Lists and Learning

We are three weeks into the New Year and I’m excited about where it’s headed. I have so many ideas and goals—some I shared in a recent post about my Mini Goals for 2019—and I’m still riding on that New Year high.

I also have bigger goals, goals that require getting from Point A to Point B. Instead of mini goals, these are life-altering long-term goals. But I hold these goals close to my chest. These long-term goals are dependent upon faith, hard work, timing and following through on a lot of my mini goals. So for now, I tackle the mini goals while keeping those long-term goals in the back of my mind.

The problem is, all these mini goals and daily and weekly to-dos were getting all jumbled in my head. When I was waking up with the baby in the middle of the night, I’d start thinking about what all I had to do the following day—everything from kids’ activities to tasks for my freelance clients to all the necessary adulting responsibilities.

Cutting myself some slack, it’s hard not to be task-oriented when caring for a family of six. Certain tasks have to be done—daily, weekly, monthly. So earlier this year, I began writing out my to-do list to free up brain space. It allowed me to let those midnight thoughts go and more easily fall back asleep after the baby woke. It allowed me to balance motherhood and wifery and community involvement and my freelancing gigs.

But it also made me like Martha, a to-do list maker and hostess of Jesus. She busied herself with all of her hosting responsibilities when Jesus came to visit. She meant well, but she was preoccupied with the finer details instead of focusing on the bigger picture. Martha is often contrast with her sister Mary, who pushed all earthly distractions aside to worship at the feet of Jesus. Mary paused, listened and learned from Jesus.

In all honestly, I am through and through a Martha, who not only “gets things done” but who is actually pretty good at wearing all the hats. And as genealogy (and matters of the heart) would also have it, I, too, am the daughter of Eve. I am easily distracted and tempted. I am focused on the wrong tree despite a garden full of God-given liberties.

John Piper cuts to the heart of the matter when he calls out those like me, queens of a harried lifestyle:

“A constant battle we face is letting the fragmentation of urgent demands distract us from the good of listening to Jesus. There is so much to do. If we believe things will change when we get on top of things, that we’ll finally have the time to listen more to Jesus after we’ve plowed through these demanding tasks hanging over our heads, we’re likely being deceived.

We tend to value the volume of things accomplished, and call that ‘productivity.’ God values the importance of things accomplished, and calls it ‘fruitfulness’ (John 15:5).” Desiring God

This thought process has effected a change in my days. It’s not that my tasks will go away or that tiny fires will be extinguished faster. For me, it’s simply a shift in perspective—a quick tilt of the chin to focus upward.

So as a result, I’ve worked to tweak that to-do list that helps me sleep at night. Instead of creating tiny little boxes to check off, I’ve turned it into a priority list.

And because I’m completely human and forgetful and easily distracted, I’ve put time in the Word at the top of that list. That doesn’t mean I accomplish that top priority first thing in the morning—after all, mom life is unrelenting—because it’s not about checking off a box and moving on.

What it does mean is that every time I look at my list throughout the day, I’m reminded of the bigger picture—of what matters most, of where my focus should be.

It reminds me that all those daily tasks don’t matter if I’m not being fruitful.

It reminds me that being fruitful will only happen if I pause, listen and learn from Jesus.

I saw this meme on social media recently and it practically had my name stamped across it. Sharing in case it speaks to you as well.