I started thinking about the times growing up, and even well into adulthood when I felt inadequate because I didn't have "things" that other people I knew had. I remember asking my mother once if we were rich. Her response was that we may not be rich in money, but we were rich in love. When you're in 3rd grade and your friends all have the latest Nike tennis shoes while you have knock-offs, that's not very comforting. But, while some of my friends' fathers were rarely home, mine was home almost every night (except on those rare occasions he had to go out of town on business). My parents' marriage lasted for almost 62 years (my mom passed away 2 months shy of their 62nd anniversary). So, yeah, we had a LOT more than some of my friends had.
During his Homily, the priest said that he used to tell people that he's never seen a u-haul being towed behind a hearse...until Facebook. We've all heard the phrase "you can't take it with you", but Father said it makes a difference what we do with what we have today. We'll always want more; the good parents aren't the ones who give their kids everything they want, they're the ones who end up with an adult who makes good, moral decisions. (Well, he didn't say "moral", but I'm throwing that in!) He quoted CS Lewis, "Nothing is truly ours until we give it away." We have to give up the sense of "it's all about me" and turn everything over to God. In closing, he gave us a prayer of asking God to give us the courage and strength to let go of vanity and to seek the treasures of heaven.
That got me thinking about the beginning of the school year, or, really, the school year in general. My current special ed director is big on recognition; which is great, unless you're the one working your tail off and not getting any. That's when it's easy to fall into vanity; it's easy to complain about doing everything right & even going above and beyond but not getting recognized for it. I read a quote that is perfect for a reminder:
Do not seek to be regarded as somebody, don't compare yourself to others in anything. Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things, shake the dust from off your feet. - - - St. Barsanuphius
In other words, get over yourself and put your big girl panties on.
ePriest discussed how material things split our hearts in many pieces, thus pulling our love in as many places. It's impossible to love 1 thing when our hearts are pulled in so many different ways. "Our heart is capable of loving multiple persons and God, but only to the degree it is capable of focusing on one of them. When we love God first, our love for others increases in intensity." It's not that material things are all bad, but we have them to use to fulfill God's plan for us. We are encouraged to "take stock of our loves to make sure they don't compete with love of God."
This week, I hope to take stock in what St. Barsanuphius said and, as Matthew Kelly would say, be the best version of myself.