As 2015 prepares to haul on its cloak and make its exit, I cannot help but throw my mind back over what has made my life important this year. Not just the wifely things or the mommy things, but what has been important to me, Mel, as a person.
I feel like this year has been defined for me by the Cinderella maxim “Have courage and be kind“. I have endeavored to make the spaces I inhabit in life as kind, encouraging, and edifying as possible. The world is already full of so much negativity, hate, pain, and darkness; it hurts my heart and tugs on my soul so hard. I know that I have the gift of encouragement; I love to email, write notes and letters, and, in general, make sure that people know that they are they loved, cared for, and important in this world. Someone once told me that I should try to keep track of just how many letters, cards, and emails I send, that it would give me an idea of just how many lives I touch. I have considered it but I never really get around to keeping count; I just enjoy the doing of it, truthfully. One of the best things I did this year, I think, was I started “scripting” (letter writing) for The World Needs More Love Letters, an organization started by Hannah Brencher, where requests are sent in by friends and loved ones for love letters to be sent to those who need a little extra light and love in their lives. I have greatly enjoyed being a part of this endeavor, especially their event in December, Twelve Days of Love Letters. I have sent letters all over the US and even to Australia, Scotland, and Germany, which just makes my heart smile all over the place.
I have also worked to make my corners of the online world a place where people can find encouragement, uplifting, light, and love, and are free to ask for a pick-me-up if they find themselves soul-weary or feeling alone. Everyone deserves and needs some extra light sometimes and I really want to make sure that they get it.
Sometimes, showing love, having courage, and being kind aren’t easy, no. There are a few quotes that float to mind when those hard times come:
“Grace is a better choice than bitterness.” — Law and Order: SVU, Episode: “Transgender Bridge”.
“Our words always fold into the souls of other human beings. That’s no small thing.” – Jennifer Dukes Lee
“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” – Samuel Johnson
These quotes remind me of what is important: grace, kindness, love, and choosing to show them even if we might not particularly feel them at the time. Feelings can be indicators of something we need to consider or process, but they do not have to dictate our actions. We can still make the choice to act with grace, even if we don’t feel very gracious at the moment.
The second quote strikes me every time, the idea that our words–good and bad–fold into people’s souls. Words don’t ever just evaporate into the air; they touch the hearts and souls of others, wrap around, and pierce into them. I can tell you several instances in which I can recall comments said to me word for word, words of criticism as well as words of kindness. Words stick with us so we would do excellently to use our words well and do as much good with them as possible.
Last year, I noted that I felt like my song of the year was “Landslide”. This year, I would definitely say that it’s been “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine, but especially the renditions done by the television shows Glee and Smash. I honestly cannot listen to that song but feel like, for lack of a better phrase, that I’ve been in church. There are two lines that always strike me to my core and feel like a renewal of conviction every time:
And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Every day is new. A new chance to do good, to show grace (both to yourself and to others). So while I don’t believe in “cutting out” my heart, I do believe in making conscious choices to improve it. I have been working hard to make grace my choice. To make love my choice. To make peace my choice. And I want to carry that into this coming year. As I said in a previous post, happiness and kindness were my watchwords this past year. I am still praying about it but, rather than resolutions of any sort, I feel more and more the word grace wrap around me as my goal for this coming year. To try, in all that I do, to hold onto grace, to extend it to myself as well as to others.
2016 is fast approaching. May I not only offer but actively look for grace this year. May I look for it in the quiet moments, in the joyful moments, in the moments that aren’t so quiet or so calm. May I look for opportunities to offer grace, to show grace, to choose grace.