On my day off I always struggle with the To-Do List and the things I wish I could be undertaking instead. For example, I would much rather take a bike ride than pay the bills. Kayaking sounds much more fun than 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 the transition to spring/summer from the winter season.
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 summer smells of peonies and fresh cut grass; to have a leisurely lunch with a friend; to take a bike ride on the many trails around the area. 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
Be willing to ask others for help
Be content with who God created me to be
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 the last minute, I am stressed as I seek to meet the deadlines. When I let the mail pile up instead of recycling the junk mail 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 family. The outings for kayaking or bike riding are essential if I am to exercise more intentionally. When the things on my list are not in my wheelhouse, or better done with another, asking for help reduces my stress. As I accept myself for who I am, the person God created, I find that I am not criticizing myself. So, now that the list is made, what’s next?
I have been down this road before, and I 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 reviewed and prayed over as 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 I offer my heart’s desire to God, God will answer my prayers. That doesn’t mean that when I ask for riches in the form of money and possessions that God will give them to me. It does mean that when I ask for things that will bring me 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 being 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. And, when too many days go by without my morning quiet time, I discover that my effectiveness in my day to day life, and in chaplaincy, are much less effective.