Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:133
I definitely have OCD tendencies. Lately, I find they’re rubbing off on my kids. I see it in how Jocelyn has taken over our front hall closet.
The boys just kick off their shoes, creating a heap on the closet floor. On a routine basis, Jocelyn takes it upon herself to pair up everyone’s shoes and place them in an orderly fashion on the shoe rack. It’s awesome! I love to open the closet door and see what used to be chaos, now all neat and organized.
But the best was when I opened the closet the other day to get my flip flops. I found that Jocelyn had placed each of her flip flops inside each of mine. I automatically thought, “Aaaww, she wants to follow in my footsteps.” My heart swelled with love and pride.
This scripture passage infers that sin is what prevents us from walking the path that God’s Word marks out for us. I think the average person defines sin as breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Beyond that, the average person doesn’t typically examine his or her own conscience. But I am a mom. I can’t settle for “average” when I have three little beings looking to me to guide them through all the nuances of life.
The online version of the Catechism of The Catholic Church has a very lengthy definition of sin. But the line that jumps out at me is, “Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.” (Article 8, Chapter 11, Section 1850, line 1243).
Reading that, I almost prefer the lengthy, legal-languaged remainder of the definition better: it’s confusing and less relatable. If I can’t understand it, and I can’t relate to it, I don’t feel inspired to adhere to it. But “sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it” is pretty straight forward. It’s also a no-brainer: why would I choose behaviors that deny me God’s love? Why would I make choices that turn my heart away from His love?
But I do – all the time! When I plan my day so full of activities so there’s no room for Him, I’ve made a choice to turn my heart away from Him. When I choose to chat in the car with my kids over first praying together for His protection while driving, I turn my heart away from His love. When I do find twenty minutes of free time and I use it to get on-line or read a book for pleasure instead of reading my Bible, I turn my heart away from Him again.
Motherhood is busy, no doubt. And we moms do deserve a break to get on Facebook or read a good book to unwind. But we can’t put those things before God. He is the big rock that we have to put in our jars first. Everything else will fit in around Him because He is the amazing miracle maker who can expand jars, and us with our packed schedules.
Our kids need to go in the jar second so that, as mothers,we are carrying out our vocations. Of course we deserve to have our own lives and interests too. If we don’t put on our own oxygen masks first, we won’t be able to breath as we take care of our kids’ needs.
But although oxygen is a basic necessity for life, quick and shallow gulps of it cause us to hyperventilate. When we put so much on our plates outside our homes, we spread ourselves too thin, move too quickly to get it all done. Moving at that pace means we can’t get deeply involved in anything we’re doing. Like the quick breaths we are taking trying to run from one thing to the next, there is no depth to them.
When I picture Jocelyn living like that as a mom, it’s startling. I don’t want that for her. I want her to have balance: devotion to God and her family, as well as the time and space to enrich herself. But she’s never going to know what that looks like unless I role model it for her.
So it’s time to step up, as well as step back. The school year is coming to an end. As most of my ministries are aligned with its calendar, they are coming to an end too. Come September, I won’t be starting some of them back up again. Maybe I will in 2017? God knows, but I don’t, and that’s okay.
With every passing day, Jocelyn is copying more and more of what I do. I want to be happy with what I see in my “little mirror.” More importantly, I want her to see me turning my heart towards God, not away from Him. I also want her to feel me turn my heart towards her and her brothers, not away in all the busyness.
I’ve allowed the “to do’s” to rule over me like sin, but all that is changing. God is directing my footsteps to a new path. With every step I take on it, I find myself filled with new life and hope.
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