"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul..." - Psalm 23: 1-3
**Photography by Melissa Talbot**
In the movie 'The Bucket List', a pair of cancer patients played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, while facing their own mortality, decide to comprise a list of the things they want to do before they, well, kick the bucket.
They go from skydiving to race car driving, from laughing until they cry to kissing the most beautiful girl (Jack Nicholson character's grand-daughter), from sitting at the top of an Egyptian pyramid to helping a complete stranger.
Each time I watch the movie, there is something that prompts me to make a list of things I would like to do before dying. With deep and long thought, I come up short of a significant list like they did. Maybe it's because a lot of what I really wanted to do in life has already been done sans list. Like international travel, adrenaline rushes, culinary gambles, and finding true love (giving birth to my son).
So, for the most part, I have already done most of the things that I always wanted to do. There were even things that happened, unrealized, I wanted to do until I did them, purely by blessing. Now that I am older, the list is taking on a different form. While there are a couple places I would still like to see (Israel and Bora Bora), I need there to be more depth behind the bullet points in my life.
I want it to be more about checking off boxes, not making lists. There needs to be a purpose behind the things chosen to do and the reason behind the choice. Are they on the checklist because of a need to gain attention or popularity? Are they directed at one person or every person met?
It would be easy to think of one thing and do it well. Like ridding a garden completely of weeds. That is no small task so that's probably why I don't have a massive garden, just a deck garden with veggies and spices in deep pots and planters. Priorities for my life or even for the day, have shifted. They have fallen into a marching order of the things that really need to matter in this one-chance-only life.
Like family and friends. While I may not see or talk to all of my friends and family on a consistent basis, I do pray for them. I pray for peace and hope to fill them and that they would always know they are loved. Often, that comes as a note to them saying, "I was just thinking of you and wanted to say hi!" Or being available to talk when they need more than a text. Check.
I don't want to float through life. I don't want to check the boxes of a superficial list. I don't want it to be all about me, even though those moments can happen often and fiercely. I don't want to be known as a selfish and indulgent woman who never reached out or showed compassion. So, what might the checklist look like for me?
Well, while the list might be long, I hope it will be meaningful. The points or questions of challenge will be well thought out. The spirit in which the points were written will be intentional and genuine. The only danger with making any kind of list is that it can quickly be forgotten or pushed aside, leaving something less fulfilling to take its place.
So, it's a daily decision to keep the checklist in place, somewhere visible, so that the commitment to fully check off each item is honored. That as selfish as I will feel some days, it's more important to ignore myself and reach out to others.
Will I be kind? Check - today was a good day to be kind. Will I be thankful even though things aren't going my way? Maybe tomorrow - I stubbed my toe. Will I help someone in need even though my day is crazy and the ten heavy bags of groceries are ripping my hands off? Check - ouch. Will I think before opening my mouth to deliver a sarcastic comment? Check - silence and grace won out, thankfully.
While I'm not perfect and some of the things on my checklist might take a long time to check off, consistently, it means more to be sincere about the check than to simply do away with it for the sake of getting it out of the way. What will or does your checklist look like?
Encouragement for the week:
Have you ever made a list of things you have always wanted to do? Were some of them things that added to your character and integrity?
While lists are great reminders of what we want or need to do, the items checked off with joy and a sense of satisfaction can mean alot to ourselves and others.
If you are a Christian, lists are just as critical as the items on that list. They can be a result of some great fruit being produced in you.
If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the things that He will bring into your heart that you'll want checked off.
Looking forward to hearing your comments!