Catholics are used to being accountable. As a young child, I weekly stood in line for the confessional, where I told the priest my litany of minor sins (I disobeyed my parents; I fought with my sisters). Poor bored Father! The other day I saw a picture on Facebook of a sign from a church confessional booth in Ireland, stating that there was “only one priest for one hour of confession today, so please confess sins quickly and concisely, and don’t go into why you did it.” Yep! Accountability + brevity = win for all.
I am used to being accountable in certain areas of my life. Raising responsible, decent kids? Keeping our house tidy (or, at least, keeping it from falling down)? Checking off my various tasks as spiritual formation director? I can do all of that! But it gets muddy when I have no clear goals. I want to be a writer. OK, great! Soooo…write! And then, what? Sell my writing!! But if I do not hold myself accountable, I do not write—or, if I write, I do not submit.
I have just discovered something amazing called the “Self Journal." It is an attractive and compact book where you fill in your goals for a 13 week period. Each goal is then broken down into weekly, daily, then hourly, nuggets. It is surprisingly difficult to deconstruct my lofty ambitions—which is probably why they have remained unrealized. If on Day #1 I hope to identify ten publications accepting submissions, there is the yawning space to fill with these publications! The perfectionist buried deep within the slob in me abhors a vacuum, so I feel compelled to investigate and notate submittable places. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow I vow to actually submit to these online opportunities. The procrastinator in me has excuses at the ready: hey, it’s Monday! I have other stuff to do! I need to…dust the bric-a-brac! But I am driven to fill in the blanks, at least for today.
|I know, I know, "Poets and Writers"! I should send out my work!|
So, as I begin my much-loved annual time at the Delaware shore, may I hold myself accountable. Like the little girl kneeling in the confessional booth, may I own my mistakes and missteps. But then, may I go further. May I also own my successes, my “wins.” After all, both columns appear on the tote sheet of life. I think that may be what the Catholic confessional of my childhood lacked. I believe, with all my heart, that God celebrates our wins, to the point where our losses are both forgiven and forgotten.
Tomorrow I mark Day #2 of my Self Journal. Much as I’d love to erase the unrealistic and grandiose ambitions of Day #1, I have written them in indelible ink. I will leave them as written. And maybe, by Day #52, or Day #102, I will make some progress towards my goals. And if not, I hope I enjoy the journey anyway.
I may not be an accountant, but it seems to me those numbers add up just fine.