Monday, February 11, 2019

It's easy to act like Roy, but that doesn't make it OK

Pam Beesly is having a challenging time at the office. It's Valentine's Day at Dunder-Mifflin, and she has to watch her coworker, Phyllis, receive gifts all day long. But Pam hears no word from her fiancĂ©, Roy. She doesn't receive any flowers, cards, or notes. She certainly doesn't receive an obnoxiously huge teddy bear. Nothing. Sure, they had agreed to not buy each other any big gifts, but Valentine's Day gifts-as Pam points out to Dwight-are about "doing something so that the person knows you really care about her." 

When Roy comes to meet Pam at the end of the workday, she tells him that she's upset about not receiving anything from him. Roy, in response, says: 
"Well, Valentine's Day isn't over. Let's get you home, and you are gonna get the best sex of your life."

At these words, Pam does not look thrilled. I think I can understand Pam's feelings in this episode of The Office. Roy pretty much ignores her all day, and when he does come up to talk with her, the one thing on his mind is sex; he has no thought or concern about what she actually wants or needs. His words and actions (and lack of action) portray an attitude of selfishness, of self-gratification. The way he approaches their entire relationship is pretty much summed up in this scene, and it's disgusting to see Pam treated in this way. Do you know what else is disgusting? All of the times that I act like Roy in my relationships with other people and God. 

All of the times when I neglect a friend until I need to ask for a favor.

All of the times when I only pray to ask God to grant my requests.

All of the times when I am so focused on my needs and desires that I don't even ask my husband how he's doing. 

All of the times when I put personal pursuits or motherhood before nurturing my marriage. 

Even if we don't use someone for our sexual gratification like Roy, we can still act just like him in countless other ways. It is so easy to slip into selfishness in large and small matters. Yet, just because this is simple to do (ahem, concupiscence) does not mean that we can say "Well, I'm only human," and continue to choose to act in these ways. We are called to so much more in our relationships with others, regardless of whether or not they are intimately sexual. 

“A person's rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use,” writes Karol Wojtyla in Love and Responsibility. We need to choose to love others each and every day-they (and we) deserve nothing less. Yet, to be completely honest, this is challenging. Some people drive me crazy, and it's hard for me to choose to love them. And even with the people whom I genuinely like, well-life happens, and I get tired and overwhelmed and don't want to think about anyone other than myself. 

I've recently thought about how, pre-kids, I did a lot of things to show my husband that I loved him. But now? I've done this a lot less. I guess this is understandable; I'm very consumed with caring for two tiny people all day long. However, I use the excuse of "I'm an exhausted SAHM" way too much, just to make myself feel better about not doing much for my husband or other people. 
So, I'm trying to change that. I've been focusing on doing simple things like scribbling out a quick note to stick with my husband's lunch, or shooting off a quick text to him with no other purpose than to say "I love you." Saying "no" to my desires to curl up with a book in the evening if he asks if we can play a round of Innovation. I've been trying to do this with my friends, too-little actions to cultivate and nurture our relationships "just because." Little by little, I'm trying to grow in that sacrificial love that we are called to. 

"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends," Jesus tells us (Jn 15:2-13). On Valentine's Day-and all year long-let's try to live up to this calling. 


  1. This is excellent. For the new year, I've been trying to write a "sticky note love note" once a week for my hubby. Also trying to remember physical affection (his love language) even when I'm all touched out from the kids!

    And hey-- we're on season six of The Office, haha! Never thought I'd get into this show but it kinda grows on you, plus the episodes are nice and short!

    1. Laura, I think those are awesome goals to have! I've also been working on the physical affection realm-it is such a challenge. I've talked with my husband about this, and some evenings, he'll take the kids into another room for a little while so I can recharge (one night I think he entertained them for 2 hours because it was one of those really tough days). I've found that even sitting (without being touched!) for just 10 or 20 minutes an be really beneficial for me.

      That's so exciting that you guys are watching The Office! It really does grow on you-even though seasons 8 and 9 weren't as good, I just fell in love with some of the characters and storylines and wanted to keep watching!

  2. I love how you connected something so deep to The Office! Just finished re-watching the whole thing a while ago, and have been thinking about this a lot too - what love and caring for people looks like when it's for them as a person and not for anything in return. It's something I could ponder for a long time. That's beautiful how you're putting this into practice with your husband and friends too!

  3. I love how you put your thoughts together. I think I get so stuck in my own head that I lose perspective. Instead, focusing on what I can change or do for my husband would help.

    1. I'm so glad you liked this, Ellen! I agree-it is so easy to lose perspective and get stuck in whatever rut we are in. I hope you are able to create some positive changes that help you!