Moving Beyond Your To-Do List

Categories :Motherhood
Remember how I likened motherhood to being dropped into the deep sea and told to swim to shore?  {Motherhood is also like winning the lottery, vacationing in Italy, having cupcakes for breakfast kind-of-wonderful.  But I am sharing the hard parts now.}  Let me explain a little secret I discovered in the midst of the hard adjustments.

Check?  Check.
In the other classrooms or chapters of my life, organization and preparedness ruled.  Taking good notes and finishing the reading counted.  Checklists and to-do lists were a girl’s best friend throughout school, work, and even marriage and home life.

Finish reading Macbeth. Check.

Lead girls’ Bible Study.  Check.
Prepare proposal for a new engineering project.  Check.
Buy Birthday gift for hubby.  Check.
Menu plan and grocery shop for the week.  Check.

But some things in life aren’t meant to be easily checked off.  Like motherhood. Some are meant to dirty up our knees.  

Goodbye, Checklist
One day after our daughter was several months old, I remember feeling the panicky feeling of I can’t get anything done!  I even submitted my to-do list to my husband to show him how long it was.  It had 50 items on it.  I felt so overwhelmed.  I had been trying and trying to make traction on my list, but it seemed that Baby was stealing all of the hours in the day.  (which she was in many ways, rightfully :)

The next morning, I woke up and basically threw in the towel.  I remember deciding to abandon my list.  To forget about all the pressure to get things done, and to enjoy the day.  To enjoy my little girl!  To enjoy myself, my God, and my life.  

I immediately felt free.  I went from banging my head against the wall in frustration to laughing and dancing inside.  

But What About…?
Some may ask, that sounds nice, and all, but when did you get your work done? That was the miracle.  On that day, the day I surrendered my list and my stress to my Maker, I noticed that as I was still and peaceful, I heard a small Voice begin to guide me.  

Wouldn’t now be a great time to mop the floor?  She’s taking a nap, I heard.  

So I did.  I’ve never taken such joy in clean floors!  

Then, Do you want to organize her outgrown clothes in bins for the attic?  

Yes, what a good idea.  

Somehow these suggestions didn’t stress me out when they came from The Voice inside, as they did when I saw them on my list.  And would you believe I accomplished more in that one day by just listening and following His Voice than I did in the months before?  

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21)

If you know Christ as your Savior, His Spirit lives inside you.  He will guide you, speak to you, and show you the way you should go.  Even down to the small things.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  (John 10:27)

Law vs. Grace
Sometimes we believers put too much pressure on ourselves in everyday life.  We still live in the mindset that we have to live up to the Law, that we have to do everything right.  In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the law with many commands to obey, not because they could humanly keep them all (none of us can keep even the 10 Commandments perfectly), but so that we would see that we fall short.  And be ready to reach out for a Savior, Jesus, when He came.

We often think that we must do all the right things, whether that is keep a perfect house or give the perfect presentation, be the ideal wife and mom and never mess up.  We may put pressure on ourselves to read the Word everyday, never let anyone down, or speak harshly. Well, that is why Jesus came.  None of us can live up to our own expectations, let alone God’s.  We need Him!  We need His power and grace, and this comes through His salvation and the gift of His Holy Spirit.  

When we have His Spirit inside of us, we can lay down our long checklists and begin to rely on Him to lead us, to guide us by His Voice.  We will accomplish many things, but they will be the things He had in mind.  And the beautiful part is we will be free to enjoy the day!

Ahhh…surrender.  This Mom recommends it.

Related posts: What Is This Moment For?


Erik and Sarah

June 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Wonderful words of truth! Thank you for sharing what you've been learning, K. What a happy little girl you have there, playing so freely and enjoying life so fully. Love from our family to yours. Sarah


June 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Amen!!! Love this. You are truly my heart-friend for I needed this reminder of how grace frees me from my to-do lists.