my resolution: putting my pen away

the last day is quiet; hot oolong tea, sleeping baby,
borrowed dog lounging close.
there are plans for midnight, complete with bubbly drinks
and hors d’oeuvres and loud countdowns
topped off with well wishes and kisses.

but for now, all is quiet… and the last hours of this past year
slip away in retrospective solitude.

Here I sit, sipping my tea, wondering what I want for my future.

it is so easy to spend these last moments
with wishes birthed from unrealistic expectations:
I’ll be a better this, I’ll be a better that…
I’ll weigh less, exercise more…
I’ll organize my house, redo a room…
I’ll juggle all the roles of daughter, wife, mom, teacher, tutor
(Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)
So much better…
So much better in this next set of 365 days.

and thinking about all the energy that will take…
To be better (to be perfect)?
It makes me tired.

and then I realize that I doom myself–
placing the value of year on whether or not I can be
a bionic version of myself: “Better! Faster!”
and I’m making a mistake by thinking that cleaning a drawer
or losing a pound will make this next year
better than the past.

success is always easier to evaluate with numbers, you see.
numbers can tell you whether you won or lost–
passed or failed.

i have realized something in these few minutes of oolong and a sleeping girl
And jotting down rambling thoughts in silence.

i wonder, at the end of each year, if I’m a success or a failure.
and I always come out as a failure to me.
my flaws still exit: I still have many pounds to lose.
I still hate grading.
my junk drawer still mocks me from the center spot of my dresser.

always a teacher, I get out a red pen and mark up my life for improvement.

well, I now know what my resolution will be this year.

I’m putting my pen away.
I’m changing my rubric.

Instead of analyzing my life as a quantitative assignment,
Where I measure my success or failure with numbers and red slashes…
I’m giving myself an abstract evaluation.

This time next year, if I find myself with sipping tea and quiet moments,
I want to judge the success of my year by its quality:
Was there more love here?
More joy here?
More peace here?
More goodness here?
More long suffering here?
Not just in my house, but in my soul?

even as I type those thoughts, I think to myself,
“What if there isn’t? what if… I haven’t gotten better at any of those things?”
I’ll still be tempted to grab that pen and bleed judgmental ink
All over myself.

But here’s what I’m hoping.
Here’s my resolution.
If that happens… If I raise the pen over the year,
I pray that God will have grown me enough
To slowly set it down and leave the year–
Leave myself–
Untouched by my own markings.

Because even if there is nothing else in that year–
No more love, no more joy, no more peace–
There will definitely be more of one thing:
Grace.

because God, He does grace. Not me.

And if I look back at next year
And all I can see is more grace… more God…

I’ll be good with that.

The silence just broke–my daughter just awoke–
And I sip the last of my tea.

Yes, I will be good with that.


1 thought on “my resolution: putting my pen away”

  • 1
    Lisa Burden on February 1, 2014

    Thanks for this, Stephanie.

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