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Lara Patangan ponders our need to walk away from influences that seem positive but are actually infiltrated with lies.

I took piano lessons as a kid until the instructor told my mom she was wasting her money. The only thing he taught me to play was “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” which no one thinks is impressive no matter how passionately I play it for them. As such, I don’t claim to know much about music—other than I like it.

At home, I often ask “Alexa” to play music for me. Alexa is the virtual assistant who likes to pretend she can’t hear me when I give her a command. She’s also a spy for the federal government who is convinced that me talking to my cat is some kind of secret code. Anyway, one day I was picking up around the house and I asked Alexa to play classical music. (When you play classical music in a dirty house, the mess doesn’t feel as ordinary—and since my family makes extraordinary messes, it’s fitting background music.)

A few songs in, I heard a strange caterwauling sound. I asked my husband where the peculiar sound was coming from and after a few minutes of concerted listening to these intermittent moans we realized that the sound was coming from Alexa. (We don’t have a cat named Alexa, so I am referring to the virtual assistant.)

It turns out that when I asked Alexa to play classical music, she picked a genre of music known as Classical Erotica. I was horrified. I briefly imagined the embarrassment of having people over for dinner with erotic music for ambiance. I added this to my long list of why I should avoid cooking.


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But the whole thing made me wonder what else is seeping into our consciousness. What messages chosen by technology, the media, promoters, and influencers impact us in ways that, if they were better examined, actually contradict our values? What do we read, watch, or listen to that seems positive but is infiltrated with lies that are counter to what we know of God’s word?

One such message that comes to mind is the self-care movement that society uses to market everything from cosmetics to Caribbean vacations. On the surface there isn’t anything wrong with things that make us feel better. If God didn’t want us to rest, he would not have given us the Sabbath and commanded us to keep it. He wouldn’t have poured out His mercy to soothe the ache of hardships. Jesus wouldn’t have died for our sins if He was indifferent to how much it hurts us and others. He wouldn’t have shown us so many examples of compassion if He didn’t value the need for its respite.

Embracing these things, embracing Him, is the highest form of self-care we can experience. Immersing ourselves in His Word, asking for His forgiveness, accepting His mercy, spending time in prayer, and emulating His gentle and generous Spirit offers a sustaining renewal that we can’t get from worldly things.


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The need for self-care is real. But genuine self-care is relational: between you and God. #catholicmom


We live in a society where it’s easy to feel overworked and undervalued. Our personal relationships can be challenging and life’s demands sometimes feel like a cresting tsunami. The need for self-care is real. But genuine self-care is relational: between you and God. Wrap yourself in His compassion. Rest in His word. Renew yourself in His mercy.

It’s in your relationship with God that lasting and genuine self-care can go from mere background music that is only temporary and tepid to a full concerto that stirs your heart and stills your anxieties. With God at the center of your self-care, beautiful music can be made—the kind you wouldn’t be embarrassed to play at a dinner party.



Copyright 2022 Lara Patangan
Images: Canva