I recently downloaded an app – I can’t remember the name right now, but I’ll find my phone later and update this with the title – that prompts me several times a day to record the thoughts, feelings or experiences I’m having at the moment. As part of my scrapbooking/Project Life, I’ve realized that one thing I regularly forget are the little tidbits – the things that happened outside of the photographs and between the blog posts and surrounding the highlights. This app seemed custom fit for my situation, and I feel a little giddy four times a day when my phone lights up and reminds me to observe the moment.
I lost track of the fledgling habit while I crammed every available minute of the last few weeks full of Christmas preparations, but once the festivities concluded I revisited the app to begin (again) the process of recording the minutiae.
To say I was shocked at what I found since I left was an understatement.
I hadn’t recorded many updates before I got side-tracked by Christmas, but of the ones I did record, many of them – perhaps most of them – included complaints. Icky, ugly, perfectionistic, judgmental complaints, some of them overt and some of them couched in positive stories and some of them with more of a passive aggressive seasoning. I don’t know a lot about the chemistry of cooking, but I do know one thing – passive aggressive does not taste good. It’s a little bitter with a side of acid and burn.
When I think back on this Christmas season, I know I’ll remember the magic – the magic I posted about in my last several posts. Christmas was beautiful and good and holy and breathtaking in exactly the ways I hoped it would be. Apparently, I also spent a fair bit of time being annoyed and angry, too. Partly, I’m glad I don’t remember those points, because in retrospect I can see how petty my complaints were, how much they don’t matter to me now. But partly, I wonder – if I don’t like the negativity and don’t want to remember it, why is it there at all?
Annoyance, disappointment, concern, and anger are all shared components of the human experience. I know they’ll be a regular part of my life, just like they are for you and everyone else. I’m not talking about that kind of negativity. What I don’t want is to let them be what I saw them being in my app’s notes – bits of toxin that fester, poisoning my inner world. That’s what happens when I try to pretend they aren’t there, when I choose the (for me) easy choice of (sort of) “letting it go” to being graciously and courageously honest. They turn from minor annoyance to bitter and passive aggressive. Can I, for example, be annoyed when someone I love doesn’t follow through on their commitments? Yes! But do I want to nurse that annoyance in such a way that I let it almost unconsciously rob me and the other person of part of the joy of that relationship? No. A resounding no!
I’ve gotten pretty good at extending grace to the greater World Around Me, the people I’ve never met who momentarily frustrate or inconvenience me. Now I need to get better at extending grace to the specific bits of world with which I’m directly and meaningfully in contact – not just the driver who cuts me off in traffic but also the husband who sometimes could hurt my feelings or the 8-year-old who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. And others, too, but they’re the two who most recently experienced my lack of grace and who I’d like to scoop back up into New Year’s Eve and get a do-over.
I’m toasting 2013 – here’s to abundant grace, honest grace, transforming grace, and – most importantly – growing grace.