Rescued by Love

Something to think about | Harvard University in 1994 studied forty adults in their early forties with a history of multiple, significant stressors during their childhood and adolescence, including serious illness in themselves or their families, low income, chronic family discord or parental fighting, parental substance abuse, persistent and harsh parental discipline, or prolonged parental absence. Additionally, more than twenty of the subjects had a history of repeatedly being physically and /or sexually abused.

These forty were chosen because as adults, despite the great deprivation, they love well. They establish and maintain relationships marked by reciprocity and concern for the other as well as for oneself. They negotiate conflicts actively and successfully throughout each relationship. Why? The study showed that thirty-six of them identified adults they encountered when they were a child who ignited their capacity to love, who believed in them, even though the contact was brief, circumstantial and non-parental. In other words, they were given love by some significant person and they welcomed this love; they internalized this love. They became persons who now love well. They, unlike their siblings whose lives were fractured permanently by stressors, became resilient, loving and successful adults. They accepted the love which was given.

Bill Creed, SJ

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