Not coming from a particularly church-going family, I don’t usually observe Lent. This morning, guided by a tweet from my friend Ellen, I read a blog post about why this guy loves Ash Wednesday. While I’ve always thought of Lent as an opportunity to give up a comfort in order to test yourself and your faith, he said something that blew my mind a little:
Lent is not about self-flagellation, but it is about penitence. Penitence isn’t very fashionable these days, but that does not diminish its importance. We have all messed up. Badly. And we need to say we’re sorry — to God and to one another.
After having a pretty ugly fight with NJS this morning, this definitely hit home. The fight was about a topic we’ve been visiting often lately, and with a great deal of tension. It has to do with how much I struggle emotionally in winter, how the meanness of cramped city attitude wears my soul down to a nub, how the crippling expense of living here can steal your dreams and drown them in high rents, and how desperately I miss spring in March, streets lined with Dogwood treees, grits, sweet tea, and people who smile and say “y’all.”
Lately all of these things have turned me into a Negative Nellie, if you want to put a cute name on a real problem. I’m critical and dismissive of just about everything around me, and while it’s lead to some pretty witty barbs, I’ll admit, it’s also dragging me and NJS and anyone who has to listen to me down. It makes NJS feel like he’s the bad guy for keeping me here in Boston, while I feel like the bad guy for pushing so hard to go to Carolina in more than my mind.
The truth is that NJS isn’t keeping me here – I’m keeping myself here because I love my job, I love my friends, I love digging my hands into the city like a garden and finding ways to let the buds of innovation be free to grow (yeah, I said it.) Once the green space here is actually green, I’ll be much happier living here and will say as much often. I, however, have been one hell of a bad guy, by whining and wheedling at every turn when what we both need is positivity, and probably 14 billion hours of sleep.
I am truly penitent. I am sorry for the negativity I’m putting out into a world that clearly doesn’t need it. I’m sorry to Boston for only loving you when you’re nice to me and kicking you back when you’re mean. I’m most of all so sorry to NJS for being a point of stress and not a point of support. This year for Lent, I am giving up negativity. I am going to scale back the snark, because it doesn’t make me feel good to be That Girl Who Rants. I am going to focus my energy on finding the good, promoting the positive, and making the best of what’s already a pretty good life.