To-do lists are easy for me to come up with. Last night I dumped my brain onto paper and listed out a good seven or eight things I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming week. I vaguely acknowledged that there are always (at least) seven or eight things for me to hit no matter how many balls I’ve swung at the day before, and yet I still plowed ahead, creating targets to hit. I do expect my in-box to be full when I am gathered up at the end of my days.
An interesting thought, however, came to me as I was waiting for the ball in my head to stop spinning. What about a “to be” list?
It’s not as easy. After all, I can muscle up and tackle a “to do” list. I can’t, however, “be the change I wish to see in the world”. I can’t just decide to be happier, or more thoughtful, or to walk closer to the Lord. Part of me applauds those that can; the other part is skeptical, envisioning white washed tombs.
I carefully wrote, more like sketched, the words. Shalom. Dwell with God. Kindness.
The grammarian in me balked. Those are not “to be” verbs! The tender me shushed her.
Does it matter if my doing is done without thought to my being? If I must sacrifice my spirit on the alter of the urgent or even the perfect project d’jour, what meaning has my life ultimately than in hurrying by the minutes and leaving only that which will ultimately burn? Furthermore, what harm is left by my dust? What child perturbed my busy self and worse, knew it? What tiredness did I miss in my husband and neglect even a glass of water? What soft whisper or nudging of the Lord did I put aside for the nebulous “later”? To whom did I miss sharing an edifying word? But sweeping bold checks on that list (done…done…done….)….they bring me a sense of fullness and satisfaction.
What if, however, the check marks meant….ignored a problem (check), missed giving a hug (check), said an unkind word (check)…?
My to do list is important to me. It helps me to plan, to see progress, to create and cultivate and close in on things that are not just purposeful, but pleasant.
But what would it be like if I gave more thought to the “to be” list? And, knowing that only God can work those things out within me, how might my greater dependence upon the Lord during the day look like while I am working out those other things I need to do? Would I pray more? Dwell more closely with Him? Have more peace? Would the law of kindness find a welcome home on my tongue with which to reside?
Maybe, I’d actually accomplish more. But, more importantly, maybe God would too.