Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughtful About . . . Progress

How do you measure your progress? It depends a lot on the project, obviously, on the type of work. But it's something I think we all do. Who doesn't end their day with the thought of, "What did I get done today?"

My husband has a job that can be measured in monetary gains. He can look over the loads he got in and dispatched through his logistics company and say, "I made X amount today, and I'll take home Y myself." Sometimes I wish writing did that. I wish I knew what my day's work earned me.

But then, on other days he says he wishes he had MY count. That at the end of the day, he could see pages added, chapters finished. The bookmark move.

Yesterday, I felt like I got a lot done. I wrote 1600 words in my new book, and I edited and rewrote 7200 in Stray Drop. I could see what I'd done. I had the sore neck to prove I'd been working hard. Then my son woke up super-cranky, and all my sense of accomplishment flew out the window as I struggled to find something to keep him from screaming.

Isn't that life to a T sometimes? We want ways to measure our progress in everything. In our relationships, in our jobs, in our faith. We want to be able to say, "Well, last week I prayed for a total of four hours, and God answered this prayer with a yes and that one with a no. This week, if I pray for five hours, maybe he'll grant me this."

Doesn't work that way. I think we all know that. We can work at everything, at building our families and our faith, and we can feel like we're really getting somewhere. Then someone screams at us, lashes out for a reason we can't discern, and that good feeling vanishes. Evaporates. Poof.

Feelings are such transient things, but they're sometimes all we have to go on. And even when we try to separate ourselves from them by using numbers--like when we want to enumerate our accomplishments--that leads to either pride or disappointment. Yes, it's the way God made us.

But he also made us to rely on him. I still need to work at giving him every moment. Those moments when my chest surges at seeing all I've gotten done, and the ones where it feels like my world's caving in with each reverberating scream of a teething toddler. My Lord is in control, when I think I am and when I know I'm not.

That's something I can always feel good about.


  1. I think I'll be repeating the last line of this post for the rest of my life. So, so true.

  2. When I got the email that you'd posted a comment, I had to go back to the blog to see what my oh-so-inspiring last line was, lol.