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The Sin of Self Respect & Me

As I was perusing several of my favorite blogs I discovered this article written by Msgr. Charles Pope titled, Overcoming The Sin of Human Respect.  Right away I was hooked and convicted at the same time.  Hooked because I thought that the subject matter was grossly interesting and convicted since I realized that I struggled greatly with this sin.

You see at heart I am a crowd pleaser.  I love making people laugh, feel important, and validated.  At its best this ability allows me to connect with others. Conversely I am also addicted to the praise, adulation, and acceptance of others. I crave acceptance so much so that it causes me to water down my deepest held beliefs. There have been many times where I have chosen to hide my beliefs for fear of being rejected by others.

For example at my internship site I try to pray before each meal.  In the beginning of the internship I would make a sign of the cross and bow before each meal.  Now instead I only pray when I realize that no one is sitting next to me.  Another example occurred several days ago when a coworker after cursing asked me if it bothered me.  I, the coward said no, another missed opportunity. This fear is so powerful that I even avoid confronting people even if they are blatantly wrong. This desire has caused me to be taken advantage of, and to present an inconsistent faith to the public. 

Make no mistake about it I hate this sin.  I struggle with it greatly. I know it is wrong and I feel terrible about it. I pray daily, and try to confess it regularly, yet still I stumble like a Peter denying the Lord not 3 times but a million times. I am afraid if the cock crows anymore it will die on my account. I have taken the "preach by example" mantra too literally; so literally that I am rendered a mute. Sometimes words are necessary.  There are times where I need to speak out; yet often times I don't.

At core I fear rejection more than anything else in the world. I guess on some level this is human, but at its core it implies a lack of faith. Because if I truly believed and loved the Lord then it wouldn't matter what others thought of me. The only thing that would matter would be what the Lord thought. I wouldn't be a slave to the transient opinions of others. I would be free, I would be who God wanted me to be not somebody else.

I believe that the origins of this sin came partially as a result of my parent's troubled marriage.  On some level my desire to fit in stems from the fact that as a child I never was truly accepted from my dad.  So in order to meet this legitimate need I substituted it with the need to be accepted by others.  As the saying goes, "Old wounds die hard."  In my case I am still craving my father's acceptance albeit in a roundabout spiritually unhealthy way.

The good news in all of this is that I have a perfect father now; who understands my weaknesses and failings.  I have a father who is willing to forgive me, "seventy times, seven"  Even if I can't comprehend this astounding fact the Lord still loves me.   Still I regret all the times that I have allowed human respect to get in the way of my relationship with the Lord.  I want to be bold like a St. Paul, St. Augustine, like the early disciples who were willing to die for the faith.  That's who I am at core; that is the man that God created me to be.

Lord it is my prayer that you heal me from this sin and instead infuse my being with that heroic courage which inspired the saints to give their lives completely to you.  Lord help me to become a great saint. Amen.


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