A while ago I sat down and wrote out a list of things that fill me up or drain me emotionally. I wrote it on a 3×5 card – fills on one side and drains on the other. I’m not sure if it was an exercise that was suggested by something I read, or just another one of those random things I do every once in a while. But I found the card in a pile of papers and looked it over again. I’ll share a bit later.
How about you? Have you ever thought about fillers and drainers?
I have been reading a book by John Ortberg about his relationship with Dallas Willard, the great philosopher-theologian. (Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You) I thought how timely my little list was as I thought about caring for my soul. One of the passages in the book stuck out.
“People in churches — including pastors — have been crushed with guilt over their failure at having a regular quiet time or daily devotions. And then, even when they do, they find it does not actually lead to a healthy soul. Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day. It’s the next twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes. You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.”
As I looked at my list of draining items, I realized that I couldn’t control all of them. Some just were. Some I could control a little and a couple others I could probably control more significantly. But Dallas said we should experience total contentment, etc. Puzzling, isn’t it? We can only eliminate a certain degree of negativity from our lives.
But another one of his quotes helped me to get closer.
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
I noticed that this wasn’t on my lists. But I realized that it was a key concept. Hurrying through life often means missing the joy of life, the “being present” of living. But he also said a key was “arranging your days” – and that implies that you have some control. If I can arrange my days so that I add in good things and try to limit the negative aspects when possible, perhaps it will be more likely that I can be present with God throughout the day. Of course, I must first desire to be with God – and bend my thoughts in that direction.
So on to my lists.
- Beauty – ocean, mountains, etc
- Hanging out with Nan
- Dinners out
- Family Problems
- Excessive Work
- Anxiety about Health, Aging
- Pessimistic or Resistant People
- Having to Manage People
So how about you – do you have your own lists? Can you add to mine?