Monday, February 28, 2011

Love and Lists

I'm a list making gal. I thrive on organization (especially if I'm the one doing the organizing). When there is a schedule to be made, a budget to be drawn up, an organizational chart to be thought out--then I'm in my element. I feel most secure monetarily the few weeks after my husband and I have revisited the budget (even if revisiting means tightening up considerably). I feel most "pulled together" after making a new schedule and sticking with it for a few days.

While this characteristic of mine has been quite helpful over the years, it has proved to be a hindrance as well. If there is a problem my knee-jerk reaction is to make out a 10 step solution to fix it. This works GREAT when the problem is a disorganized home, schedule or budget. It isn't so great when it comes to relationships--especially my relationship with God.

My tendency, spiritually, is to turn everything into a list. I'm having trouble forgiving somebody? Here's a 7 step solution for getting past that. I'm not memorizing scripture? Here's selected passage, complete with schedule and projected date of finish. I don't pray enough? Here's a framed list on the kitchen wall of some Bible prayers. Need a closer relationship with God? Here's a 10 step solution to a closer relationship.

Now, don't get me wrong, not all lists are bad. Certainly not!! Prayer lists, for example, are very encouraging and very Biblical!! God wants us to record, in literal pen-to-paper form, His mighty works in our lives and prayer lists are perfect for that. The problem isn't with the lists, the problem is the heart attitude behind the list.

When I make a list for a spiritual purpose, my tendency is to make a list with my own abilities in mind. Then, in my own strength, I march right down the list, often neglecting to consult God in either the making or the accomplishing of said items. This is not good in general, but is particularly bad when the whole point of the list is to bring me closer to the One I'm not bothering to consult.

A prime example of this is the 1000 gift project I've started. I can see that the 1000 gift project speaks directly to a need in my life. This is something God has given me to do, and I'm not planning on stopping when I reach 1000. I need to be observing God's works in my life, big and little (especially the little) and I need to be writing those things down so I remember them.

The problem in this case isn't that I'm making a list, but that I put the list on a schedule. I said I was going to write 10 of these gifts down each day. That shouldn't be hard, right? God gives us oodles of gifts each day. But I don't want to just write down things to make my scheduled list goal, if I didn't truly see them and appreciated the love of the One who gave me the gift. That isn't developing a relationship with God, that's proving that Sophie's Schedules Work. I don't need to prove they work--I need a closer relationship with my Savior.

Right now I'm finding that my "grateful eyes" are so weak that I'm only noticing, really noticing, 2-4 gifts a day. But those gifts are special, lovely, beautiful moments with my Savior--full of meaning and grace. Down the road, as I exercise my grateful eyes and they become stronger and clearer, I hope God will give me the grace to truly appreciate more than a couple of His grace-Gifts each day. But even if I don't start seeing more than I am now, I'm still seeing way more of His gifts than I did before I started purposefully looking for them. And that is a good place to be.

21. Spirituals plucked on harp strings
22. Wild Child windblown hair
23. A soft comfy chair in a coffee shop
24. 50's love songs, sung personally
25. two doves, cuddled on a tree branch
26. beautiful fresh rain
27. found keys
28. walking along a duck pond
29. Cat-sized water rats (the REAL ROUSs)
30. Heart-to-heart sharing with a new sister

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