[The overwrought photo-metaphor: which way to turn?]
I’ve (for no apparent reason) been keeping a mental tally, in the past couple weeks, of Times When I Know I’m Sort Of Being Horrible But Can’t Help It. (The capital letters are probably overdramatic, but I’m going to press on.) Here’s a sampling (past events, present tense):
- I wonder aloud at dinner with my parents and sister why our grandparents are so boring. “They just watch TV… ask us about school and work… complain about their lives. Why don’t they do anything interesting with us? Why don’t they seem to enjoy anything? Why are they always worrying about everything?” (Some embellishment added for effect.) Immediately I feel guilty though I still believe it, not-so-deep down. I know they’re old and that worry (however annoying) is the only way they know how to show that they care. But I still fault them for it.
- I have a horribly hard time forgiving a friend for being careless, borderline disrespectful. I keep sort-of replaying the scene in my head and getting worked up about it. Why did I even try to care if she obviously doesn’t? It’s exacerbated by the inconvenience of moving (inevitable) and the sentimentality of saying goodbyes and makes me crabby for days on end. I know I should tell God, I’m upset about this; please help fix, and move on, and I do, sort-of halfheartedly. But I also relish not turning-round on my anger, so sooner or later the memory dredges up, and I’m frustrated all over again. Turning ’round isn’t so easy.
- I’m reading a fairly engrossing book, kind of period-crampy (ok to talk about now that New York is jettisoning its tampon tax, right?), and my mother wants to take me shopping, which I only enjoy under particular circumstances. (In other words, I resent not getting to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it, which at that moment means wallowing in a book and some measure of self-pity, positioned nicely at home.) I go to placate her but reward her chattiness with only occasional acknowledgements; and rebuff the majority of her clothing suggestions (though we chance upon one select, sale success, thankfully); knowing all the while I should be kinder because she’s my mother and has been wanting to take me shopping for a while now, etc.
Sooner or later the cloud of grouchiness passes and I realize I meant it but I didn’t mean it; feel rather sorry and wish for a do-over. In the moment, though, turning around feels so difficult as to be well-nigh impossible. “Well, I’m right about this, aren’t I? They are boring; she was inconsiderate; I’m just not into this right now,” on and on I could go. I guess in some trivial way I am right, but in failing to choose generosity and kindness I’m more misguided than not. The worst part is that by stewing in frustration I’m bypassing happiness myself, choosing blindness over joy like C. S. Lewis’s proverbial dwarves.
All that’s needed, usually, is a willingness to turn ’round (and maybe a deprecating sense of humor about my self-preoccupation): easier said than done. I suppose, though, pliability and restraint necessarily take practice and help (read: grace that makes virtue easy). I’m quite bad at repenting (another word for turning ’round), especially when I’m still bludgeoning my way forward. It’s weird that I need help to even ask for help, right? I’ll be praying for the grace to say sorry; please help: I’m sort-of wanting to turn but can’t. I’ve far to go, but I hear he only needs a bit of willingness to steer a new ways. Here’s to a new wind for the next sail. (I’m really sleepy and trying to make my ending ending-like: so I hope that metaphor worked.)
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