It’s been one of those times lately, when the soul goes searching for meaning and all signs point in the same direction: Quiet. Silence, to hear the still small voice. And encouragement to accept what it says, even when the message is hard.
It was a rough week, last week–all those snow days, being cooped up and diverted from routine–and I didn’t handle it well. In the few moments I took to be quiet and still, the message I heard was, indeed, very hard. It said I was making my life, and my family’s, much harder than it actually was. I was resentful. I complained a lot. My fuse started out short and dwindled quickly. Nothing was good enough, and instead of looking on the bright side, I rode my attitude down a tight corkscrew of negativity.
Waking the soul is never a comfortable process. Recognition of one’s smallness–pettiness–is something everyone needs periodically, but when you get yourself stuck in a rut, it requires a real effort to suction your feet out of the mud. A bad attitude can always justify itself. There’s always cause for frustration, and that’s never more true than when you’ve managed to get yourself into a funk. You don’t put yourself in a funk, after all. It happens because lots of small irritants pile on top of each other and get blown way out of proportion.
The problem is, you get tired of feeling put-upon, so you defend yourself by expecting things to go wrong, thus justifying your bad reaction when, of course, they do. It’s an ugly cycle that almost everyone–maybe everyone–falls into at some point.
The trouble is that some people fall in, and they stay there. You know you’ve met people like that. People who are perpetually negative, perpetually angry at the world.
That’s not who I want to be. But it would be very easy for me to become that person.
I reached the pinnacle of this awareness twelve minutes into Mass yesterday, with a single line that I got to sing several times, to make sure the message sank in:
The just man is a light in darkness to the upright. (Ps. 112)
A light in darkness. That’s what I want to be. Not a proselytizer, not a finger wagger, not a complainer, not someone who lets five days stuck in the house turn her into a fire-breathing dragon.
A light in darkness. Someone whose actions and attitude breathe joy and peace into the world around her. Who lifts people up.
That’s a stretch for me, I’m afraid, but then again, maybe it’s a stretch for all of us. So I embrace this time of soul-waking, of soul-stretching, uncomfortable as it is, and the opportunity to wend my way back toward the narrow path yet again.