So often, I have goals for the day, whether it is to get certain things checked off my list or to behave in a certain way---smile more, bark less---the list keeps me accountable. While I'm pretty good at checking most things to-do off the list during the course of the day, behavioral goals seem to escape me. I don't think it really works to make a list that says:
- Avoid sweets
- Be patient with Child A
- Let go of your anger
I mean, if I'm patient the first time, can I check it off my list and then yell the next time? Or is this a list that is never checked off?
I heard recently on the Taylor Marshall podcast (which you ought to listen to at least once since he gives good spiritual and practical tips) that you should make your short (3-4 items) to-do list during the course of your morning prayer so that you know what God's will is for you that day. Again, I think it's pretty easy to do three things on your list and let other things wait when you know which ones take precedence.
What is not so easy is resisting the temptation to yell, or to leave the cookies (today it's peppermint fudge) untouched. Because...
- I can stop eating sweets when the fudge is gone, or tomorrow,
- I didn't get up set over that last infraction of the rules, but this one is really bad,
- I can forgive so-and-so, and be thankful for the lesson in humility, but can't I just tell him how I feel first?
Know what I mean?
Here's another example that has happened all too frequently over the years...You sit down to read a lesson, usually on religion, and the students start acting up. Pretty soon, you're so frustrated that you have to walk away---too angry to give a proper lesson in Christianity. If you don't do the lesson, you-know-wins; if you do the lesson while furious, I think he still wins.
So, when it comes to behavior modification (your own, that is) how do you pull yourself back into the moment and bring Jesus with you? Sometimes, all too rarely, I'll throw out that prayer of desperation when things are really bad. Other times, when it's just difficult but not terrible, I don't remember to pray or ask for help. I just keep soldiering on. Or worse, I don't even remember that I had a goal to be patient or stick to my diet. My current feelings, whatever they are, just take over.
How do you keep yourself mindfully in the present?