In the day in and day out of parenting, marriage, and general life, we spend so much of our days trying to accomplish something. And, particularly in our roles as moms, we see very few tasks actually completed. More laundry is dirty by the time we get the last load put away, another meal needs to be prepared almost as soon as we finish eating (not to mention the never-ending dishes!), and – most of all – the process of raising our children to be independent, functioning adults is one that takes (at least) 18 years. It’s rare that I can feel like I actually completed something once and for all. It can be pretty easy for me to feel tired and discouraged by the vast number of things I’d like to get done… and don’t.
The other night, though, as I was brushing my teeth, I had a ridiculously minor but ridiculously encouraging thought – I floss my teeth every day now.
For years and years, I have hated flossing and rarely ever done it. I’ve regularly pushed back that nagging voice in my head reminding me I should floss… and still not done it. And, at every dentist appointment I can remember, I’ve braced myself for the scolding reminder that I really should floss… and then still not done it.
That is, until about 4 months ago, when I started flossing every day and I haven’t turned back. I’ve moved on and hardly ever think about my improved dental hygiene, but for some reason, the other night, it really struck me. I have finally made concrete progress in some area of my life that I had wanted to improve!
It’s such a minor thing (and I’m sure you’re thrilled to hear about my dental hygiene…), but it is real progress, and it got me to thinking… How much progress have I – and my family – made without my giving it a second thought? How much of my discouragement about my failure to make progress is actually my failure to notice the progress that we have made?
As I focus on the progress that I want myself, my children, and my husband to make, I often neglect to notice the progress that we all have already made.
The past few days, I’ve been thinking about the progress we’ve all made. Things like:
- Beach Girl doesn’t try to stick her fingers in outlets all day long like she used to
- Beach Baby doesn’t scream between every.single.bite. of food like she used to
- Both my girls (usually) say “please” and “thank you”
- I’ve been blogging on a regular schedule for over 6 months
- Beach Dad eats more than 3 types of vegetables now (You may laugh, but if you ate a meal with him a few years ago, you’ll know that may be the biggest progress of all these!)
Thinking about those relatively minor signs of progress, I’ve been reflecting on how huge and overwhelming each of those things used to feel. But now, they’re just not issues for us anymore. Since we’ve made the progress, I’ve hardly given them a second thought.
And that’s the problem. Because I haven’t given them a second thought, I haven’t taken the time to reflect and be grateful for the progress we have made.
This past week, as I have taken that time, I’ve felt so thankful for the ways God has worked in my heart and my family as we have each made real progress.
Don’t get me wrong – we still have plenty of things left to work on. But instead of thinking only about those things, I’ve been focusing on the things we used to need to work on and don’t anymore.
As I’ve done that, I’ve felt renewed in my motivation to persevere in the things that are still left undone. And, quite frankly, I’ve felt more able to delight in my children and husband as I’ve rejoiced over the progress we’ve made together rather than stressed over how much we have left to do.
So, especially this week, as you make a list of resolutions for the year and think about all the progress you’d like your family to make, I’d challenge you to take some time to reflect on the progress you’ve already made. Think about the things that used to seem so overwhelming and impossible, but now are non-issues. Think about the progress you, your husband, and your children have made this year.
What did you used to discipline about repeatedly, but now you hardly even mention? In what ways do you each love each other better? What used to constantly make you feel guilty but now is not an issue anymore?
And, if you’d like to share so we can rejoice over progress made together, I’d love to hear it in the comments! Happy New Year, friends!