It’s a new year, and I couldn’t be happier. I imagine you are right there with me.
It’s all too easy to remember the bad of 2020. Canceled vacations. Remote learning. Lockdowns, unfamiliar yet necessary health recommendations. Ubiquitous death and illness. Record global temperatures, wildfires, and hurricanes. Street weddings, street violence, racial prejudice, delayed funerals, and sports without fans in the stands. Those were but a few examples of last year’s upside-down waywardness.
A pair of intertwining events dominated nearly every aspect of our lives here in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic enwrapped presidential election news as if it were kudzu strangling a forest. You know the caustic results.
We can remember the good of 2020. Puzzle swaps, mask-making, thank you parades, individual acts of random kindness, curbside pickup, quilting, contemplation, prayer, silence, self-reflection.
However, as nostalgic as I can be, I have no desire to even look back on 2020. Learn from it? Yes. Reminisce, regurgitate, or even reflect, no!
Still, we will need to start this new year right where we left off. The wane of 2020 doesn’t mean dropping the safety standards instituted to quell the pandemic. If anything, we will need to be even more diligent and obedient to health officials’ directives.
We cannot afford to repeat the interpersonal degradations that occurred all too often last year. If we are to put this horrific human behavior behind us, we must be better than that as individuals, families, communities, and as a nation. Vaccines can’t inoculate us against hate.
We all will be better off as individuals, families, communities, and society to spend our efforts, energies, and opportunities by looking ahead and looking around us. We all need to put aside our prejudices, preferences, and prerogatives and be better citizens than we were last year.
Approaching the new year with a new attitude is the only way all of our lives will improve. There are no exceptions.
It won’t be easy, but if we grant each other even a sliver of grace, the world will improve for you and me. We need to silence our shouting and institute our listening.
We need to put our egos aside and truly hear what others are saying. If we disagree with the words, tone, and content, we need to ask for clarification, understanding, and sometimes forgiveness.
Looking inside our souls, our own beliefs, our priorities are always the right places to start each day. Be gracious toward yourself, and then offer the same measure of mercy toward others. You might be surprised by both the results and the rewards.
That is how we live in grace. Grace requires that we move with elegance and live with courteous goodwill towards all, including ourselves. Being gracious toward others makes you vulnerable. Nevertheless, vulnerability is the highway to change.
The responsibility to be compassionate and resilient resides in all of us. Vulnerability drives both of those human qualities.
Vulnerability requires courage, patience, and strength. In the words of author Brene Brown, vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up, be seen, and have no control over winning or losing.
So in 2021, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be patient. Be generous, and the only way to do that is to be gracious and vulnerable. Do so in the right way at the right time with the right persons. When is that? Right now!
Can we be so bold, so humble, so passionate about compassion to answer in the affirmative? If we can, then 2021 will be a better year in every way than the previous one.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2020
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