I don’t make new year’s resolutions because I don’t believe in waiting to make changes once a year. That just seems silly to me, seems to set yourself up for failure with a lot of heavy expectations and pomp and circumstance. I prefer to make changes when needed, as needed. And since these changes are usually about self-improvement or improving the quality of my life, these changes are needed on a continuous basis because I’m a bit of a fixer-upper.
I can always stand to be more patient and understanding. I could use some work on self-care and kindness. I am also on a constant quest for grace. To be more gracious, to give more grace. So I work on this daily, and some days are better than others. Sometimes I need reminders. I have temporary tattoos of “Grace” for a visual nudge. I even brought home an abandoned kitten I named Grace.
I expect the quality of my life will improve when I bring more grace into my life. I believe I should be more content and that life should be better if I offered more grace, if I was more gracious. And sometimes I remember that Shoulds get me nowhere except stuck. Just like what happens when you invite Grace into your home, and she gets stuck in your Christmas tree.
Turns out I had forgotten kittens are furballs on crack, intent on scratching new leather furniture and breaking glass ornaments. Turns out that you can invite grace into your life, into your home, but grace doesn’t automatically make your life or home calmer or better or more joyful. Turns out that having grace in your home simply means you’ve opened your heart and home to the opportunities of love, connection, sweet moments. And you’ve also opened your heart and home to minor destruction, lots of screaming and spray bottles, and frustration.
Turns out kittens are a lot like life. Some moments are better than others. The joy accompanies the pain. And things aren’t always what you think they will be. This all reminds me of a common misconception about meditation. Oftentimes people seek a meditation practice because they believe it will end their suffering. It is hard work, the being still and accepting, and when you think you’ve sorta got the hang of it, you realize there’s no end to pain and losses and hurts. But wait, I thought if I learned how to be still, I should not feel depressed or hurt again! But you do realize the experience, the suffering, is different. We have these expectations of outcomes once we master a skill or take an action, yet oftentimes reality is a bit different than what we bargained for.
Some years ago I started working on being vulnerable, authentic, brave. I needed to figure out who I really was, and I needed to like who I am. I also knew my past relationships failed in part because I had not been vulnerable, authentic, brave. So I did a lot of hard work, and I love the place where I am now, and I love who I am now. I also realized I thought I should have better relationships, should feel more joy, should be coupled successfully, once I was more vulnerable and brave.
And yet I find that I’ve also felt pain, also had to redefine success, also still have no relationship. But…I thought once I got there, was brave, was gracious, things would fall into place! And I’m reminded that I did fall into place. I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment, with Grace in my home reminding me to take down the Christmas tree.