Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How Can We Sin if We Love God?

I think we sometimes forget that our actions must demonstrate and prove our love. It's not that we don't love God all the time, even when we sin. It's that we forget we must act in love at all times. We must strive to remember. Starting each day in prayer and stopping several times throughout each day to pray can help jog our foggy mommy brains.

Think of your children. You love them at all times. You would probably give your life to preserve theirs. But, like all parents, we are human and lose our patience. We sometimes do not always act as lovingly as we feel. This doesn't mean it is okay to yell at our kids; we should discipline firmly but screaming and insulting them (which most of us sometimes do) is unacceptable. So part of this answer is that we do love, we just don't act lovingly.

On the other hand, if we consistently, time after time, do not obey God, then we must not love God as much as we think we do. It is important that we admit our sin and actually TRY to change. We ARE capable of improving.

I try to remember that "Only God is perfect, and I am not Him," but, I also remind myself that I cannot ever give up on myself. God never does. It is our calling to constantly reform our lives towards holiness. This Scripture helps me (Hebrews 12: 1-4):
"1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
We are told to let go of our sin and not let it weigh us down but also to keep running the race, never giving up. Christ will ensure we do not grow weary if we only ask for His help to persevere.

Praying, though, is the most important thing we can do as mothers. A priest told me once in Confession (oh, and getting to Mass and Confession regularly is the second most important) that our children were given free will just like we were. For them to see us fail and apologize and keep trying is a better lesson than to see that we are perfect. No one is perfect but God. I am not God. They need that lesson to humble them, and in that process, we are humbled, too.

When children see their mothers humble, they will learn humility. This priest also pointed out that we are imperfect people trying to guide other imperfect people to perfection. The process is going to be ugly and require us to change little by little. It was encouraging to hear him remind me that the Christian life is all about perseverance, not giving up, no matter how frustrated we are. It's a grace for our children to see that.

Children are going to disobey and backtalk. The best thing we can do is to admit to our children that being a mommy is the best job in the world but the hardest job in the world. We should ask them to pray for us and to forgive us when we mess up.

Mamas, don't seek perfection, just improvement, little by little, day by day. Choose one thing in your life to focus on for 2-3 weeks before trying to make another change. I get overwhelmed and want it all better now, but that is not the road our Lord has chosen for us. Slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Acknowledging Love

I love leaving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I hate going, but I love leaving! I used to share that small testimony with the many youth I worked with in college and when I worked at a youth retreat center for a year to encourage them to participate in the Sacrament. I still hate going to Confession. But I love to leave!

And yesterday our family made a rare and inconvenient decision to go all together early to Mass to have the opportunity for Confession. My husband, went first with our daughter, and I occupied the little boys, squeezing into the end of the line once my husband was through, knowing I might not get in before the priest had to leave for Mass.

I did have my Confession heard, and my penance was memorable. It's something we should all be doing every day, but my priest somehow saw into my soul that I was forgetting. He seemed to understand that the cares of the world were crushing me, and while I was staying close to the Lord, a vital part of our relationship was missing. Maybe it is missing in yours, too. 

So I share my penance as a sort of challenge to each of you. I'm guessing that every one of us needs to incorporate this advice into our daily prayer:

Spend some time thanking God for loving you so perfectly.