Saturday, February 24, 2018

Enough Lenten Practices

I made a "to do" list last night that, even though it was on paper, made me want to add #winningatlife.

1) Call my parents
2) Sleep in
3) Wash sheets

Any time you can convince yourself that "sleeping in" is an appropriate item on your to do list, you're doing something very right, IMHO.

It's not that I'm caught up on everything that I could or should be doing, it's just that my normal routine is off while I'm still trying not to let my latest allergy issues run away with me, so sleeping in becomes a real priority. Luckily, for me, "sleeping in" merely means waking up without an alarm and feeling well-rested, because I still woke up insanely early, but I was truly awake and ready to go. My sheets are currently in the dryer. I haven't had breakfast yet, so I won't call my parents on an empty stomach, but that will happen today. I think this list is going to get done.

I started writing my to do lists this way last year. I'm pretty sure I was introduced to this concept by Joshua Becker at "Becoming Minimalist". It's called an "Enough List". It's not all of the things that I need to do in a day, it's the 3 things that most need to be done today, the things that will make me feel the most relaxed, the things that are most weighing on me, the things with some kind of a deadline. Only 3 things are on the list. Sometimes it feels like it absolutely has to be 5 things, so it's interesting to have to narrow it down to 3. I love it, though. Three things are doable. Three things allows me to focus instead of crazily running around trying to get to all of the things that I feel like I could or should be doing. When I am focused on those big ticket things for the day, there is suddenly room for the other things to fit into the margins. Not everything, but many other important things. Instead of feeling like a failure for not getting to everything, now any extra thing that gets done makes me feel like I am ahead of the game. In short, I love "Enough Lists".

Wouldn't you know that I planned my Lent like my old "to do" lists. The thought process went something like this: "I'm going to give up this thing. Ooh, and actually, I'm going to also give up that on Fridays. And Mondays and Wednesdays. And I'm going to make time to go do this and this, and also that." Etc. It was a messy jumble of stuff.

A wise commenter on my last post pointed out that these Lenten practices, or exercises, should be treated like physical exercises. If what you're doing isn't working, sometimes it's because it's not the right thing for you right now. So I guess I need an "Enough List" for Lent. Given that we are reminded about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this time of year, it seems like there are some convenient categories for my three things. Because I still feel like there should be 5 or 7 things, it feels like a bit of a cop out to only focus on three, but the point is, I can actually focus on them. That means that I can make sure they get done. The last day or so is already going so much better.

Enough List for Lent:

1) Pray evening prayer
2) No TV after 5 pm
3) Use some of my discretionary money for people in need

In theory, I like elaborate Lenten practices that really make me dig in and show my Lenten prowess. The reality is that often we're far better off to do some small things well. (That's not always true. Sometimes God has something big that He wants us to do, to rely on Him in a deeper way.) For me, this year, I think it's safe to say that there may be a little pride involved when I want to doallthegoodthingsrightnow. This "Enough List" is my reminder that maybe this Lent is not about me doing all the things, it's about clearing a bit of space for God to do His work in me.


  1. Oooo, I like this! I am feeling a little overwhelmed at my list of 7 - yes 7! - Lenten things. I think I need to narrow it down to the 3 that will make the biggest difference.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Exactly! I love your slimmed down list because it is a lot more focused. I make a to do list almost every day and there are about 5 things that are usual like "wake up, pray, breakfast, work, walk/workout, dinner" (yeah I write that stuff down so I can cross it off) and then there are 2-3 things that are out of my usual routine like "clean stove & counter tops, call Drs. offices for Ma Crow/schedule appts. and do grocery lists/meal plan for week." Doing things this way has helped me in so many ways and at the end of the day I throw away the post it I wrote it on which feels so good to do! I usually make my list in the evening and if I could not get to something then I just put it on the list for the next day. Doing things this way has helped me to manage my perfectionism which has helped my brain calm down :) I will look into Joshua Becker since it sounds like I would jive with what he has to say.

  3. Your enough list is wonderful and I think you're right on the money with them. I do something similar with an Add, Subtract, Do list. I added in a Lenten daily study. I subtracted secular music in the car. And we added praying together as a family before meals. (Which sounds so simple, but we weren't doing it before! *I sheepishly admit*)