On Monday mornings, when we think about all the tasks we have to do in the coming week, we can feel overwhelmed. The mass of “stuff” can feel larger than the abominal snowman.
Listing those tasks can help tame that icy monster in our minds, but even then that Yeti can be frightening and crushing.
Our to-do lists can rule our lives. They either bolster our self-esteem as we check off our accomplishments, or they lambast us for not achieving what we intended. We soon become human to-do lists.
Years ago, Susan, a mentor, gave me advice about how to let my to-do list become part of my spiritual life so my list didn’t control me.
To begin with, she said to quietly pray or meditate each morning. Center yourself by asking the Creator for a word or short phrase to carry in your heart for the day.
If your mind races forward to all you have to do that day, tell yourself you and God will create your to-do list at the end of your quiet time. Let yourself simply rest with God in solitude.
As you approach the end of your meditation, Susan suggested asking the Creator this simple question: “What’s the work you’ve given me to do today?”
By asking this question, she said, “You’re praying your to-do list. You’re inviting God into the work of your hands for the day. So, take out your list, write down your tasks, and prioritize them as you and the Creator prayerfully consider what work you’ve been given for the day.”
This handy tool has become a source of comfort over the years. It stops my mind from fretting. It gives me order and direction for the day. I befriend the abominable snowman that once felt overwhelming.
Praying my to-do list also helps me be realistic. If it will be a demanding week, God nudges me to put “down-time” on my task list. He reminds me to schedule time to play, perhaps enjoying a long walk, snuggling up with a warm blanket and a good book, or doing something creative and life-giving.
Try praying your to-do list each morning this week. As you sit with the One who loves you and wants what’s best for you, ask the God of Infinite Love, “What’s the work you’ve given me to do today?” As you begin each day, let you and the Creator tame your to-do list.
—brian j plachta