My Thomas has a syndrome called “mismatched sock” syndrome. There is no cure at this point, but we have hope.
No matter the day or occasion, he is completely incapable of putting on matching socks. The bin of folded socks for him and Isaac is there in their room. But somehow, he ends up in the laundry room, picking through the basket of singles as we make our way out the door.
The problem with this syndrome isn’t felt much on a day-to-day basis, but come Sunday, and I’m feeling it. Thomas gets himself ready for Mass. Or he thinks he does. It doesn’t usually make things better if an older sibling pitches in to help. He resentfully refuses their advances, or if he does accept the help, the outcome isn’t much better than what he was working with in the beginning.
So, he puts on his Sunday best and heads to the van before I have a chance to check him out. We arrive at the church, and out he pops from the van. I never know what to expect, except for one thing: mismatched socks. There can be a bright orange Paw Patrol on one foot, and his sister’s lacy topped white sockette on the other. And they are usually noticeable because the pants he puts on are usually just that little bit too short.
That’s what we’re dealing with.
But the thing is, he’s just so darn cute. And he really thinks he’s looking good for God. He knows that Sundays are special, and that we wear special clothes for Mass, so he digs out shirts and ties, regardless if they fit or match. And I can appreciate it, and I think God can appreciate it, because He knows what’s in my son’s heart: a desire to do his best.
That expression, the one about God knowing what’s in our hearts, is getting tossed about a lot lately. I’ve been in two conversations the past few weeks with that being the theme. People make claims that our best is not necessary, because “God knows what’s in our hearts.”
It came up on the RCAV Facebook feed, with Father Nick (#AskFrNick) answering the question, “What does God care what I’m wearing? He knows what’s in my heart.”
I left a response saying that I felt that while, yes, what’s in our hearts is obviously the priority, our choices, our dress, our posture, our silence at Mass are all reflections of what is in our heart.
Why do we work so hard to excuse ourselves from giving our best to God? We make excuses not to wear church clothing, but we would never consider wearing jeans and a tank top to a friend’s celebration.
We excuse ourselves from tithing, then purchase another name brand coffee.
We excuse ourselves from not eating meat on Fridays, for Pete’s sake! We can’t even do that without playing the “God knows what’s in my heart” card. It’s kind of embarrassing.
Here’s the problem: God does know what’s in our hearts. He does see what’s there. And I don’t know about you, but that makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Next to my desire to want to love God is my faith, my hope and my doubts, the joy and the sadness. And tucked right in there, quite steadfast and comfortable, is a corner of coldness. I’m no Mother Teresa, and God sees it. He looks deep into my heart, and what he sees is how much loving I still need to learn how to do.
I know that we humans are capable of love. In fact we were created for love, which usually looks a little something like the giving of our best to the other. I have a hard time giving any of myself to my children and husband. I know that I don’t give my best to God.
To love God means conquering the love of self, the stubborn laziness, and the excuses. It means giving everything to him.
We’re afraid to give everything to him. We are afraid of the cost, of having to change, of acknowledging our sinfulness and desperate need of him. But his perfect love casts out fear. If we will let him, he will heal us, strengthen us, and purify our hearts. And then, when his love is present there, then, our hearts will be worthy of his glance.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me, (Psalm 51).