Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lenten Project Footnote

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.'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.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I gather that you and I have one trait in common: we take what someone else writes (maybe too) seriously, so we want to respond and point out the other options or opinions that might pertain. Well, I did that on some ____ Lutheran blogs (fill in other branch, named after a state somewhat south of mine.) I always try to write diplomatically, even if I'm stating my strongly held opinion. But I'd get replies, even from the pastors, that made me feel like dirt. I was told right out that opinions and feelings aren't valid.

Since you've mentioned BN in the past, you'd be dealing with people of many stripes. And the more rigid branches of Christianity and the cultish branches of Christianity seem to hold to simplistic, black/white, and unimaginative views of God and faith. There seems to be an connection made between what the "believer" knows about God and whether that person will be saved, as if we are saved by our knowledge. Any threat to that knowledge threatens that person's sense of whether he is saved. Even though so much emphasis is put on Biblical knowledge, the "faith" of the person seems to rest on his own perception of knowledge rather than on the promises of God.

Hey, delete this if it is too much of an over the top opinion.

LutheranChik said...

It's not over the top at all.

I'm taking the tack of [cue classic Seinfeld moment] "It's not you; it's me."

Sophia said...

What an unexpected and cool and nonHallmarky result of the under-appreciated and -attempted practice of actually praying for your enemy....Go God, go you.