How Do We Overcome Vanity?
Overcoming vanity, like any sin, takes time, effort, perseverance, and of course, the grace of God. But I’ve found these three habits helpful in my fight against this sin:
For me going to confession routinely is really helpful. Confession puts me back at the feet of the cross, reminds me of the amazing mercy of God, and in receiving that unceasing mercy and love I am humbled. And let me tell you–opportunities to be humbled are key to overcoming vanity.
Full disclosure: About one week before I was asked to write this blog post, I was kneeling in the confessional, confessing…. you named it…. vanity. (The irony that I was asked to write about this very topic–why it is a sin and how to overcome it–was not lost on me. God really does have a way of answering our prayers in the most unexpected ways.)
For my penance, the priest told me to pray Psalm 8. As I read, I was struck by verses 4-6:
“When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god,crowned him with glory and honor.”
How true are these words. One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to lie on the beach at night–with the vast ocean crashing before me, the millions of grains of sand beneath me, and the trillions of stars above me–I am reminded just how small I am in the midst of all of God’s glorious creation, and there is such peace and comfort in that smallness. And then I marvel that our God, who created the oceans and the stars and the earth, has created each of us– you and me–in His image–and I am practically brought to my knees.
Be in constant dialogue with God. He knows all of your thoughts already, so you might as well be honest with Him! If you are struggling with body image, or what other people think of you, turn it over to God in prayer. Ask Him for the grace to grow in the virtue of humility…and be prepared to be humbled! Pray to be free from the fears of judgement, free from the bonds of perfectionism, free from the fear of other people’s opinions of you.