I watched a movie last night, who’s plot was about a man who had been dumped by his longtime girlfriend and was struggling to get back to dating again. He had two problems. The first was he still genuinely missed his old girlfriend and he didn’t know how to put that behind him. The second was he had lost his confidence to approach women.
The movie shows him doing a number of awkward attempts at approaching women. Half of them started with him trying to present himself as someone desirable. But it wouldn’t take long for the woman he approached to challenge him on his “resume” and then he’d crumble, having been exposed as a fraud.
The other half of the time he’d attempt the opposite approach, coming from a position of vulnerability. We’d admit he missed his girlfriend and talk about how horrible his life was. The result was always the same: a very sympathetic woman who had zero romantic interest in him.
And then he’d torture himself about what he should do since neither approach was working.
The resolution to the problem was that he kept working at it until the day came, unbeknownst to him, that he had genuinely healed from the pain of having been dumped. That night he approached a woman and came from a position of both genuine interest in her but also a humility that didn’t require inflating his “resume”.
Isn’t this the journey we’re all trying to make? (and I don’t just mean in romance) Aren’t we all trying to get to a place of authenticity?
I think this is a big part of what the journey of Lent is about. We’re all frauds. We’re all sinners pretending to be saints. But at the same time, we know it is not ideal to wallow in our sinfulness. And we don’t know how to split the difference between being a fraud and wallowing. Sure, there are times when we can do no better than wallowing, but it is a moment when we need others to serve us and help us. God calls us to be servants, not to be served.
No, instead our goal is to reach that place where we accept our own sinfulness and the cross that it comes with. But instead of wallowing and being stuck in one place, we find the strength to do the hard work of carrying our cross. To proclaim to the world: I am a sinner but I am carrying my cross, doing my best to journey towards sainthood.