Overdue post…and epic failure

I never did get around to posting my new year’s contribution to AAWOL, and suddenly it’s Spring. Well here it is, on resolutions. The spoiler: my freezer is still full –  of mostly new things. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here we go again…

It’s that time of year again. The beginning of the year when we feel the slate is clean and fresh. When we traditionally make decisions to improve ourselves and find the resolve to implement them. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions though, I fail every time: Lose ten pounds. Get fit. Spend less. Do my daily devotions. Blah, blah, blah. After so many failures I decided to quit making promises of self-improvement a few years back. Yet this year I found myself declaring a new resolution. A resolution that, unbeknownst to me while making it, is a “SMART” goal; It is specific, measureable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound. Hence all the elements that can guarantee success are there and I can look forward to feeling satisfied instead of guilt and disappointment.

My goal, simply put, is to use up or eat all the items in my kitchen freezer. Granted, I haven’t set a time frame, but I think it’s a reasonable goal to achieve in the immediate future. But isn’t this goal a bit….pathetic? Shouldn’t I expect more of myself? Will you, dear readers of AAWOL, judge me for a silly resolution of freezer-bag proportions?

Well, this decision isn’t so vacuous as you may think. First off, to eat everything in the freezer requires me to stop adding more things to the freezer. This goes against every immigrant-vein in my body. My ancestors taught me to save, to hoard, to never throw anything usable out, ESPECIALLY uneaten food. Using up these frozen morsels is to dig into my reserves and to live by faith that the good Lord will provide. Secondly, to clean out my freezer means thinking creatively how to use each item, which also means making an inventory of what I actually have. And if I know what I have, then I am obliged not to buy more of the same item (even if it’s on sale). So in one stroke I’m being creative, organized, and frugal. I’m simplifying my life one frozen pea at a time. Thirdly, eating food at home means less eating out. I’ve already had a friend over for dinner, which helped me get rid of soup broth, beet sauce, and a pork roast. I’m exercising hospitality, eating healthily, and saving money! Not bad for a lowly goal.

I do have a confession though. My inspiration for this resolution didn’t come from a place of deep prayer. It came about when I couldn’t add more things to my freezer. My initial thought was that my freezer is too small. Then I realized – this is ridiculous, I have things in here that I haven’t touched in over a year. Something had to change. The freezer was meant to store perishable foods so that they could be later consumed, not to keep mementoes of a bygone time. And so when a practice no longer fulfills the intended purpose, then one needs to re-evaluate that practice. The question is not: how can I put more food in the freezer but why do I have so much food?! As Simon Sinek would say, leadership needs to “start with why” not with the “how” or “what.” We’ve disastrously tried to simplify Christian living into a list of what to do and what not to do when all the while God is constantly engaging in the “why” of our lives.

Why do we consume so much? Why do we need to protect ourselves? Why do we fear people who are different? Why do I do what I do? Why did I make so much beet sauce? Some “whys” will take much more than a resolution to get to an answer. And sometimes the answer is not anything more than, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Which, it turns out, is not a bad way to start 2016.

This was a contribution to Asian American Women on Leadership, a gathering of Asian American Women for leadership renewal and development.