Tasks and Priorities

Church is a contemplative time for me. I do my best to listen to the lessons and talks, but my mind often wanders about doing the mental equivalent of picking up clutter and putting it away. Today I spent most of church sitting with my planner open in my lap. As my mind tidied up, I wrote notes and my to do lists for this week got ever longer. When I noticed this phenomenon, I was temped to snap my planner shut. In the end I realized that it was better to have the to dos pinned neatly to a page than to have them floating loose in my brain as clutter.

The topic for Sunday School was living a life of faith in Christ. The topic led one recently divorce mother to ask for advice as to how to devote her life to Christ when her days are full of laundry, carpooling, and making kids practice the violin. Her question zipped into the middle of my newly tidy mind and bounced around. It is a very good question, one I have had to resolve for myself on multiple occasions. How does my life, as I am currently living it, fit with what I believe about eternity? This question remains the same no matter how many times I ask it of myself, but my answers change as my life shifts.

At the moment my life is a combination of mundane tasks and frightening challenges. It is easier to see where the challenges fit into the larger picture of my life. I am learning new things, growing in ways that are sometimes painful. Since the challenges are frightening, I seek more for divine guidance to make sure that my steps are headed the right direction. The challenges are daunting, but it is very clear to me that they are important. The mundane tasks are different. They simply exist and often oppress me. This is when the question comes in handy, because it forces me to look closely at my mundane things. I have to look for connections and hidden eternal purposes. All of the cooking, homework help, and carpooling I do for my kids is truly aimed at helping them grow. Nothing could be more eternally important than that. The cleaning I do provides order and space for happiness to reside. Some of my most mundane chores have vital eternal purposes if I just take the time to look for them. When I am aware of those connections and purposes, then my daily tasks can become acts of devotion and love.

Of course the actual practice of this theory is somewhat more difficult. My brain never seems to be able to hold it for very long, which is why I have to re-ask the question and discover it all again. Then I go back to the lists that I carefully compiled during church and I shift things around. Now the task order more closely represents what is important in my life right now. If I can just keep that up, then my life will be just what it should be.