Help me, Lord. I’m a mess! Popsicle dripping down my chin, clothes stained, puddle on the floor. Yuck! And I’m pretty sure this popsicle has red food coloring and high fructose corn syrup in it.
In my last post, I mentioned the new flavor of my blog as ‘Popsicle’. I wasn’t even sure what I meant. As I thought about it this week, it became clear. Let me share.
Imagine a hot, sweltering day. The sound of laughter and water splashing can be heard from the neighbor’s pool. On the other side, you can hear the hum of your neighbor’s AC, whirring away, cooling their home to a comfortable 78 degrees. Meanwhile, you are longing for relief from the heat. No pool, no AC, you throw open the freezer and grab a popsicle. You take it outside on the porch to watch the kids. A small group of children are bent over the sidewalk, waiting for an egg to fry. Further down the street a boy is running with a magnifying glass with a rowdy crew in tow. Off in the distance the air shimmers and shakes with heat. Suddenly, you feel something wet on your wrist, then your knee. You look down to find a popsicle stream, flowing down your hand, dripping onto your knee and running down your leg, to find its home next to the other half of your popsicle at your feet. You immediately stand up, slurping your wrist and hand, trying to stop the stream. As you lick and slurp, you sense a fake cherry food-coloring flavor that makes you want to gag. (Sorry for those of you that like artificial cherry flavor) You throw the rest of the popsicle on the ground in disgust and walk over to the hose to wash yourself off, then you power spray the popsicle mess into nothingness, leaving only the stick.
Pretty gross, huh? I know it’s Fall, and popsicles are out of season, but this image really encapsulates how I sometimes treat Jesus, in a way that I don’t want. In this scene, Jesus is the popsicle. We run to Him in desperation, only to ignore Him and be distracted by the things around us, unable to appreciate or share in the grace that He wants to give us. He longs for us to run to Him (Joel 2:12), even in desperation (Matthew 11:28). He longs for us to taste His goodness (Psalm 34:8), and He longs for us to share in His grace (Ephesians 2:4-5). How much do I long to be with Him? Enough to savor all of Him? Enough to drag my sinful self to confession? Enough to really evaluate what is distracting me from getting closer to Christ, from what halts my spiritual growth?
I hope so.
In the next few weeks leading up to Advent, I hope to uncover those distractions that keep me from longing for and loving Christ. And then I will spend Advent working to diminish those distractions and increase Christ. Less World, More Christ.
What are some distractions that keep you from savoring the goodness of God?
PS – Part 2 1/2
Thinking about the above post, I realized I missed a very important element – why would Jesus taste bad? Jesus as artificial flavoring?! What I didn’t mention is that our perception of Jesus and His gifts is wrong. We don’t see the gift for what it is and so it seems bad to us; we want to reject it. His gifts can sometimes come in suffering and chastening, which can be painful, and so we refuse it. Or, as is most appropriate to the analogy I was using, our sin blinds us to the gifts of God, and we don’t see them for the beauty that they have, but they look ugly to us.
For example, if I’m late for an appointment and am stuck in traffic, I could get all upset about it, get in a bad mood, and have a terrible rest of my day. Or, if I am walking closely with God I might see this delay as an opportunity to pray a Divine Mercy chaplet or Rosary that I otherwise wouldn’t have prayed.
It all goes back to St. Ignatius’ quote: “Ingratitude is the most abominable of sins…For it is a forgetting of the graces, blessings, and benefits received. As such, it is the cause, beginning and origin of all sins and misfortunes.” So when we see Jesus and His gifts as they are, we can see His goodness and receive His graces.