Relinquishing Control & Forgetting To-Do Lists

From the archives. This was originally penned in April 2014, while living in D.C.
How many of us have to-do lists (written or mental)? Probably almost everyone, right? I have countless lists, some even duplicating to-do’s from other lists. Most of them are pretty basic: pick up dry cleaning (it’s been a month), invite the Jones over for dinner soon, reply to that email already, etc., etc. Others are similar to a bucket list or consist of a running check of smaller goals or ideas I come up with and don’t want to forget about. Oh, and yes, I have been known to make a not-to-do list!

My lists are endless and exhausting and overwhelming and always leave me feeling like no matter how many boxes I check, I’m never enough — in some way I always fall short.

I will be the first to admit — lists have become a staple in my life, something I reflect upon often, cling to during hectic seasons, and even post around my desk or at home.  To me, they are a beacon of stability, a compass in the midst of utter chaos that is my life.

But I am learning that my to-do lists (and not-to-do lists) are idols in my life. A perennial box I incessantly obsess at having to check. In fact, a kill joy.

For as long as I can remember, I have always gotten so wrapped up in that next step that I completely forget about being super intentional about living in the now — causing me to miss out on some really great moments — which later leads to regret and other negative feelings.

Despite being all together broken people — our culture has made us this way. Living in DC alone has exacerbated the unhealthy characteristic that constantly consumes me. This broken city exists because of the millions of people who are obsessed by to-do lists and box-checking and goals they set for themselves in order to get ahead and/or “make the world a better place.”

I’ll admit, living in DC and working on Capitol Hill was on my to-do list. And thank God it was, because if not, I may never have met my adoring husband or 90% of the good friends I’m blessed to have in my life. My community, not to mention husband, have changed me for the better. They challenge me to live above Washington’s standards and hold me accountable at setting my sights on things above and not of this world.

They help me see the problem with obsessing over plans and lists and they far too easily become like weeds in my life. That’s no easy feat. Because we feel that if we can only just do more stuff, or strive harder, then we will gain control of our lives. That’s not the case. God lives within us and when we put other things (weeds) above God — either knowingly or unknowingly — we crowd him out of our garden (hearts). We have to remember that He is the ultimate gardener and view his plan for our life more as a one-way street, rather than as optional.

God promises us that the peace and love he gives us freely far outweighs the trials we experience and the plan He has for our lives is without fail the most awesome thing imaginable for us. It’s without fail, Plan A.

God, being the all-knowing, omnipotent, sovereign King that his is — knew we would fall short and desire to plan out our own lives, so what did he do? He created our days to be segmented to only 24 hours long, assured us that in this world we would have trouble, and we would fall short of his glory, but to take heart, have faith, take it one day at a time, and trust him with the rest. Boom.

As humans, we are subject to the limitations of time. But it is when we rely solely on our Creator to direct our steps that we really become more Christ-like and take on the most amazing plan he has created for us.

Praise the Lord for he is the ultimate planner over our lives. All we need to do is trust.


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