(NOTE: THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF YESTERDAY’S POST.)
About five years ago while cleaning out a closet, I ran across an old box of papers, one that had somehow gotten shoved aside in our previous move. Included among its receipts and letters and mementoes was a stack of old calendars. Like my mother, I had often recorded my resolutions on their final pages. Delighting in my find, I sat down to take a look at what I had written in years past. Starting with the calendar from my first full year of marriage, 1989, I read the list of resolutions I had made:
1. Keep house clean.
2. Lose weight.
3. Do Bible study daily.
4. Stop being late to appointments, etc.
5. Get organized.
6. Clean out all closets.
7. Exercise daily.
8. Manage time better.
and so on, up to about 20 total, almost all of which were along the same lines of getting the house clean and organized, making healthy choices, managing my time better, and deepening my spiritual walk. I put that calendar away and picked up another one, from several years and two kids later. The resolutions read:
1. Lose 20 pounds.
2. Clean the kitchen every night before going to bed.
3. Get some kind of exercise every day.
4. Clean out drawers & closets.
5. Organize house & schedule.
6. Read my Bible more.
and so on. The lists were very similar, as almost every resolution on both was about getting the house clean and organized, making healthy choices, managing my time better, and deepening my spiritual walk. With an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach, I peeked at a few other calendars, only to find that almost all of the resolutions on all of the lists were exactly the same. Finally, I put down the box, went to my office and dug from the filing cabinet a calendar from a more recent year. I won't bother to list here what I found on its last page, but I'm sure you can imagine: Each resolution had to do with getting the house clean and organized, making healthy choices, managing my time better, and deepening my spiritual walk.
Hoping this had something to do with the demands of being a wife and mother, I returned to the box of old calendars and pulled out a few from those years before I had gotten married. Heart sinking, I could see that though the specifics had changed somewhat, the overriding intentions had always been exactly the same: clean my apartment, lose weight, get in shape, manage my time, get organized, and be a better Christian. Whether age 17 or 22 or 29 or 35 or 42, I always seemed to need to get healthy, get my house clean, learn to manage my time, organize my life, and focus more fully on God.
It's hard to explain the depression that descended upon me in that moment. Faced with the evidence of a lifetime of resolutions that I’d kept making year after year, I could draw only one conclusion: Despite fierce determination and the best of intentions, I had never been able to successfully alter even one of my poorer habits nor had I managed to resolve a single one of the basic issues behind them. Even then, I realized, I was still for the most part ignoring my health and my spiritual growth, my house was a mess, and I was disorganized, unstructured, and undisciplined.
Certainly, I had made great strides in other areas of my life, things that had taken plenty of hard work and dedication to achieve. Despite my personal failures, I had succeeded in maintaining a healthy marriage and raising two great kids, and I had recently embarked on an exciting new career. But with these other basic issues of health and home weighing me down year after year, my life was harder than it needed to be, requiring way more effort on my part than it should have. I mean, it’s hard enough to have a demanding career, but harder still when your office is such a mess it takes hours to locate a single, important file. It’s hard enough to raise good kids, harder still when you can’t even keep up with the laundry or the dishes or the papers they bring home from school. It’s hard enough to have a happy marriage, harder still when your husband has to live with clutter, disorganization, frequent tardiness, and an overweight and exhausted wife. In short, though I had achieved much, I had also failed much. Each and every year, as I documented my resolutions, I had essentially been documenting my greatest failures.
What was wrong with this picture? What was wrong with me?
BE SURE TO COME BACK TOMORROW FOR THE NEXT PORTION OF THIS ESSAY.