Have you ever felt so bogged down by the constant demands in life, by the daily monotonous grind, that it seems impossible to keep all of the plates spinning. You’re just waiting for one to get off kilter and crash leaving all of the others to follow suit while you tip-toe around the shattered glass feeling tired and defeated? That’s been life for me lately.
Like you, I wear so many hats….a coach’s wife, the mom with the baby who keeps head butting her in church, daughter, friend, employee, co-worker, special needs advocate. Sometimes I can balance all of these plates well, and other times I feel like I can hardly catch my breath. Lately, I’ve felt heavily burdened and stressed out. There have been too many frustrating circumstances out of my control that I’ve had to face head on, and….I don’t really like that. I like to have control. I like to have a plan. I suppose sometimes my plan needs a little shaking up for me to get on my knees and pray.
I have a confession to make. In fact, this is my repeat offender sin that usually makes it’s way to the top of the list when I go to Reconciliation. If you know me well, you know this to be true. And likely, you will smile at what I’m about to confess. So here it goes…I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic, and I cuss.
Yep. I say bad words.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of this. It’s one of my biggest vices. To my surprise, I actually have done a pretty good job around my children (if I may say so myself) about keeping it in check when they’re around. Granted, two of them are still non-verbal (for the most part), so the jury’s still out I suppose.
None the less, it’s true. Get me around some adults, throw in a glass of wine, and it’s likely it won’t take long for a “naughty word” to cross my lips. Heck, I just went to confession on Sunday (more on that later) and I’ve already said a few “choice words’ since. Oh, I’m a piece of work, huh!?
Anyway…this does have a point. God uses my vice as a way to remind me to get back in check with him. My “choice words” had been flowing a little too frequently, leading me to see that my patience was nearly gone, and my overall joy in life seemed to be depleted as well.
The ick, the dirt, the discontent was rearing it’s ugly head in more ways than one, but I’m stubborn and it takes me a while to humble myself. So God made it very clear that my soul needed some cleaning. It became evident to me in a very concrete way…the kitchen floor. We currently have close to two feet of snow on the ground outside, ice sickles dangling from roof tops, and enough sand on the roads to fill dozens of playgrounds this spring when it all finally melts away. We’ve been out in the trenches, dragging in the slush and rocks in with our boots as we travel in and out of the garage via the kitchen. It took me a while, but I eventually got fed up with the grime. I made a goal to get the cleaning done while I had a little extra time Friday morning. I made breakfast for the kids, which only one of them ate, put on an episode of Puppy Dog Pals (now shortened to PDP when we have to talk in code, lest one of the little ones catch wind of the name and have a freak out until it’s put on TV), and got to work.
I started with the broom and swept up the rocks. They were little, but they seemed to find their way into every corner and along the trim. It’s hard to notice how many there were because they trickled in slowly, a few at a time. But now, I had swept up several dustpans full. It was rather annoying.
A little hot water, some vinegar, and a few splashes of tangerine essential oil and I was ready to put some elbow grease into this floor- my kitchen was going to look and smell glorious!
I got about five scrubs in before one of my tenants came over to check out what I was doing. Looking all cute in her fleece pj’s and hair matted down from the cheesecake she had smashed onto her head the night before (and no, we did not do baths because I was solo parenting and had no energy for that nonsense). So I figured “What the heck. The floors will get cleaned and so will my kid. Two birds with one stone. What a deal.”
I let her get her hands in the water, scrub with the towel, and by two scrubs she was over it and just wanted to splash. So, I let her…and then promptly got the bath water running…I knew where this was headed. Not two seconds after I got back from running the bath water did I walk into the kitchen to see that my little darling had dumped the water all over the floor and was stomping her feet in it…smiling while saying “waaaaash!”
Luckiy I had already grabbed a bath towel and used that to mop. My floor got double-y cleaned.
I knew that with all the snow that still lay unmoved since it had fallen that my clean floor wouldn’t last long. (It made it until Monday when newly trodden snow covered shoes made their squeaks through the kitchen.) Even though I knew the cleanliness, the perfection, wouldn’t last, I needed to get that first layer of gunk off. I needed to rinse it and make it clean again.
As I was washing the floor God made it quite clear, “This is what you need to do for your soul. Go get it washed. Sin will make it dirty again and that’s ok. I will be there to wash it away, again and again.” And, per usual, my Bible study lesson this week hit the message home as I read Ephesians 4:25-32 “Be angry, but do not sin…no foul language should come out of your mouths.” Like the floor, I needed to find all of those tiny, annoying rocks (sin) that had wedged their way into the corners of my heart. They had become so comfortable there, I hardly noticed them any more. I needed to sweep them up and then scrub away the rest of the dirt that was left over. My soul needed a good cleaning.
I needed to let go of the hurt, frustration, and anger that I had let settle in a little too comfortably this past month. My soul needed a good scrub and having that fresh slate right before Lent was exactly what I needed in order to get my mind and heart in the right place for this upcoming season of sacrifice.
After receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I felt like I could breathe. I felt true and deep joy for the first time in over a month.
Life is very heavy when I try to carry it all on my own, but the load seems a heck of a lot lighter when I allow Jesus to share in carrying my burdens. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…my yoke is easy, and my burden light,” Matthew 11:28-30.
Lent is starting tomorrow. It is the perfect time to snuggle in and get close with Christ. Have you decided on your prayer, fasting, or almsgiving yet this Lent? I’ve signed up for The Best Lent Ever through Dynamic Catholic to get my prayer in check and I’m going to do my best to participate in the 40 bags in 40 days in hopes of decluttering around the house.
Spend some time in prayer to be with Jesus, asking him what he wants for you this Lent. I pray that these next forty days are filled with many moment of closeness to Christ, that you are able to unite all sufferings and all joys with him, and that you experience in a very real way his deep love for you. A love so strong he went to Calvary to be nailed on a cross for you and for me so that our sins could be washed away and we can participate in the joys of eternal life with him.