|Posted on March 2, 2020 at 9:05 AM|
Continuing on my journey this Lent through the Seven Deadly sins, I chose this week to talk about Sloth. Although it may seem to be a sin to be slow (especially those drivers ahead of you!), I’m not referring to that really slow creature that hangs around in trees.
Sloth (also known as acedia) is the potentially the most difficult sin to define and credit as sin, since it refers to a jumble of notions dating from antiquity and includes mental, spiritual, pathological, and physical states. The definition I like is a habitual disinclination to exertion, or in other words, laziness. Perhaps you could say that sloth is the sin that requires no effort!
Unlike the other deadly sins in which the sinner commits immoral acts, sloth is a sin of omission of desire and/or performance. Being indifferent to or neglecting one’s duties can result in a person becoming sluggish and then less charitable towards their fellow man. And procrastination can lead to sloth, too.
My personal review this week was to see if sloth has encroached in my own life. At first it didn’t seem like I had a problem. I often take short breaks from my tasks, to work a crossword puzzle, or scroll through a few Facebook posts, and that’s not a bad thing - everyone needs breaks from their work. I am rejuvenated after my breaks and I am able to return refreshed to tackle my pile of “to-dos.”
But unfortunately I found that a pattern of sloth HAS crept in. There is an amazing amount of interesting things on Facebook – helpful hints videos, cute dog and cat photos and ads for new products. It’s easy for me to get sucked into mindless scrolling, and this just happened to me a few days ago – I wasted about 45 minutes of time when I should have been doing something else. When I realized my mistake I had to scramble to complete my REAL task.
Then there are books. A well-written mystery novel really draws me in, and it is very easy for me to become so engrossed in the story line that I lose complete track of time. I realized that this, too, happened a few times in the past couple of weeks! One day I forgot to get groceries, I blew off making dinner (twice!), and I failed to honor a promise I made to someone because I forgot about it. Yes, I think that was sloth.
I knew I needed to do something to prevent me from continuing (even accidentally) to neglect my responsibilities. I don’t want to give up Facebook - I post things there myself and I love keeping up with what my friends are doing - and working crosswords and pleasurable reading are nice diversions that also keep my mind sharp. So I prayed about it, and, not surprisingly, a solution popped up. I now set a timer when I read or do a little scrolling! When the timer rings, I allow myself just a few more minutes to finish the page, but then I must put away the crossword or exit out of Facebook. I also am using reading as a “reward.” When I finish that important project (like writing this week’s blog!) THEN I can do a little reading, with my timer set, of course!
It’s hard to break bad habits, especially when they are enjoyable and not necessarily a “bad” thing. And God does command us to rest periodically. But the danger comes when we take too long a break, and especially if it interferes with our prayer or spiritual life. In this Lenten period it may actually be good for me to fast from some of my breaks, to allow me more time for prayer and to take care of my responsibilities. I must make the effort to curb my tendency to be a bit lazy.
Would you be willing to look at your life this week as I have done and see if maybe you have been a bit slothful? Are there some responsibilities you may have neglected – whether by doing something mindless for too long, or procrastinating? If you find maybe you need to make a correction in your life, I encourage you to pray about it and see if there is some step you can take to help you overcome your problem. God may bless you in an unexpected way.
Have a blessed Monday!
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