Make your life perfect in 2020
or they say in a thousand little iterations this time of year. I am home and online enough to read their variety. Why not jump on the bandwagon?
Join a reading challenge.
Make a book list.
Exercise goals. Career goals. Family goals. Bucket list goals. Organization goals.
How many are tempted to set these goals, savor the positive vibrations that come from setting them, only to never follow through because that first wave of good feeling was enough? We go through the of the year, much as we have done before.
Being in my last month of pregnancy and quite overrun with a cold virus at the time of the writing, I imagine a simpler path ahead.
When I last took the temperatures of my children, I recalled a fancy thermometer we purchased, the box of which promptly discarded. We never felt confident about where exactly it ought to be pointed for an accurate reading. So we never use it. Why do we keep it, I wonder?
Laying in bed, with my tea, magazines and stack of books beside me, I look round my room. We became farmhouse residents in March, unpacked our things, marveled at the sheer quantity of cabinets, and moved on with our lives. Some cupboards are orderly, some less so, some still have construction materials from the good people who lived here before us, some have make-shift cabinet liners hiding whatever unsightly things those good people spilled in that particular cabinet.
What do you see when you open your cabinets?
A goal met, a project procrastinated, abundance or want?
I could go through each room and pause at a given place (my closet, the hall cabinet, the children’s toy storage) and ask myself,
“Who does this space serve?”
There is a particular way I would organize that child’s room if I did not have to consider the child. But the room is not for me. The wonders of the Instagram pantry spaces lie untapped in our cupboards, because it is a shared space and a space that must serve a large family.
The house, like my life, is shared. Not every ambition will be for my sake. They will, like this house, be shared, so that we work together, play together, and grow together not as autonomous individuals but interdependent members in this little school of love.
Next, I ask:
“What purpose does this place serve?”
A closet could be simply for storing clothing. Or as my 9-year-old would have it, a place of wonder, to hide and recharge when her introverted self is over-whelmed.
The cabinet in the laundry room could be a medicine cabinet or it could be an apothecary’s paradise showing my expertise and prowess in managing colds.
This shelf by the back door with tumbling down candles could be a display at Pottery Barn rather than a bargain bin.
I take inventory:
“What is necessary here?”
In knowing who this is for and what this is for, I can narrow down what is essential.
“What is unnecessary here?”
And then I can identify those items that are superfluous, that weigh us down, clutter us up, and confuse the tasks we must complete each night before bedtime.
These four questions will work for my cupboard, yes, and beyond. I consider relationships that have evolved over time, projects and hobbies I have undertaken, ministries or causes I have committed myself too. It is easy to become overtaxed in a world that demands us to move in so many directions. I begin to lose sight even of the place of my life within the bigger world.
When we focus in on one place, letting the endless spaces beyond quiet themselves for just a moment, we find our world a little brighter, a little better, and a little more focused.
This is the space where we live.