Proper Perspective For To-Do Lists4 min read

The husband calls from church, says he left his glasses on the counter, asks if I’ll bring them with me when I leave the house in two minutes to head to the Sunday service. Two minutes later – okay, five – I walk out of the house, the glasses still sitting on the counter.

Sometimes I’d swear I’ve got a sieve in my head.

That’s why there are lists all over the house.

You’ve got your grocery lists. And your to-do lists. Lists of gift ideas. Lists of books to read.  There’s the list of Things to Do over Summer Vacation still posted on the fridge at Christmas, and the Meal Ideas list that is perpetually blank.

The tricky part of having so many lists is keeping track of them. They are surprisingly adept at playing hide and seek, giggling their papery giggles as I search through the Dr. Seussian piles on the kitchen table, desperate to write down my latest thought in the fifteen seconds before it climbs out of my brain and flies off into the sunshine.

More often than not I can’t find the correct list or forget I’ve started one in the first place. Which means that, in addition to the lists, there are also random scraps of paper strewn about, covered in scribbled ideas and reminders. Later I’ll find them and frown at the scrawled handwriting, trying to decipher their mysterious and important-sounding messages.

The amazing thing to me is that, despite the holes in my brain and the piles on my counters and the scattered bits of paper taunting me with the things I’m supposed to remember but don’t, somehow the things that are really important get done.

The family gets fed. The kids make it to school, almost always on time. We say our I Love Yous and our I’m Sorrys and our I Forgive Yous. No, I don’t always get the cheese and sausage fundraising form turned in. But the sieve does manage to catch the big pieces.

If it’s really important, it gets done.

– – – – –

There’s a Katie Conference for pastors’ wives and widows coming up, the magnet on my refrigerator reminds me. I should go to that. It would be good for me. I’d better remember to register. I’ll add it to my to-do list.

But the stuff on my table and the stuff of life is going to get in the way. I’m going to forget. Forgetting is easier than doing. It’ll be just another should-have-done, slipping away into the past with a million other little regrets that blink for a while and then go dark.

Unless I decide that it’s one of the important things.

– – – – –

The other day I was merrily buzzing along, getting lots of things done, having a productive evening. And then my eldest son came lurching into the kitchen, his eyes wide. “Mom. I just remembered that I have jazz band practice tonight. And I’m supposed to be there in ten minutes. And Mr. Wilbert wants me to bring my drum set. And it’s really, really important.”

A sigh and a head shake later, I was hauling drums out to the van and dashing off into the night, my productivity a fading memory. My child needed me, so I went.

Sometimes you just have to drop everything and do what really matters.

– – – – –

What is it that really matters? What gets caught in your sieve? What, of the hundreds of things on your mental lists, is going to absolutely positively and for sure get accomplished?

Maybe it’s getting your kid to band practice. Maybe it’s taking twenty minutes to listen to a friend who is hurting. Maybe it’s that Friday night date to the local pizza joint you’ve been talking about for so long. And maybe it’s plucking the magnet off of your fridge, looking up a website, and committing to spend some time among sisters who will be encouraged by your presence, even if you never say a word.

Whatever you do, whatever are the Definite Get Dones on your lists, whatever you fail and fear and forget to do, there is one thing you can absolutely positively and for certain know: your name is on a list. One that will never get lost in a shuffle.

Our Heavenly Father dropped everything to scoop us up and make us His. He gave us His child that we might be His children, His Most Important Thing. He feeds us, teaches us, whispers words of forgiveness every moment of every day. Of all of the millions of things God might choose to do, loving us is the one thing He will never not get done.

In the eyes of your maker, you are what matters.

Write it down. It’s worth remembering.

Registration is open for The Katie, a conference for pastors’ wives and widows, as well as vicars’ and deacons’ wives. The conference will take place April 22-24, 2016 in Bay City, Mich. For more information and to register, click here.

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About the Author

Julie J. Riddle is full of flaws but loved anyway, by her Creator and by her pastor-husband Derek. They live (with their three boisterous children and an assortment of animals) in lovely Rogers City, up at the tip of the pointer finger in northern southern Michigan, where Derek serves as shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church. Julie works as a school secretary and occasionally gets feisty about the importance of community theater, teenagers, and living 1:1.

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