A Practice of Mercy


My birthday is coming up- Friday!- and this is the time of year when I start thinking about resolutions and reflecting on the year that’s passed. It’s my new year after all, another trip around the sun, and I always feel ready to get my act together before the calendar year changes.

We just returned from a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with my husband’s side of the family. We drove up to Missouri and spent time playing outside, snuggling up inside, eating all the food, reading, and talking about things big and small. As we were driving home Sunday I felt revived and rejuvenated and thinking about what I want my 34th year to feel like.

Last year was a rough one. A lot of change happened to a lot of people in my life. Some really awful things happened to a few of them. A lot of us got sicker than we’d ever been. It felt like piles and piles of, well, shit. But the light is beginning to break through all those cracks and I feel the healing and peace settling in all around us. I still feel a bit raw but ready to change. It has me thinking about intentions I would like to set for myself (and I have a list for Thursday so get ready!) but today I wanted to elaborate on something I’ve been pondering.

This past year I’ve gotten in a bad habit. In reflecting, I found that I have been what I call ‘venting’ a lot. About everyone and everything to a number of people. Now, having a couple of people in your life that you can talk to is one thing. I loved something Anne Lamott said at a recent talk about having that person that you can say ‘I hate this’ to and their response is ‘girl, me too.’

But the thing is, I have taken this too far and it’s turned into down right complaining. From people in my life, to situations that made me grumpy, to snarking on everything anyone liked. It’s not a good look. I want to start this new year by saying things that I wouldn’t mind broadcasting to the world, things I would be proud for anyone to hear. To culling down my venting to a few close people and cutting out the gossip, the bitching, and focus on another practice.

I need to practice more mercy. Towards those I love, towards those I hardly know, towards the world in general, and maybe, most importantly, towards myself. When I take a breath and remind myself to find that grace, lo and behold, my attitude changes as I act out with kindness rather than snark.

It’s tricky though. Snarky can be funny and snarky can be truth telling, but it can also be exhausting and ugly and a cover for yourself. I get tired of everyone’s hot takes so I know others have to get tired of mine.

I have no issues with getting older. I’m actually truly grateful that I get another year, another chance to love and to laugh, to learn and explore, but I would like to make it a year I get better. I’m looking back on 2017 and seeing the light that got through, the grace that hit me when I least expected it, and it makes me want to extend that light to the world around me and to myself a little bit more.

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