I don’t like goals, I huffed to a friend inquiring about my New Year’s resolutions. She had just finished describing her creatively optimistic vision board for 2011, populated with images and words meant to inspire her to better living. Top on her list? Keeping positive when her life doesn’t meet expectations. You could say she was trying not to be a new year’s nag.
Nag. It’s a wenchy word indeed that’s almost as offensive to women as b**** or c***. It implies we are inherently whiners; think about the derogatory phrase sometimes used for men that admonishes them “not to get their panties in a bundle.” Personally, I think wearing tiny shorts as underwear is a bit softer than the heartbreaking chafing that comes with a bad thong. But the nag is as hard a stereotype for me to avoid as the angry feminist.
I can see it coming so clearly – when I am just about to fit the picture of the seething wife with a smile stretched across her cheek bones and an uncompleted honey-do list twisted in her hands. Choosing not to nag for some of us tumbles into an even more passive aggressive spiral of placid gestures. Just like choosing not be an angry feminist at times can water down some of the righteous anguish caused by true injustice. How do we become healthy nags or healthy feminists that don’t turn away those we love most but instead spur them on to fuller life? At the least, I could stop fake hurling every time my husband buys the wrong kind of yogurt (low-fat, not non-fat) or every time a Christian author uses the capitalized “Him.”
I think ideas make better nags than women. And this year I want to attend to those incessant pricklings, those glimpses of how I can truly birth a better life and not just one that includes my husband snoring less. These nags are after something bigger, more communal. They nag me to own my gift, to speak my voice, and to fight for others to do the same. And they nag me to extend grace to myself and to others when I realize again and again that the world and I are not as we should be but are in the process of being fully redeemed.
Perhaps another word for these nags is simply God. And if God is a healthy nag – and arguably an angry feminist, too – then I can think of nothing I’d rather be.