“Frog and Toad Together!” cries my three-year-old excitedly. Never mind that we have read this collection of stories about the beloved characters, Frog and Toad, until she can recite them herself. Today, however, I am reluctant to stop what I am doing to sit and read. I have a list of things a mile long that need to be done. However, I finished my current task and decided to squeeze in my daughter’s request. I began to read “The List,” a story where Toad creates a list for his day and begins to complete his tasks. When Toad unexpectedly loses his list, he falls apart and is unable to do anything until the end of the day when he remembers that the last item on his list was “Go to sleep.” Now, I love children’s literature that packs a punch for adults also, but today’s message was hitting too close to home. How attached was I to my list? Could I function without a list? My mind wandered with these questions.
My mother always had a to-do list. I always have a to-do list. Perhaps a rite of passage into motherhood involves the realization that your brain can no longer hold and remember all that it needs to, so mothers embrace The List. It demands special emphasis because this one item often becomes the all-encompassing measure of a mother’s day. Did I complete all the items on the list? Or, more realistically, did I accomplish anything on the list?
Like Toad, we can easily become so focused on our to-do list that we miss opportunities and gifts that are right in front of us.
I am ashamed to admit how often this might be the case in my own life. What is it about my tasks and my plans that makes them feel so much more important than the people and events that the Lord throws in my lap that day?
How can I both intentionally structure my day and be open to the subtle movements of the Spirit in my life? By cultivating a healthy spirit of detachment. If motherhood had a theme, it might be detachment:
– Detachment from personal needs and wants (for a season, you will not even be able to use the restroom alone).
– Detachment from my goals and wants for my children (it appears that my son will not be a child musical-prodigy).
– Detachment from worldly praise and affirmation (motherhood is often a thankless job).
Embracing detachment will look different on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes the Spirit speaks in a three-year-old’s request to read the same book again. Sometimes the Spirit interrupts your day with a car that fails to start. The key is to see these interruptions for what they are: opportunities to cultivate detachment. So, by all means, make a list for the day; just allow the Holy Spirit to serve as your editor.