The four lies we tell ourselves

FJ May 2024

Have you ever heard a homily that challenged your way of thinking? I experienced one of those homilies a few months ago.

The priest began, “You know, there are four lies that many of us tell ourselves”. He explained: The first is, “We are what we do”. That is, we believe we are valued for the prestige of the job or the position we hold. Or our value is measured by our ability to be productive and get things done.

The second is, “We are what we have”. That is, we believe we are valued by the amount and/or quality of the material possessions we own – house, car, smartphone, etc. We might even measure our value by the spouse or number of children we have.

The third is, “We are our reputation”. That is, we believe we are valued by the hard work and sacrifices we have endured to build our reputation. Climbing the corporate ladder, holding positions of power and being an upstanding citizen increases our importance in society and among friends and family.

The fourth is, “We are what we look like”. That is, we believe we are valued because of our good looks, chic hairstyle, smart clothes and matching accessories. Even if we don’t think we are that good looking, we spend considerable time dieting, styling, wearing the latest fashions and adopting the newest trends – just so we can look fabulous!

However, all these things are passing. Tomorrow we could lose our jobs and our possessions. Reputations which have taken a long time to build can be quickly lost. And, in terms of our looks, they will fade.  

And, what about those of us who believe in these four lies, but because of circumstances beyond our control have no ability to “do” useful things, have very few possessions, have no reputation to speak of, and will never be Cinderella? No matter how hard we try we will never be “enough” by the standards we place on ourselves and others.

The one thing we are, though, is beloved sons and daughters of God. No matter what we do, what we have, how good or bad our reputation is, or what we look like, God loves us unconditionally. This can be a very hard thing to accept or even believe. And for some people it might not be that important because they are striving for affirmation and acceptance in this world.

We invite you to take some time to think about these four lies we tell ourselves. Do you have a balanced approach to the things of this world or is there room in your heart and mind to consider and enjoy God’s bountiful love for you?


Image:  Lightstock
Words: Sharon Brewer (with thanks to Fr Chris de Souza for his permission to refer to his homily)

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