Are the small sins devouring you?

“Confession is like a bridle that keeps the soul which reflects on it from committing sin, but anything left unconfessed we continue to do without fear as if in the dark.”

–Saint John Climacus

I have been observing this momma duck and her ducklings for about a week or so around the pond at work during my morning walk. Yesterday, as I walked around and noticed the mother duck, I only saw one duckling nestled under her wing. About a week ago, there were around 13.

As I ponder the fact that some other animal had been lurking around and devouring these poor little ducklings for a nice meal, I  couldn’t help but think about how often in my own life the enemy of my soul lurks around waiting to devour me. Ever so sneaking, he preys upon me. He does it in little things – mostly in the small sins I commit and tuck away.  And so often the impact is to my family and friends.

Do you often feel like you are prey to darkness? Have you hidden away small sins or may be big sins deep within?  Do you ever feel like these small sins are consuming little bits of you?

Like many, I struggle with ongoing sins, those I commit over and over again.  They come in various sizes and degrees. Perhaps you struggle with some of these same things.

Anger

All the enemy has to do sometimes is just strike at my heal and cause something to not go my way or as I expected.  I become frustrated and say words that I never meant to say but just rolled off my tongue.  How many friendships have ended because of that very thing?  How many family relationships become strained because of the slaying of the tongue in anger?

Jealousy

Jealousy is such a lovely sin because it’s one that springs most often from a feeling of not being loved.  No matter what our brains know and understand about one’s love for us, the enemy preys on our heart, our emotions and tells us that the other person doesn’t love us or love us as much as someone or something else and our friend jealousy strikes.

Pride

This one is a definite struggle.  Who doesn’t want to accept a pat on the back and think they are the best?  Who doesn’t want everyone to know that they are good at something?  Accepting a pat on the back is not bad but the enemy very slippery will come on in and enlarge that pat on the back into the sin of pride.  Have you had a friendship that was strained because you were overly proud of your capability and squashed their ability?

Procrastination

I think, often, procrastination affects us when we ignore God and His will for us.  When you have the gut wrenching desire to go help at a food pantry, a shelter, or join a ministry and you put it on the back burner, telling yourself, “I’ll do it later when I have more time.”  Perhaps at that very moment you were intended to be at that place to fulfill God’s plan in you or someone else’s life.  How many opportunities have you passed up that God was calling you to because you procrastinated?

Gossip

I don’t think anyone does this, right? Perhaps this is one that most people struggle with over and over again.  I use to work with a coworker that use to start off her gossip conversations with “I mean this in a Christian way, but …..”  It baffled me.  How in the world can you put Christ’s name in a conversation where you are going to talk about or judge someone?  Gossip is the double sworded tongue.  The enemy comes in and he gives you a sense that you will feel better about yourself if you share things about another.  In other scenarios, he tells you that you are helping someone by sharing something they confided in you with another.  A chain reaction kicks into play – very quickly.  How many relationships have been ruined over gossip?  How many stories have been misconstrued over gossip?

Lying

This is one I love. My girls and I often get in very good debates on the existence of a “good lie”. Sure there are lies that are told for very good intentions, such as keeping a surprise. Our debate normally is about a “good lie” or “the white lie” that it is still a lie no matter how you slice it. If we get in the habit of justifying a lie as a “good lie”, then we are being the judge of what is sin and what is not. We are essentially playing God.

Of course there are more little sins than what I mentioned above but these are probably the more common ones that are repeat offenders for most. In each of these, I think the enemy finds a little crack, perhaps our weakness, and strikes.

After the enemy preys on us and devours a small piece within us, he falls to the floor giggling with laughter because he has defeated the light God places within us and sheds darkness upon it.  My girls watch the series “Once Upon a Time”.  It’s a very twisted version of the fairy tales most of us grew up reading.  I find it quite interesting that when a good person does something that is sinful, their heart darkens and they become an antagonist in the story line.  I kind of view that same analogy with our own battle with sin.  When we allow these small sins to devour us internally little by little, we are allowing it to spread darkness within us.

So how do you get rid of it?  How do you illuminate the dark areas of sin in your life?  You could repair some of the damage by doing good deeds and works.  But that doesn’t repair your soul, it helps to repair the relationships and connectivity of your sin to the world, which is called penance.  It is imperative that you go to confession often, seeking forgiveness for all sins, especially the smallest sins that are tucked away in darkness.  It is in this very Sacrament that God’s love, mercy and compassion fills the dark crevices within you, illuminating you with His very light.

Dig deep within and uncover those small sins tucked away and go to confession.  Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross and offers you this forgiveness to defeat the enemy so that he does not devour you, separating you from the grace God offers you every microsecond of the day.

Has God placed a friend or a community in your life?

“God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle.  In the company of friends we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal.”  St. Maximilian Kolbe

Do you have that one true friend that would lay down their life for you?  What about a community of friends?  Is there one friend or many friends that have been there in the midst of most or all of your struggles? In a moment of weakness, has a friend or your community of friends given you strength as a result of their support?

Today as I was taking my morning stroll around the pond on our company’s campus to clear my mind and talk to God, there was a momma duck and 3 babies at the edge of the pond and 4 ducks were sitting on the bridge rails above her. As I approached, one duck began making lots of noise. I watched for a while. I realized these 4 ducks on the rails were protecting the mother duck and her ducklings by giving her a warning signal of my presence nearby, potential danger.

I thought that was quite interesting and began to reflect on the example these ducks revealed to me of a community of friends, a family. Like the mother duck protecting her ducklings, God protects us when we are in trouble. And just as the 4 ducks on the rail were on the outside looking in, serving as warnings and advisors, our community of friends and family do for us.

It is important in times of struggle and need to have a support system. Often in the midst of your issues, you don’t see clearly or see the entire picture. Your support system is your wide lens, helping you to see the things you don’t. The friends in your life that guide you in accordance with God’s will are unique in your life. They are hand selected. They are not placed in your life on accident but for that very moment where God knows not only do you need the protector at your side but an advisor to be present with you on His behalf to guide you away from danger.

Over the years, God has strategically brought many friends into my life at pivotal moments to support me in accordance with His will. I know I can call several people in my community of friends in a moment and ask for a flood of prayers, guidance, or just a listening ear. Often I feel guilty that I may be wearing my prayer line out or the ears on which I pour out to. At the end of the day, these ladies will always be advisors, comforters, and words of warning when I am in danger or just in need of a reminder of His presence. God placed them in my life to reveal His very own love and guidance to me.

We are all connected in God’s divine plan and it is no coincidence when new friendships are formed. It is no coincidence when you need help in the midst of a struggle and a friend calls you or drops by to just say hi. With the help of the Holy Spirit, your friends are advocates in fulfilling God’s plan in you through support, love, and guidance.

Treasure the community around you that God put in your path. Call them to tell them thank you for being a part of your life. Let them know that their love reveals the love of your Heavenly Father and how much you need and appreciate their comfort and compassion. If you are at odds with a friend, go to confession, ask for forgiveness and ensure to contact your friend with an apology and an act of love and kindness.

Heartfelt Coffee

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If we were having coffee right now, I would embrace you with a hug. I’m not sure if you need a hug but I know that I do. I know you would welcome my hug with love and compassion. That hug would tell me that my worries are just burdens weighing on my shoulders. As you released your embrace I would know that all things will be ok. We would exchange cordial hellos and how are you doing. You would know right away that something has been bothering me. You ask what’s going on. I look at you with a smile knowing you are a loving and trusting friend. With a deep breath in and out, I can feel the peace that our conversation and your hug has already bestowed upon my mind, my heart and my soul. I begin to share the things that weigh my heart down, my concerns of the upcoming days. I begin to visualize the outcomes and consequences and share them with you. You just sit there listening with your heartfelt compassion. When I am done pouring out my heart’s concerns with tears in my eyes, you look upon me and touch my hands. You wait a second before you say a word. You feel my worries through the palms of my hands. You look in my eyes and with the deepest love, you tell me to not be afraid, to not worry that my faith is strong, and I am strong. You tell me “draw from the strength of our Lord, to breathe in each moment and be present and still, for in this moment is where he is. He is not in the future where your mind is imagining the outcomes of the things to come in the days before us. Trust in your faith and the will of our God, and seek the joy and happiness of each moment in time.” Your words are so perfect, your voice angelic. I find peace in each word as you comfort my heart. A tear drops beside my coffee and glistens in the light. With the sparkle of this tear, my heart feels light. Your words and your voice were my healing delight. We continue our conversation and enjoy this time over coffee. By the end of our meeting, my face is brightened with a smile that only you could have helped me to find, with a friendship that is divine.

An Encounter by the Creek

“We must speak to God as a friend speaks to his friend, servant to his master; now asking some favor, now acknowledging our faults, and communicating to Him all that concerns us, our thoughts, our fears, our projects, our desires and in all things seeking His counsel.” – St Ignatius of Loyola

Imagine that you are sitting under a tree, near the edge of a creek flowing into a small pool.  The water flows across each stone, one by one, moving uniquely across each stone as if it were a unique part of the creek.  The colors before you, on the side of the creek, are vivid and the sound of the water dropping into the pool sounds like a musical instrument resonating in your head.  The breeze is gentle and cool.

As you watch the water flow over each stone in the creek, you notice each stone in your own life, moments of pain and moments of peace.  As you look up from the view before you, you see this man beside you.  He is very gentle in nature.  His eyes appear to be full of sorrow, yet his face appears to be pure as the driven snow.  His eyes reveal a story of pain and of love.  There seems to be something very familiar about him but you can’t put your finger on it.

You greet him with a smile and a warm hello.  He sits beside you embracing the view before you.  His demeanor seems very welcoming.  You look into his eyes and you can feel this deep sense of trust within him, not something you would feel with a complete stranger.  As you sit with him, you feel an enormous amount of peace all around you and everything seems more vibrant and full of life.

He turns to you with gentleness and invites you to share your sadness, your joys, your thoughts, and your desires.  You feel very comfortable opening up your heart to him, you don’t know why but he feels like the perfect companion.  You begin to share your deepest desires, your deepest hurts, your fears and the moments that bring you joy and happiness.  He looks at you with love and compassion and holds out his hands so that you can feel the warmth of his love.  It is at this moment that you realize your new found friend, this stranger beside the creek is your first true love, your best friend.  He is your Lord, Jesus, listening and loving every bit of you and waiting to embrace you with his exuberant love.  Will you accept his invitation of friendship?  Will you sit with him as he gives you his undivided attention?

 

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