To Be List
It is January, time to make our New Year’s resolutions: that Annual Grand To-Do list. I’ve recently learned something better than making To-Do lists: making To-Be lists. What do you need to be to accomplish what you want to do? To go through that garage or storage room, what state of being is required? If you feel overwhelmed by the task, your To-Be List may look like this: be fun, be grateful, be courageous, be unstoppable. (Now, let’s hit that garage!)
Central to our faith is the difference between doing and being. Jesus said “You have heard it said ‘do not kill,’ but I say anyone who calls his brother an idiot is subject to judgement … You have heard it said ‘you shall not commit adultery,’ but I say if you are lustful you have already committed adultery.” (Matthew 5). To live up to Jesus’ words it requires an inner shift; a change in our being. Apostle Paul refers to this when speaking of the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus points out, “What comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart.” (Matthew 15:18) Our ways of being come from within — from the heart.
Since the 16th century there has been a Christian tradition called “examining the conscience.” It is a method for stepping outside of ourselves to take a look at what we are doing, which reveals our heart. The person who created this practice, Ignatius of Loyola, wrote, “The first point of [this practice] is to give thanks to God our Lord for the favors received.” The goal is to be grateful to God. Being grateful is a state of being. And it is our states of being that drive our actions.
More than we realize, we can choose our states of being; doing so is a spiritual practice. As the four Advent candles reminded us, when we receive the profound gift of Christ’s coming, we have access to being peaceful, being hopeful, being joyful, and being loving. These are not actions to take, but states of being that drive our actions.
So, as we begin 2019 together, let us prayerfully explore what states of being we need to accomplish what we want to do, all to the glory of God. This applies to all areas of our lives. If you want to know more about the process of examination of the conscience and choosing our states of being, please ask me.
For more reflection: Galatians 5 (fruit of the spirit); Luke 16:6-9 (Jesus’ parable of the fig tree).