To-Do List or To-Do Relationship?

Recently, I was reading a blog written by Linda McCullough Moore. She was sharing some words of wisdom that had been spoken to her:

She began by saying that we will all die with to-do lists. She noted that our lists seem only to grow, never to shrink. And so, her wisdom was this:

“Accept the fact that your to-do list will never be completed, and so, while you are whittling away at it, make relationships the centerpiece of your life.”

This wise woman suggested that we might trade in the frank impossibility of ever finishing a to-do list for the entirely possible endeavor of forming relationships that matter. I may not have her phrasing precisely as she spoke, but I’m quite sure of the meaning.

When it comes to our to-do lists, there is a behavior we persist in without rhyme or reason. With no evidence whatsoever that we can, or will, complete our list of tasks, nevertheless we get up every morning determined to give it just one more try. Every morning. Every day of our lives.

But what if, instead, today we got out of bed and said, “Today while I am nibbling away at my to-do list, I’m going to keep my focus centered on being with God and other people in ways that are loving and important, growing in bonds that will last for time and all eternity”?”

Dear sisters in faith, my reality today is this: apart from a miracle my one and only daughter is not long on the earth. We may have weeks…we may have many months ahead. God alone knows the time we have left to be in relationship with one another.

I’m so keenly aware of this reality that I almost don’t care a wit about anything else. But thankfully/prayerfully grace sustains and keeps my soul and spirit fixed on doing the things I need most and letting go of any and everything that would rob me of precious moments with my beloved.

What about you? Is your living being robbed of meaningful, intentional, deep relationship by the “to-do” list? Pause and ponder on this today. If your list is out of control and you find that you have drifted from keeping the main thing the main thing — STOP! Just stop! Make a decision TODAY to make the to-do of relationship as important as the to-do lists of things really need to get done. Let’s decide to whittle away at the extraneous things and focus our minds, wills and emotions on the main thing: relationship with God and relationship with one another.

“Loving God. Loving each other. And the story never ends.”

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”-Mark 12:30-31

Stephanie Paul

Stephanie serves as part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America’s Keswick as Director of Women of Character. She has been married for over 30 years to Sesky Paul who is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. They have two grown children.
Her single focus in ministry at Keswick is to image Christ in grace and truth to wounded and hurting women, encouraging them to make Jesus the truest Lover of their soul and the One in whom all hope lies.

One thought on “To-Do List or To-Do Relationship?

  1. Stphanie L. Dickinson says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    I am – at this very moment – taking the liberty to copy your beautiful writing for today. Why am I copying your words? To give – every so gingerly – to my very own mother.

    First, I would like to express my utmost sorrow at what appears to be your sharing of your daughter’s illness. I shall pray for your strength and for your daughter, as well. I am part of a tremendous healing prayer ministry at the Worship Center here in Lancaster, Pa. I will add her name to our prayer list if you would like me to do so.

    Secondly, I’ll share a bit regarding my own mother. Two years ago – upon the death of my precious father, my mother’s husband of 63 happy years – I chose to reside with my mother “for just a few months” until her grief lessened. Her grief lessened very little and here I still am, with my own family (my children are grown, but two are still at home) just minutes away but in a separate home. Mother is strong physically, but I have been concerned with her emotional well being; thus, my decision to stay with her.

    From morning until night my mother is steeped deeply into her “to do list”. Weeding the flower beds, dusting, laundry, grocery shopping, vacuuming daily, blowing dust from the front porch… get the point. My mother is 85 years old and seems to show no slowing down in tackling her to-do chores…and THAT list is for just the TWO of us living in a 3,500 square foot home — most of which never even gets used !!!

    My grandchildren (her great grandchildren) love to come over to visit their 2 Grandmas. Mom wrings her hands at the “sticky finger” possibilities on her furniture. We beg her to go to the beach house which has been in our family for years. “No way”, is her usual first response, “why, I would have to buy groceries, pack essentials, and who would clean the sandy carpet from the beach house?” You probably guessed — we have used the beautiful beach house ONE time each and every summer — for a few days, in order to keep the house CLEAN ! Incidentally, when I or other family members offer to help her, her fear is that the “to do list” might not be completed adequately!

    At the risk of seeming to speak disrespectfully of my mother, let me clarify: I love her with all of my heart. I am dedicated to watching over her well being. I honor her and respect her more than words can say. It’s just that I have been privy to witnessing how an endless list of “to do” concerns can thwart family relationships. Sticky hands can be washed. Swing sets which need to be trimmed around can be disassembled eventually. But memories of precious visits and the sound of children’s laughter cannot ever be replaced…..especially when “lists” are getting in the way of having those memories ever transpire.

    In conclusion, may I join you in suggesting that we ladies put aside our list priorities and focus on living in an atmosphere of just “enjoying the moment” with our loved ones; be them friends and/or family. The dust will always be around — the fix-it list will forever be on the refrigerator …. but children grow up and friends grow old, and in the end, it is unlikely that anybody will remember how shiny and sparkly clean our kitchen floors were !!!

    Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing so poignantly. Blessings to you and to your family and may G-d sustain you through His grace and healing hand through the days ahead.

    Stephanie L. Dickinson
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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