true life: i'm addicted to lists.
This is the longest stretch of time I’ve taken without writing since I launched Airman and Me and here’s why.
Aside from a recent job change, navigating a new routine for said job change, finally getting Derek’s latest Air Force departure date, and the preparation all that takes, I quit to-do lists.
Cue: Gasps from anyone who knows me personally. (Which is the response I received when I admitted this aloud at a recent Bible study, which in the moment, felt more like an AA meeting.)
Now, I don’t want to place all the blame on my addiction for to-do lists, nor do I want to give my to-do lists all the credit for my blog content. But I was so accustomed to this kind of order in my life, that I became reliant. And while I may have snuck in a few blog posts at the beginning of this rehabilitation stage, my consistency and eagerness to sit down and crunch out some words paled in comparison to the blame game I was escaping to play with busyness.
I’m too busy to write. This or that is more important than my blog right now. As soon as I’m not busy, I will, I promise. Agghhh. (The list goes on and on.)
The problem with all of this is that I referred to myself as reliant. My to-do lists ended up bossing me around. They kept my mind unsharpened – I forgot to do everything and anything that wasn’t on it, they blocked all “interruptions” or “surprises” from getting in my way (even the good kind), and called me a failure every time I passed by trying not to notice the items that remained unchecked. On the flip side, my to-do lists called me capable and freed me from stress whenever I completed the day’s listed tasks. I could go to sleep knowing it was a good day if I finished, and would sleep restlessly if I didn’t.
How could I give so much power and control to something as inanimate as a pretty stack of papers glued together from Marshall’s?
I hated having blogging on my list of to-do’s because it quickly became a chore and less so a joy, since it was surrounded with all the erand-y, chore-like, responsibilities.
So, I stopped listing cold turkey. God showed me that if I’m reliant on Him: He will remind me of the things that need to get done, what can wait until tomorrow, what interruptions to allow for - to either help someone in need, or to receive some much-needed learning in the slowing down.
After a few weeks of proving to my lists that I no longer needed them like an ex who mistreated me, God then showed me that leaving things up to spontaneity and memory wasn’t going to cover everything on my plate either.
We were created for responsibility just as much as we were created to enjoy life and the gifts we’re given.
After talking it out with God, He reminded me that I was uniquely made with these quirks and that my need for lists, organization, and planning were a gift. They weren’t meant to be a thorn in my side and definitely not an addiction, but in fact a tool to keep me on track and to sometimes even help those who are less than orderly. But He told me to never let it get out of control ever again.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever allowed for your gifts to be misused? I think that’s a tactic of the enemy, to manipulate what God gifts us as a tool, to instead keep us from the very things God is trying to flourish in our lives.
My planning and preparing skills are a gift. My writing is a gift, an in-progress gift, but a gift nonetheless. And my time is gift. But I need the Gift-Giver to help me properly cultivate them.
I’m still learning balance as a recovering addict and I am fully reliant on God to walk me through the “How-To Balance” Manual.
So far, here’s what I’ve got:
Pray before writing out your to-do lists. Give it to God and allow Him to determine what to include on it, and what to leave off.
Pray for direction and listen closely. Without the discernment and direction of the Holy Spirit, we might never stop to allow ourselves to see the world as Jesus sees it, or to help those in need.
Be flexible and slow down. You can’t stop to smell those gorgeous roses when you’re running around at 100 miles an hour with your hair on fire.
Don’t let what you can/can’t accomplish define you. You are very much an unconditionally loved child of God, and no amount of accomplishments or lack thereof can ever change that.
Recognize that busyness is a symptom of out of whack priorities and not the cause. Making time over finding time, always, or you’ll never “find it”.
Add margin and rest to your list of to-dos’. You can’t do anything to best of your ability without first taking care of yourself.
Be a human being not a human doing. (I stole this one from My Own Worst Enemy by Janet Davis.) Be more present and appreciate the gift of people and time by fully being in every moment.
Maybe you’re not a full-fledged to-do list addict, but you might have recognized yourself a bit here. If so, comment below!
Look at that, I created a list about balancing addictions to lists…oh the irony.