Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. As a Catholic Christian, Lent is an important time for me. It is a 40 day journey (47 if you count weekend days) toward Easter. It is a time to pray better, reflect more, and strive to end the journey different than when I started. I hope to have a stronger relationship with Christ as a result of this Lenten journey. I hope to have a stronger relationship with myself as a result of this Lenten journey.
Every year I start Lent with great enthusiasm. I actually love Ash Wednesday. I love getting ashes. I love that the ashes come from burning the palms used on Palm Sunday the previous year. The cyclical nature of the Church’s seasons is very comforting to me. Catholics also do symbols really well. I love the symbolism of the ashes- “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
In my circles (very small ones on Twitter and Facebook), there is talk about “what did you give up for Lent?” There are many great responses- eating out, cursing, sweets, caffeine, Facebook, sugar. I decided a few days ago that I was going to take a huge personal risk (Risk is my #oneword2014) and give up public postings of snark. For 47 days, I will try to make all of my public posts, wall comments, and tweets positive. I will not post sarcastic, snarky things in response to what I read.
This is a huge deal for me. Snark is my sugar. I love snark. I am addicted to snark. Snark is hard to resist. It feels so good going down.
I use snark to be funny and self-deprecating, to put others at ease, to feel smart. I used to think that my snark was justified because I am from the east coast, smart, and been through more than most of my peers. While these things may be true in my head, they do not matter to the outside world.
Several people whom I know and love have told me that I am direct. I thought this was a good thing. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. What you see is what you get. These are good things. In context. With people who know and love me and whom I know and love. Snark is not a good thing without the context of relationship.
I am slowly learning that snark is my shield, my armor, my way to strike first. It also creates distance. It puts the receiver on the defensive, or leaves them confused. That is the opposite of the impact that I want to have. This is the opposite of the impact that I do have with the students, colleagues, and friends who know me well.
Snark is my sugar. It is so, so good going down. But after a bit, the sugar high wears off and I get a headache.
So, this Lent, I am going to try really hard to give up snark. I am going to be honest and positive, not direct and snarky. I am going to challenge myself to start, endure, and finish Lent strong. I am taking a huge risk by doing this and by telling you all about it. I welcome and appreciate your love, prayers, and words of encouragement.