At the beginning of Lent I wrote about how I'd undertaken the project of praying for a particular journalist/columnist whose by-turns embittered, obsessional and at times simply mean commentary is so troubling to me that, ironically, I couldn't stop reading it.
I'd love to report that this process resulted in some sort of metanoia moment in my feelings toward him. But instead I will share a prayer that serendipitously appeared today when I went to visit the Beliefnet website:
Heavenly Father, I sometimes get into relationships
that are not good for me.
Please help me better discern how I relate to
the people in my life
and give me the wisdom to know when a relationship
is not giving you glory and is harmful to me.
Bring me courage to avoid toxic relationships
and help nurture what is good and just in all things.
Okay...it's not exactly in the league of the Book of Common Prayer, but you know where the author is coming from.
The result of my little experiment is that I've lost interest in engaging with this type of individual perhaps because I've developed a more realistic sense of my ability to deal with negativity without becoming infected with it myself. The fact of the matter is...I'm not very good at it.
I recall a time in my life when I developed a taste for reading true crime stories. I don't know why; perhaps that genre appeals because the horror of violent death puts everyday anxieties into perspective, or because of the good vs. evil subtext of such books that lets us be vicarious heroes as we root for the detectives and investigators who crack the case. But after awhile I started feeling as if I were carrying around residual darkness from what I'd been reading; a dark film developing over my soul. One day I reached for a book on my nightstand, stopped midway...and said, "I don't need this in my life."
I think maybe I've come to the same conclusion with writers and bloggers who endulge in negativity, either to exorcize their own demons or because provocation keeps readers, whether fer or agin, coming back for more. They make me feel dark inside.