By JENNY SEYLAR
On my day off, I always struggle with the To-Do List versus the things I wish I could be undertaking instead. I would much rather take a bike ride than pay the bills. Kayaking sounds much more fun that cleaning out the garage. Yet I struggle. The bills HAVE to get paid, and the garage is somewhat dangerous to navigate with all the clutter from transitioning from winter to spring.
So how do I discern what to focus on? God created us to be human be-ings, not human do-ings. That means that it is okay to just BE for a while; to sit on the deck and enjoy the rich smells of lilac and fresh cut grass; to have a leisurely lunch with a friend; to take a bike ride on the many trails around. Still, those many items on the To-Do List still need to get done, and they cannot be ignored. What I have decided to do is create a To-Be list that sits alongside the To-Do List. Here are some things on my list: Be less of a procrastinator Be more proactive Be a more focused listener Be in the moment Be intentional about exercise and healthy eating
What I realized when I looked back over the list is that if I focus on my To-Be List, then I will likely be more effective with the To-Do List. For example, when I leave the bills to last minute, I am stressed as I seek to meet the deadlines. When I let the mail pile up instead of recycling the junkmail right away, I have to sit and go through the stack and weed out the important stuff. When I get something out of the garage, I must put it away right when I am done so the clutter is minimal. As I seek to be a more focused listener, then I am likely in the moment better when I am with friends, colleagues and parishioners. The outings for kayaking or bike riding are essential if I am to exercise more intentionally. Now that the list is made, what’s next?
I have been down this road before, and have fallen short of my intentions. In order to have greater success this time, I have shared my list with a few friends so that they may hold me accountable to my desire for a more fulfilling life. This list is now also a part of my morning quiet time. I have begun the daily practice of offering my To-Be List to God so that I am not seeking to do it alone. By myself I am limited in my ability for success, but with God, ALL things are possible. “Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by God’s power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 CEB).
When we offer our heart’s desire to God, God will answer our prayers. That doesn’t mean that when we ask for riches in the form of money and possessions that God will give them to us. It does mean that when we ask for things that will bring us a fulfilling life, the Lord will provide. Jesus made the following promise in the Gospel of John: “The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10). By spending more time be-ing, I am closer to living my life to the fullest, and that includes be-ing with the Lord in prayer and quiet time. It is only when I stop and clear my mind of clutter that God can step in and guide me in my day-to-day living.
FOR FURTHER THOUGT What needs to be on YOUR To-Be List? Take some reflective time to write them down. Then, offer them to God, share them with a friend, and revisit them daily. Remember YOU are a human be-ing not a human do-ing. Be careful not to neglect the things on the To-Do List that are essential, AND work on your To-Be List as well, for that is where you will likely find the fulfilment that you seek. Thank the Lord daily for both of your lists, and then allow God to guide you toward the best life available to you. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).
PRAYER Lord of Life, thank You for Your interest in me and the life that I lead. Guide me to seek fulfillment by creating time and space to just be in Your presence, and to be without always needing to do something. You have surrounded me with so much beauty, and it would be a shame to miss out on it. I thank You for my relationship with You that permeates all areas of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
ABOUT JENNY SEYLAR
Jenny Seylar is a woman with a deep faith in Jesus Christ who serves in ministry at a United Methodist Church in Iowa. As a pastor and youth director, she is passionate about walking with youth, young adults, and women of all ages as they journey in their faith. She believes in creating authentic relationships in order to walk alongside folks wherever they are in their faith journey.
In 2017, Jenny’s husband of 28 years unexpectedly died while on a training bicycle ride. In the aftermath, Jenny and her 3 grown kids, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, have sought ways to find joy in the everyday miracles that make up this life. You can read more about Jenny Seylar and her ministry at www.lovelylane.org or her blog “Journey From Despair to Hope” at https://journeyandstrength.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/through-the-lens-of-grief/