Somehow, we’ve made it to 2022. And unfortunately, we’re somehow still … here. In whatever this is. I think we all know, all too well, the myriad problems in the world right now – no need to elaborate, is there?
But what we don’t always seem to know is how to respond to all the **this** in the world right now. All too often, it seems, we choose to respond by getting angry, short tempered, disagreeable, impatient, and worse. It’s so easy to take our frustrations with the state of the world, or at the least the state of our lives, out on those who have the least to do with it. The stranger in the online comment section, the attendant in the checkout line, our child’s teacher – or our children themselves, the car in front of us who isn’t going quite fast enough … I suspect you’ve been there at some (many) point(s) in the last 2 years.
Somewhere around June 2020, I realized how much I was choosing to respond to the pandemic with anger, impatience, and everything in between. I was short with my kids, short with my husband, short with those around me, and incredibly hard on myself. The fact was that everything felt incredibly out of my control – and I suspect that you can relate to that, too. Looking back, I wish I would have acknowledged just how much I was struggling with my lack of control. I wish I would have taken the time to explore that feeling, to live in it, to deal with being uncomfortable in it. What more could I have learned, about myself, my family, and the world around me, if I had surrendered to the lack of control instead of fought so hard against?
But instead, I plowed through. As we all did, for the most part. And now, here we are, 2 years later, and though much has changed, so little hasn’t. The good news is, though, that we can still change. Even now. We can learn to become more comfortable with our lack of control. We can learn to let go of what we cannot control. We can remember that what we can control is how we respond to the situations we find ourselves in – as uncertain and out of control as they may seem.
We can choose to respond with anger, impatience, and frustration. Lord knows, it feels warranted at this point for so many reasons. But instead, I’m choosing to respond with more grace that necessary – or trying, at least. More grace to the cashier, even if I’m frustrated by waiting in line. More grace to other drivers, even the ones who tail me when I’m just trying to obey the speed limit. Much, much more grace to my husband and my kids – oh, how they deserve it. And more grace to myself … because I’m learning that I deserve it, too.
So this year, resolve to respond with more grace than necessary, in all circumstances. Because although we don’t know the exact details of what those around us have been through recently, we can be pretty certain that it hasn’t been easy for anyone.
Let that grace extend to yourself as well. Release yourself from unfair expectations. Allow yourself to just be, as much as you can, without putting on overwhelming burdens of “success” and “accomplishment.” Take pride, instead, in the kindness you extend to others, the care you show to those who need it most, and the compassion you have for others (and yourself). Take good care of yourself. Embrace rest, say no when needed, and make it a point not to glorify “busy” and “normal” in times such as these. Forgive yourself for past mistakes, for misplaced frustration, for failures in pandemic parenting or pandemic teaching or whatever else you’ve been hanging on to.
It’s not easy, of course, but I believe it will be worth it. This year, and the next, and on again: Respond with more grace that necessary- especially to yourself.
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