As my husband, Jerry, and I hurriedly left a local department store one evening, he pushed our cart of purchased merchandise ahead of me and went right out the door marked “enter.” I asked, “What are you doing?” He looked at me as if he had no clue what I was talking about. I said, “You just exited through the enter door. You know I don’t like you doing that. No wonder the world is such a mess!” As he looked at me, we both burst out laughing.
While we did make light of the moment, we agreed there was some truth to what I had said. As we continued our conversation on the drive home, we talked about the gift of free will we have all been given by God and how, on many occasions, all of us, myself included, abuse that gift.
We shrug our shoulders with the thought that if no one gets hurt, what does it matter? We think it is okay when we do things like enter where it says exit or exit where it says enter, and the list goes on. You and I have to admit that we, at some time or another, all cut corners, take chances and don’t follow the rules because we think as long as no harm is done, we have done no wrong. The snowball effect sets in, and it becomes easier and easier to break the rules and to seemingly get by with it.
But do we really get by with it? Does no one really get hurt? We do these seemingly harmless things without giving it much thought; and before we know it, we are doing things that lead to other things that hurt our relationship with God and others.
For example, we are tempted to join in gossip, and we know we should take the “exit” door; but instead it’s easier to take the other door and “enter” into sin. Every day we are faced with similar situations to use our free will – to avoid sin or, unfortunately, commit sin. Our bad habits of cutting corners, taking shortcuts or simply doing things because we are just sure no one will get hurt if we do it just this once, will inevitably and sadly lead us to other habits that lead to sin.
In the midst of our Lenten journey, let us look at the enter and exit signs that point us in the right direction, recalling that through our baptism we have been given the grace to know when to use our free will to enter and exit at the appropriate times, places and circumstances in our lives.
Where have we cut corners, broken the rules and taken unnecessary chances? Have these seemingly harmless habits led us to sin, which in turn harms our relationship with God and others? If we say we see no harm done, I dare say, we are fooling ourselves.
Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.