I so wanted to paste some kind of giant sloth gif here but…I won’t. First of all, because I lack the basic comprehension of technology to do so. And do I need a second reason?
A couple of weeks ago I was chatting via voice text (if you don’t know what Voxer is, you should check it out. I’m not big on many apps, but this one is a life-saver for moms and far-flung friendships) and we were trading insights and general nuggets of a spiritual nature and I realized for the first time, I think in the context of this conversation, that my “root sin” or primary struggle, if you will, is with the sin of sloth.
Now, if you’re anything like I was, you probably don’t even know exactly what sloth means. Or perhaps it conjures a vague notion of Homer Simpson and a car full of empty cans of Mountain Dew and Pringles. Something like that.
That was my subconscious understanding of sloth until fairly recently, at any rate. I wish for the life of me that I could tell you where it was I first became acquainted with the more nuanced explanation of the sin, but I’ll just go ahead and blame it on either St. Josemaria Escriva or one of the daily meditations in the Magnificat.
But the sloth that has it’s claws sunk deep in me has less to do with Pringles and more to do with a softness of the will. A weakness of the spirit, if you will. The desire to always indulge just a little more. The utter resistance to any kind of a schedule because I’m a free spirit and I don’t need to be boxed in by “rules” and “timelines,” man.
So just 10 more minutes on Facebook. Just another half hour before I turn off the lights at night. One more slice of pizza. One more glass of wine. 5 more minutes of ignoring the escalating conflict in the sandbox because I don’t feel like putting my phone down and getting off the couch. Drive through lunch because I didn’t plan a menu.
And maybe weirdest of all? Cleaning RIGHT NOW because I feel like it. No matter what. Vacuuming like a mad woman when I should be reading to somebody or praying a rosary.
It’s not glamorous, in terms of deadly sins, but boy does it have its claws sunk deep in me. Maybe it’s just my obsessively analytical Meyer’s Briggs type (INTJ – to rule them all) or maybe it’s real, but I feel like I’ve been seeing so many of my flaws and habitual sins in light of the s-word since connecting the dots. (And I always figured I was just “spontaneous” and that’s why I hated meal planning and schedules.)
Imagine my surprise then when a whole chorus of “me too’s!” went up from around the table at a mom’s group I’m part of. Could it be? Could sloth be the “it” sin for 21st century moms?
I mean, I guess it kinda makes sense. Because technology. Convenience foods. Mini vans. Instant entertainment and distraction in the palm of my hand. There are a million different ways I can ignore my primary duties and cruise along on semi-numb auto pilot, because my little corner of the world is so safe, there are almost no consequences should I decide to do so.
My kids will not go hungry if I don’t cook dinner. They’ll just eat frozen waffles. My family will not go naked if I don’t do laundry. They’ll just wear different clothes. Nobody will get eaten by a wild animal or hit by a car if I zone out on social media or internet tv all afternoon. Our yard is fenced and our corner of suburbia tame and safe.
So you see, the only real immediate victim of the deadly sin of sloth is…me.
I’m trying to check myself when I hit that proverbial wall each afternoon and just.can’t. for a moment longer.
“Did I neglect my prayer time? Is this happening because I didn’t plan well? Was it the 25 minutes I wasted on Instagram this morning that lit the fire for this tantrum of neglect to explode hours later?”
And if the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then I’ve got some work to do.
(If the answer is “no,” however, then I’m just a woman with 3 preschoolers and a newborn, so please hand me a glass of wine.
This Advent I’m going to really examine this habitual sin of mine, looking for those areas (Peppermint Joe Joes. Cough, cough) where I’m prone to overindulge in the name of “I earned this,” and stop to make sure I’m not slothing where I could be, you know, practicing virtue.
Oh, and I’m allllllmost 100% certain my kids are paving for me a unique and customized path to temperate, industrious sanctity because there are 101 ways I can self deny in a given day before breakfast.
I just need to, you know, act on them instead of running in the opposite direction.
“For those of us who tend to be lazy “under-achievers,” a schedule will keep us on task to make sure we meet our obligations. For those of us who tend toward workaholism and to be driven by the tyranny of the urgent, a schedule will make sure that we make time for prayer, reading to the kids, or other priorities that might get shoved aside if we’re not vigilant.”
– Leon Suprenant, The Sin of Sloth