Stopping to remember

I knew getting up today that my day was going to be busy and squished.  I had a list of personal tasks, some specific shopping to deal with, a meeting with a friend to chat about something we’re both pursuing, taiji class, and some odd chunks of in-between time to try and do something useful with, or else just try to spend in an interesting way.  I moved through my morning routine, which is a list unto itself — if I don’t mark out for myself what I need to do at the beginning of the day to get myself put together and moving, the entire day can spin off into weird uselessness.  I’m bad at routine.  I need to write lists for myself, even of the things that just plain need to happen every day, without fail.

The end of my morning list includes spending time in journaling, spending time reading something from the bible, and spending time in prayer.  Those three things that are so vital for me, but which are so easy to skip if I don’t make a strong point of them.

Today I was tempted again to pass over them lightly, even with my list right at my elbow, waiting to check things off.  On some days the task list is so compelling, and I know it feels good to get those finished and out of the way.  Or else I feel squished, and like if I don’t start doing useful things NOW, I won’t get anywhere near where I’d like to by the end of the day.

I skimmed through some journaling time, scribbling fast. I read the next psalm in turn, writing some notes but not digging deeply into the meaning of it.  I thought about skipping through and leaving these things until the afternoon, for those odd blocks of time I expected to have between my other tasks.

I hesitated, fiddling with my pen, considering whether or not to stop and spend time in prayer.  And then I came to myself and remembered what I was doing.

Everyone has their own set of priorities, whether or not they are consciously considered.  Everyone has an internal ranking of what comes first, which things are allowed to trump other things.  The more conscious the list is, I think the better life can be.  I’m not always aware of my list, but I want to be.

This morning I was on the point of letting my schedule trump my relationship with God, and that’s the wrong way around.  Relationships trump tasks, always.  Without relationships, tasks are empty.  And without that primary relationship with God, my life is meaningless.  Nothing else sorts itself out right, when I’m flailing through it all on my own.  Now and then I slip into that pattern, and inevitably I end up frazzled and upset, wondering why I can’t make sense of anything or keep up with life at all.

I remembered this morning, on the very point of forgetting, why time with scripture and time spent in prayer are on my morning list.  They qualitatively change my life for the better.  They remind me to keep in contact with someone who loves me deeply and is always trying to help me, to do better and be better.  Prayer is a conversation, and one I need to return to often.

I remembered, and slapped my notebook of lists closed, and uncapped my pen to do what I most need on a busy day: spend time writing prayers, remembering who God is and who I am, remembering why all of the busyness matters.  Giving myself back the calm and perspective I need to judge which of the busy things actually matter, and which can just get dropped in the face of what’s really important.  Remembering who’s in charge around here, anyway.  Certainly not me.

The day continues, and I’ve had enough time for everything.  That sense of rush-rush-hurry was a lie, as it usually is.  In giving a little bit of time to remembering instead of rushing, I feel like I gained back the rest of my day.  The tasks are a pleasure instead of a burden.  I’ve got time to smile, time to breathe, time to look out the window and watch the clouds roll by.  More time to remember who I am and who God is, and to be glad of both.

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