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The Only Time St. John of the Cross Has Approved Of My Impulsive Target Shopping Habits

alec vanderboom

Target is selling the beautiful verses of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 as Wall Art for $14.99. I picked it up impulsively during one of my "MUST HAVE CHOCOLATE OR DIE" raids as the Mother of a newborn. I hung it up on our bedroom wall three weeks ago. Man, nothing has done more to help me adjust to life with a colicky newborn.

We read this verse at our wedding, but somehow I missed that St. Paul was giving me a solid checklist. (Before I look at it like some nice, dreamy  Shakespearean quote). So now, I have this checklist in front of me.

Love is

-not rude
-not self-seeking
-not easily angered (whoops!)
-keeps no record of wrongs (double whoops!)

Love always


I'm learning as I go along in Carmel, that our Scripture quotes aren't random pretty phrases stuck together. The Word of God, has order and direction inside the specific verse. I could be wrong, because I'm new at this process, but when I pray lectio divino now I picture a set of stair steps going up to heaven. So this verse becomes a series of orderly steps for me to take. First I need to protect. Then I need to trust. Then I hope. Finally, I persevere.

Whenever I take something specific that I'm having trouble showing love in--say homeschooling--it helps now to have a game plan. I need to protect my children from some specific evils I witnessed in public school. Am I trusting that the Lord will help me teach and my children to learn? Am I hopeful about our outcome, or am I being ruthlessly pessimistic? Finally, I need to persevere, and not give up at the smallest difficulty. Above all, am I being consistently patient and kind while I teach?

I always earn a big fat NO for all the above.

However humbling, it's lovely to have a yardstick for my Christian vocation that is holy, and ordered and possible. These holy stair steps are direct contradiction to the usual evaluation of my mothering that the Devil puts into head such as "I'm only a good mother if the soccer shirts are always clean before game day."

Mommy Mary, pray for us.