Self-hatred is a sin, too
A Reflection for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
“The one who sent me is true” (Jn 8:26).
I’ve written five books. I don’t say that to boast, but to make this point: There comes a juncture in the writing of any book when the writer realizes that she’s nearly finished writing—and also that her work is pathetic, ridiculous, banal. The cliché that “we are our own worst critics” is a cliché for a reason: It is rooted in truth.
Today’s readings are a reminder that Christ comes to free us from sin, but also that the root of sin is often internal—embedded in our own dissatisfactions with ourselves, with those around us and with our world. When Jesus tells us we will “die in our sins,” many of us rush to confess sins against others, figuring that harming someone else is the worst thing we can do. But how many of our sins are really directed at ourselves? Not just pride or gluttony, but self-loathing, despair, body dysmorphia...anything that leads us to drown out the voice of the one who created us. Jesus “does nothing on his own,” and neither do we.
Many of us rush to confess sins against others, but how many of our sins are really directed at ourselves?
But how often we forget this in the relentless drive for perfection demanded of us by social media, advertising and the capitalistic impulse to spend our way toward happiness. We forget that like the God who created us, we are, in fact, good. In the remaining days of Lent, what would it mean to seek forgiveness for sinning against ourselves?
Get to know Kaya Oakes, contributing writer
What are you giving up for Lent?
Every year I try to give up negative self talk and every year I fail. Being hard on myself is a habit I really need to break, so I’ll just keep trying.
Do you cheat on Sundays?
Favorite non-meat recipe
A simple but spicy vegetarian chili loaded with avocado, cheese pickled onions and cilantro is so good. This is a good base recipe to play with.
Favorite Lent (or Easter) art
“Ubi Caritas” from the foot washing on Holy Thursday. At one point I almost got an “Ubi Caritas” tattoo.