I Love To-Do Lists! (Pray for me, St. Mary!)

To Do ListsI have a confession. Not one that needs a priest…one that needs my fellow sisters on the journey…

I LOVE my to-do list!

There, I said it! I love it. I love everything about my to-do list! I love that I use a nationally recognized organizational system with a built in priority to do list, complete with an A, B, or C classification of priority. I love that this system allows me to make multiple lists, to include work, family, and personal. I love that I can write goals for my big roles in the week, and even those can become part of my to-do list!! I love it, I tell you, I love it!

Yes, please call me Martha. She gets a bad rap, you know?

Holiday seasons are the worse for me…the preparations, especially for the children’s extra catechetical teachings, consume me. AND I LOVE IT! I love thinking of how I can create the perfect curriculums for their little minds to absorb the beauty that is Divine Love and Mercy! I love seeing how their faces light up when they “get it,” but I most of all love surfing the internet and finding the resources that will make these things happen!

The preparation for the right moments…this is the work that inspires me! I know the Lord placed this into my heart.

And I know I can drive others NUTS with this obsession for details and planning.

And the compulsion to have it PERFECT.

As we continue in the Easter season, I reflect on the Lenten journey and the Resurrection. I was at such peace this year during this time, and I know why…I put the to-do list away, and I chose the better part. Mary. St. Mary.

Here is what we know from Scripture:

“As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42)

The Lord reprimands Martha, but does not ask her to be different in her core personality. He holds Mary as an example of a choice…she has chosen the better part. He is reminding Martha to choose the better part. For that will not be taken away.

Martha, at her core, is doing what she is designed to do…and it is very hospitable. She was the sister who welcomed the Lord into the home! That’s the right thing to do!

But Jesus was beckoning Martha to be with Him. He was asking her for a moment to put away the to-do list and take part in the here and now…the relationship being formed from simple visiting of friends.

This Lenten journey, and continuing along the Easter road, I am following this advice…Be with the Lord, and prepare little. Prepare only what is required, and move forward with the better choice.

Our relationships with the Lord cannot end up on the to-do list, with an ABC priority. Listening to Him intently as He speaks to our hearts is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON EARTH. With so much distraction, we must find ways within our own vocations, to hear that voice.

I have found that I can hear this voice most when I do the following:

1. Unplug and listen to my kids. Truly listen to them. Listen to my hubby. Emails can wait. Adding to the to-do list can wait. Any app or facebook or twitter or finding the most witty thing to post – all of it can disappear. Listening to the kids is most important.

2. Avoid bringing work home. Understand that your small sacrifices during the day to get as much done as possible in your 8-10 hour work days pays dividends in the evenings when you are with your family. Being with your family is part of what the Lord is asking you to do, and He will speak to you through those experiences. But we must put things away in order to hear Him.

3. Keep a smaller to-do list. I especially used this advice during Lent. There were no BIG revelations to our children of a catechetical nature. Most of what was taught was done by listening to how they were doing with their small sacrifices and fasting. I learned so much from them, and they learned from each other. To-do list not necessary.

4. At night, devote time to quiet your mind of clutter. So many of us are tackling de-cluttering projects around the house. Sometimes the most important thing to de-clutter is all of the dialogue inside your head that keeps the to-do list alive! In the moments before peaceful sleep arrives, take several deep breaths, and utter one single name: Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Be in a moment of relationship with Jesus. Let His name be the last utterance of your day.

5. Find time each day for Scripture. My best time is about 10 minutes before everyone awakes in the morning. Offer the sacrifice of sleep as a gift to the Lord. Lately, I’ve been reading Song of Songs. It is a beautiful love poem in the Bible that teaches us how the Lord loves us. There is so much to hear from Our Lord. It is certainly sitting at His feet and developing a relationship with Him.

I am trying to keep only a daily to-do list with what needs to be done that very day. I never put Jesus on the list, because He is with me throughout the day. He ranks way higher than my “make an excel spreadsheet for the budget” item. Having a smaller to-do list helps me to always be present to Him, even when I am working on projects at work. On my ride to and from work, I am able to speak with Him, and frankly just LISTEN to Him speak – through music, through Catholic Community Radio, and through the silence.

Pray for me as I pray for you. St. John Paul II, pray for us! St. John XXIII, pray for us!

Peace of Christ to you and yours!

Mary

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