I remember so clearly the moment she looked at me and said, "To-do lists are from the Devil."
That was well over 3 years ago, and I straight up thought she was crazy. Firstly, who is BOLD enough to actually say something like that across a full table to someone she hardly knows? Secondly, my multiple simultaneous prioritized to-do lists were serving me quite well, thank you so much for asking.
So, imagine my surprise this week when I realized that I couldn't recall the last time I had made a to-do list. I mean, I had never made an intentional choice to step away from the practice, so exactly HOW had this happened?
Of course, in typical fashion, I spent plenty of time lost in my own thoughts until I "figured it out."
It's such a strange and funny thing, the way God grows us...especially when compared with what we might expect that to look like. I've been on quite the journey in the last several years. It hasn't been "pretty." It's been painful, scary, challenging, uncomfortable, confusing, and at times down right miserable. I've clenched my fists as plenty of false God's have been stripped away from my heart, I've learned that the me I thought I knew so well was a lot more "who I'm supposed to be" than who I actually am, and I've been deeply broken by beasts I'll never fully understand.
But all of that
All of that mess
All of that pain
All of that ugliness
It has yielded the most beautiful fruit.
Isn't that so crazy? I stand truly amazed at the beauty that has come from all of it. I am in absolute awe of how my sovereign God redeems.
I did not make a choice to step away from busyness, control, and perfectionism and turn to being present, humble, and faithful. But I did choose to seek the Lord. I did choose to seek Godly council. I did choose to practice abiding in Him. I even chose a mantra, and repeated often to myself, "Just do the next right thing."
I chose to seek the Lord, and He showed up every single day. He came bearing new mercy for me. He came showing me an example of gentleness. He came both when I was waiting, and when I was fleeing. Sometimes He came slowly in bits that I wrestled with for months to piece together, and sometimes He came all at once as I sobbed in a ball on the floor.
I chose to seek Godly council, and I was led and reminded tenderly. His manna is only for today. He won't give you tomorrow's manna until then...If you never get any better than you are right in this minute, you are loved, you are saved, you are enough...Taste and see...It's His breath...The truth is bigger than the lies.
I chose to abide in Him, and He revealed the truth to me. He is strongest in my weakness. Every good thing in me is only by His power. Nothing is my own, but everything given to me as an undeserved gift that I may use it for His glory. In my failures, I glorify his perfection.
I chose a mantra, and I just did the next right thing. I did the next right thing when it was the very thing I most wanted not to do. When we were running late, and my daughter needed me to stop and sit with her in her sadness. When there were only 3 more math problems, and my son wanted to tickle and laugh instead. When it was easier to call for obedience, and I made room for understanding. When it was safer to shut out the pain in my marriage, and I put on my wading boots and trudged through it, holding my husband's hand when I really wanted to hide from him instead.
And somehow, all of those tiny, awkward, uncomfortable stepping stones have led me to a new place. Honestly, I'm still kind of mind blown by this place, because everything the world's been telling me for three decades says that this is not what progress looks like. But I taste how sweet it is, and I know that it is good. Forgetting, and mistaking, and running late mean forgiveness, and grace, and love and those are trades that I'd never take back.
I tried a to-do list this week, and it all came rushing together. To-do lists are not from God. He will hold us together even if I fail to do every single one of the things. If I'm serving him well, my list will never be done, so that's a dumb goal. Predetermining my priorities for any given day sets me up really well to miss whatever blessings and gifts He has for me. After all, weaving things in creates a much more beautiful tapestry for my life than crossing them off ever did, anyway.