I’m giving up hate-reading for Lent!

I used to be a self-injurer. Once or twice a week for six years, I had a date with a razor-blade. Then, last October, I started taking medicine to treat my depression and eventually my self-injuring tendencies went away…

…sorta.

I don’t hurt myself physically anymore. In fact, it’s rarely even a temptation now-a-days, which is a great accomplishment for me.

But, sometimes I wonder if I have simply replaced my razor blade with a thing I’ve heard called hate-reading.

A couple times a week I’ll find myself wanting to indulge in misery (an emotion reminiscent of my self-injury days). And go I’ll go to Mark Driscoll’s website, or the “Counsel for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” or the comments section of Relevant Magazine.

And I’ll get angry. I’ll soak in the hurtful words and let myself sink into a dark place of hatred.

I call it research. But it’s not. It’s emotional self-injury. It’s my new-found way of indulging in an old addiction. 

So, I’m giving up hate-reading for Lent!

I’ve never actually given up anything for Lent, but since I’m on a religious journey right now, in which I am seeking new religious experiences from traditions that I am unfamiliar with, I thought it might be interesting to try. I think you’re supposed to give up a luxury, and I’m not sure if over-indulgence on rage-inducing blog posts counts as a luxury, and anyways, you’re probably not supposed to write blog posts proclaiming the things you’re giving up for Lent. So, potential fail on my part there, but I think doing this will be healthy for me regardless.

Obviously, as a blogger and a women’s studies major, I am still going to engage in and critique the world around me–I’m not going to lock myself in my room and hide from things that make me angry.

But I don’t have to spend hours reading through the archives at Boundless.org, nor do I have to engage with hateful commenters on Relevant Magazine (I can’t anymore anyways. I got banned for calling someone an “a-hole.” Not my proudest moment, but it was that experience that inspired this decision!).

I’m not going to change the world through hate-reading. Hate-reading only leaves me burnt out and miserable.

I hope this experience will help me learn how to draw lines between constructive criticism and emotional self-injury. I hope it will inspire me to find more creative and positive means of activism. I hope it will free up my time for prayer and reflection and action.

So, I’m giving up hate-reading for Lent!

Here’s to forty days of peace!

  • http://singleandpicky.blogspot.com Jenn

    I would love to – maybe in a few weeks after I finish my paper on Sexuality and the Church. I guess the sooner I write the paper the sooner I’ll be at peace.

  • http://intheendlovewins.wordpress.com intheendlovewins

    If you’re looking for something new and uplifting (though probably still challenging) to fill the void I would highly recommend the resources of Christians for Biblical Equality (http://www.cbeinternational.org/) of the teachings of Greg Boyd (I would highly recomend this to start: http://www.gregboyd.org/qa/christians-social-issues/what-is-your-stance-on-abortion/).

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  • http://zoundascri.wordpress.com zoundascri

    You can totally give up something like hate reading! From another point of view, you’re taking on the challenge of loving yourself more by ignoring the hateful people in the world, which is also a cool Lent goal.
    It’s not wrong to post or write about what you’re doing for Lent, but I’ve found that it’s not exactly necessary either. Some people (not me) see it as shameless self promotion. Other see it as a way to keep them accountable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaleb.marshall Kaleb Marshall

    I’ve had to do this myself a few times with various people. I have had to put them out of my life for a time, and then when things have calmed down, I can interact with them again.

    There’s an old example of a drunk man who fell off the left side of his horse, and because he thought things should be equal, got back up and fell off the right side too.

    I would also point out that if you do truly wish to reach the people who are falling off the right side of the horse, you aren’t going to reach them by getting angry at them. Love has a hard enough time penetrating to opposing ranks. If you just want to preach to your own choir, then you can get away with a lot.

    Getting angry is easy. Getting up and doing something TRULY constructive/productive about it is HARD.

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  • http://www.justalittlerae.blogspot.com rae

    Way to go! So great to see that, acknowledge it and make steps to change. I admit I indulge in hate reading as a sort of self-flagellation technique as well. For me, it’s facebook. Just a week ago I dropped off the facebook earth and my life has been much better for it. :) Not sure how long that will last, but I’m liking it so far!

  • http://gravatar.com/stephscottil stephscottil

    I found your blog randomly from twitter and wanted to commend you on an interesting “vice” to give up for lent. I was knee deep in a conversation about the cult behaviour of Mars Hill today (thus looking up stuff online) and you’re right, it’s almost self injurious to continue to read about misogynistic agendas wrapped in the guise of Jesus’ teachings. There’s a fine line btwn shutting ones self off from the world and setting a limit to reading emotionally damaging stuff all the time.

    All that to say, props to you and good luck with Lent.


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