The ‘to do’ list can wait


‘What are we going to do today?’

This summer rather than my teens and tween asking me this question, on my days off I am asking them. They seem happy to do ‘nothing’ while I like to get out and do stuff, visit stuff, go places. If I’m not doing that I like to have a plan, even if it is just in my head, of things that I want to get done, cleaned out, sorted and so on and so on. I like to get to the end of the day and have something, or several things, accomplished, have done something constructive with the time. My husband goes further, he has a list and ticks things off and, if he does something extra, he writes it on the list just so he can tick it off.

Recently I’ve had a feeling that maybe doing nothing has a place too. If I’m doing ‘nothing’ with my kids, just at home and being around for them, then that is actually something. I’m not losing out by doing that. Of course I can be with them when we’re out doing things and going places, but it doesn’t always have to be a grand thing. It can be in the ordinary.

On the flip side when I forego having coffee with someone because I have errands to run, I wonder whether those errands were more important. Maybe those errands need to shrink in the chunk of time they take. I may have the grocery shopping done, but I’ve missed out on the chance to encourage someone or be encouraged myself, or to just have fun.

I wonder.

I think all of this driven attitude stems from the time when I was a stay-at-home-Mum and felt I had to be doing something all the time to break the very false image that still surfaces at times of ‘all you do is sit around and have coffee’. I had to have something in answer to that question, ‘What have you done today?’

Actually, if there’s time to have coffee with friends, that is something. Building relationships isn’t nothing, it is the fabric of life. Our lives aren’t a list of things we have to get done. Our lives are about the relationships we make.

The first relationship that needs time is the one between us and Jesus, no other is more important. Like Mary and Martha in the Bible story, Mary chose the best thing to sit at Jesus feet and listen while Martha was distracted by all the stuff she had to do and got annoyed with her sister for what she was doing (Luke 10:38-42). I’ve been like Martha a lot. We all get caught up like that sometimes in the stuff of life, and just need to stop and remember what’s important.

After that, the things we have to do are all to do with others, whether it’s our families, our friends or those in our community. We can keep our ‘to do’ list, but not let it distract us from what really matters.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Amanda says:

    Stopping and remembering what is important is VERY IMPORTANT ! X After the events of last weekend we’ve all had a rethink, and this afternoon I was able to stop with many others and think not just those we’ve lost but what we’ve got (and gained) and how fortunate we really are xx God bless you all xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindahors says:

    Good words, Emma. I love how The Message expresses Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 – “Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” Learning the unforced rhythms of grace is life long, finding the rhythm between stillness and busy, between being and doing. It is out of our being that our doing flows. Doing is important – there’s a Martha in each one of us because there are many Martha things to do. 🙂 But they should never outweigh the Mary within us, choosing that which will not be taken from us. “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42 NLT).

    Your coffee cups are inviting. I’ve been enjoying my coffee as I ponder your thoughts and my own. Just being. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stella says:

    Thank you Emma, good to have a “reset” and remember what is just important and what is vital.

    Liked by 1 person

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