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January 07 2013
27

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s not even one week into the brand new year, and already there are piles of clean, unfolded laundry all over the bedroom floor.

You have to wear socks in the kitchen right now because I haven’t mopped in a while, and it’s too grimy for bare feet. New and old toys are everywhere; the downstairs office is so full bins and loose papers and empty Amazon boxes that you can barely open the door.

I have a pile of books that I want to read, need to read, will be better for reading, but they remain uncracked on my nightstand. Instead, I’ve been watching episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix with my husband while the dryer rolls in the background.

*

I’ve always loved New Year’s – that celebration of past and present. The looking back, the looking forward: the year before you feeling so much like a new, college-ruled notebook, totally fresh and unruffled.

The ball drops somewhere on the other side of the country, and we kiss and cheer, and I feel suddenly buoyant with the starting over. I feel, for a moment, that it’s actually possible to be the version of myself that I want to be.

For the last several years, I’ve made long, beautiful lists of resolutions. I have been through enough work goal-setting to know how to draw up a helluva goal: Specific. Measureable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.

Generally, I write at least one for every area of my life. Goals for reading and writing. For housekeeping and for parenting. Goals for my marriage and my friendships and my body image and my wardrobe. Goals stacked upon goals stacked upon goals.

The idea is to break down the person you want to be, the life you want to live, into so many manageable, measurable steps. Not lose weight, but rather, lose 10 pounds by May. Not keep the house cleaner, but rather, mop twice a week, clean the bathrooms once a week, fold laundry immediately upon removing it from the dryer.

I write the list, and if I do it all, my fuzzy imagined self might come into focus. I might be that Mama I always imagined I would be, hanging fresh, white sheets on a clothes line. I’ll be writing in the sun, stopping to turn cartwheels barefoot with my children in the yard, while super-healthy-yet-delicious meal cooks inside.

If I put the classic books on the list, maybe I will read them this year, maybe I’ll feel smarter, more competent. Maybe I’ll stay up even later, cleaning and writing and submitting articles to magazines. I’ll look back a year from now and see that I have leapt higher, run farther, done more.

Maybe I’ll burn bright.

Maybe I’ll burn out.

The year starts over, and the perfectionist in me pounces on that moment and tries to tame the wild world. But really, who can manage that? Time gallops forward, and we hang on the best we can, and none of us is doing this thing exactly as we’d like.

And the truth about the New Year is that it doesn’t change a thing. I’m not made new by the turn of the calendar, but by Love. I’m new because of Christ, new every single moment of each broken-down old day.

*

This year, I made only a few goals. I made them because it’s in my nature to make lists. I made them because I think there’s something good and honest about rolling up your sleeves and trying to rebuild the broken habits of your life.

But they’re not very measurable. They’re not specific or really all that timely. They’re less like checkboxes, more like soft-glowing streetlights up ahead.

This year, I want to learn about prayer. I want to stop serving dinner from behind the kitchen counter, and instead start sitting around our scratched up dining room table. I’d really like to finish that knitting project I started last winter. Maybe go on a writing retreat or two.

I want to learn to ask and I want to embrace adventure, and I can’t break it into a S.M.A.R.T goal for you, but that’s okay, because in the end, life is so entirely unmeasurable.

I’ll wash my floors 15 times or 30 times or 50 times this year, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter that much, does it? No one but me really cares how many books I read, and maybe it’s in the second-chapter of a book I’ll never finish reading that a sentence will break my heart in two.

I’ll keep trying to get us around that old kitchen table, keep teaching Dane to help set the dishes and clear them away. But there will be nights where we’re doubled over the kitchen counter, eating frozen pizza, laughing wildly, and this matters too.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that each moment is its own, brand new, unmeasurable thing. Who can say what God is making with all of these botched goals, this unfolded laundry, these unread books?

I’m resting my head on that handsome man’s shoulder, and the zombies are stumbling forward on the television screen. I lose track of the minutes, the breaths, the way I fit so perfect under his arm.

Upstairs, the toys are still out and the socks are unmatched and time moves on anyway. The stars are quiet. Bright. Uncountable and unmeasurable in the new, old January sky.

 

27 comments

  1. A beautiful message, rendered with gracefulness. This is why I don’t make lists of resolutions anymore – for me, it feels like too much pressure! (If it works for you, though, more power to you :D) But I realized some time ago that if I’m made new all the time and His mercies are new every morning, well…it could be New Year’s every day if that’s what it takes. Press on, Addie!

    Reply
    • Addie

      Yes, new mercies every morning. I’d forgotten that verse. Lovely.

      Reply
  2. yes… life is incredibly unmeasurable especially when we live so much of it in our heads… where reality and imagination mingle into one time slot.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Beautifully said. Thanks Vincent.

      Reply
      • thank you Addie and thanks for inspiring me to connect reflection to feeling through your blog… i mention you in my introduction…

        bye for now, Vincent

        http://vincenzofrancesco.wordpress.com/

        p.s. there is a glitch on my page and for unknown reasons your blog no longer shows up on my blogroll list… i checked my dashboard and everything is okay there… i haven’t figured out what happened???

        Reply
  3. Love the awareness that love, not New Year’s, brings about true change. Amen and amen! Lovely, Addie.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Learning. :) Thanks Kelley.

      Reply
  4. Grace David

    The perfectionist in me relates to the perfectionist in you. This is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing your insights — you’re a great writer!

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Grace. Recovering-perfectionist-high-five. :)

      Reply
  5. This is so lovely. I make lists and resolutions every year, but I needed the reminder that we are made new by Love.

    Reply
    • Addie

      I know. I can’t give up my lists totally either. But it’s freeing to realize that God is doing something new every single moment, regardless of how I screw up the ones before it. Thanks Katie. :)

      Reply
  6. (Addie, I tried to leave this comment on your blog, but sometimes the internet tries to make me crazy and it didn’t post, but then it says it did post…yada yada. Anyway, if you get duplicate comments, sorry!)

    This is a great post. I can relate to the goal of ending up writing in the sun and the cartwheeling and the cooking. And reading your post made me realize that what I’m really after is that feeling, that contentedness in myself and my mothering and my writing and my marriage. I love the idea of the soft glowing streetlights up ahead. I love the idea of being led toward something new. It fits with my life since I’m always disappointed when the new year doesn’t miraculously clean anything. Figuratively or literally. I love that idea that even though I’m still walking down the foggy street there are beacons ahead of me that I can aim for that are light and warm. Like contentedness and peace and patience. And that the lights are given to me by someone else, I don’t have to generate them on my own. Of course I’ll still write some goals out to keep me walking toward those lights, but this was all a beautiful, insightful post.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Janice. Love how you said it here: “what I’m really after is that feeling, that contentedness in myself and my mothering and my writing and my marriage.” Yes. Me too.

      Reply
  7. Joni

    Your blog today was a gift. I have to hold it a while before I can say more. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Joni. So glad.

      Reply
  8. Such a wonderful post, especially this: “And the truth about the New Year is that it doesn’t change a thing. I’m not made new by the turn of the calendar, but by Love. I’m new because of Christ, new every single moment of each broken-down old day.” And I think you’re right: we’re looking over the things that matter, often, and focusing in on things that so don’t.

    But at least your piles of laundry are clean, you whiner ;), and you can watch _Walking Dead_ w/o having a nightmare.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Ha! Yes much of it is clean and getting more and more wrinkled all the time. :) (And so far I’ve been nightmare-free, but it’s definitely a creepy show. We’ll see how much longer I can last.) Thanks Brandee!

      Reply
  9. Yes, it’s not the turn of the page in the calendar that changes us but Love. I can relate to all you’ve said here Addie. I’m not into resolutions but I’ll take refining any day.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks Shelly.

      Reply
  10. I loved this post! Thanks so much for it! I’m a list person so I love the reminder that lists aren’t what is most important. My “goals” for the New Year are all things that are outside myself. If you’d like to check them out – http://www.susannahkellogg.blogspot.com/2013/01/outside-myself.html

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks Susannah! Loved your list!

      Reply
  11. Addie. I want to be your friend! Your story is my story. Books on the side table. Laundry running in the next room. Unmopped kitchen floor. Except hubby and I are watching BigBang Theory reruns. And time just being together is valuable. Thanks for your words today. They help me find grace. They help me recenter myself. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Katie. :) Love finding people who share my story — unmopped floors and all!

      Reply
  12. Reading this late, but it is still so worth it. Thank you, Addie, for putting good and lovely words to this great truth – it is not the resolutions that make the year, it is the love. Happy New Year, friend.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Diana. :)

      Reply
  13. Like you ripped a page from my heart.

    Reply

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