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…
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.
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!