I’m learning to ask for virtues instead of things. For so much of my life, I’ve made prayer a wish list: God, give me money. God, give me health. But the book of James says we should ask for wisdom — “boldly, believingly” — so, slowly and grudgingly as always, I’ve started doing that.

I have such a mean streak, so I pray and ask for love.

I’m embarrassingly quick to slam my hand on the horn of my car, or roll my eyes and shove past slow walkers, so I pray and ask for patience.

And steadily, those gifts of wisdom have piled onto me, heavy, and they’re better than health and money. It’s the kind of thing I’d normally say because it sounds good, but this time I’m saying it because it’s all over my life. It’s true.

I’m learning that there’s time. I want so badly to live in the heart of everything, to walk or take the train everywhere, to (yes) live in a cool neighborhood.

But I can’t afford it. And there are people in every cool, walkable, middle-of-everything neighborhood who couldn’t afford any better than the ‘burbs when they were 24.

I’m doing what I can. And I’m lucky. And there’s time.

I’m learning that “people are complicated” does not translate to “stay away from people.” Even though I’m such an introvert that I search for reasons to wall people off. Things they messed up. Things I messed up.

But that’s so wrong-headed, I’m learning, because if you wait for people who fit the criteria in your head, or hold out for the exact behavior you want from yourself, you will end up with no one.

And we weren’t meant to live like that.

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