One Book to Rule Them All

I’m a list sort of person.

I maintain a bullet-journal that I fondly refer to as my One Book to Rule Them All. Within its pages is a running list of stuff that needs attention, and these are triaged accordingly. If there’s a little bullet point next to an item it’s normal priority. Little arrows to the left symbolize the item needs to be placed on a long-term calendar. A star next to the listed item suggests urgency.

Crossing stuff off my list makes me giddy.

I conducted an experiment in which I put the book away for a few days. Y’all need to understand that this is pretty big for me. Even my days off from work I have stuff planned – knitting projects with due dates, seeds that need to be planted, and movies I’ve wanted to see.

The result was not the relaxation I had anticipated. Instead, I discovered a persistent need to mentally re-invent my list… re-creating my list in my head. At one point I remembered something that I was certain had not made the journal, and I found a piece of paper and jotted it down. 

Right. I created a baby-list.

Some folks might suggest this obsession is fully in line with my being an Enneagram 7. It might also be rooted in some concern about my family history with Alzheimer’s. My hunch though is that much of this is due to a work-history of juggling many tasks along with being the type of person who loves spontaneity and improv. My lists help create space in my brain to allow for greater joy. Lists on paper means I don’t have lists in my brain. Theoretically.

I hold all the above to be true for me, but at the same time I acknowledge that life isn’t about getting things done. The things that I value the most are rarely on my list of things to do… because they are the sorts of things that are unplanned. If crossing items off my list makes me giddy… these moments bring me deepest joy. 

It’s great to cross stuff off my list, but without the other stuff? What’s the purpose?

Methinks churches run into the same challenge. We do all the things we are supposed to, and there is comfort in that. We check off all the boxes and yet it sometimes feels like we are just going through the motions. When that occurs, our energy drops and so does our joy. We become, well, works oriented. Get it done (especially if you can get it done like it’s always been done!) becomes our mantra. (The pandemic didn’t remove the list, it just rearranged it a bit.)

What might you do to make space for those things you truly value – that which brings you joy – to occur? If it would help to talk through this… don’t hesitate to call.

I’ll put you on my list.


How did you get into my brain, Karen?
One difference: my master list is on the computer; no notebook!

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