Are you a List Maker? Do you need to write things down so you'll remember? I do. I have a list of groceries to buy, meals to make, ideas and deep thoughts to write about... people to call, bills to pay and things to do next while I am online before I get lost in an article or on facebook. I am definitely a list maker. It's mostly because I am a Forgetter. I forget names, good ideas, things I've done and people who are mad at me. Eventually, I even forget people I didn’t get along with and I don’t hold grudges.
Being a forgetter can be a good thing... but when it comes to spiritual growth it can really be a downer. Like when I forget how great it feels to fast for Lent, and then when it’s time to fast again, I complain about it. Or when I find comfort reading Bible passages, but I never stop to read the Bible on a regular basis. Or, when I pray for things I want in the moment forgetting about the Big Picture- God’s perfect perspective. That’s when I find myself praying without discernment: Lord, please bless me with a well paying job. Lord, please bless me with lots of children to love and care for. Lord, please find a husband who is kind and loving and always home for dinner… but be sure he has a job that makes enough money that I can have everything I desire, including long vacations.
I used to pray for opposite things all the time, mostly because I wanted it all. I wanted everything without the consequences.
On the other hand, I also realized that I would say I wanted something, but after I really thought about it, it wasn’t what I truly wanted... it wasn’t what my heart truly desired.
So one day, at the suggestion of a friend, I started writing down what I was going to pray for. Not just a list of names of who to pray for, but a list of what I wanted, hoped for, for myself and my friends and family. I prayed from this list each night. And you know what I found… There were things on my list I truly wanted and things that weren’t going to be good for me. There were prayers that weren’t answered and that was okay, because I knew I tried, so the answer must have been “No.” It was a good lesson of discernment. But the best part was the there were things I was crossing off my list to write a little “thank you” in the margin, lots of things! Things I thought were pretty much impossible, were happening.
And then the darndest thing happened. I stopped writing my list. I was afraid to ask for things because I might actually get what I asked for. And that scared me. I thought I was being selfish.
Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense.
But I am over that now. I got back to writing my lists again. Today, I have a little notebook on my icon shelf, a tiny thing. And I rewrote my lists. From the front of the notebook I have lists for people, a page for each of the following: immediate family members, relatives, friends from church, friends from school, friends from work, clergy families and spiritual fathers- past and present. There is a memorial list for people who have died as well. Another friend taught me to pray for parishioners and relative who didn’t have children or grandchildren, since there will most likely be only one generation to remember them- and we don’t know how long till the Second Coming.
As for things and situations, starting from the back, I have lists for those: for me, my family and for others. It’s not a long list. And I am very careful as to what I write on it. But I write it with an understanding that I might just get what I ask for.
This morning I was able to write another “thank you” in the margin. It wasn’t scary this time. It was actually very comforting.