I have two daughters who absolutely adore each other . . . when they’re not locked in hand-to-hand combat over a toy. It’s usually something that one of them couldn’t care less about until the other one decided to pick it up. A couple of weeks ago, I told them how tired I was of seeing them arguing all the time. I reminded them that their greatest treasure isn’t their toys. It’s each other.
“That’s it!” my four-year-old declared. “No more fighting. I’m taking it off my list.” Then she got up and marched off to her room, where apparently she has a to-do list that includes putting her sister in a headlock over a Barbie.
It got me thinking that maybe there are some things that we all need to take off our list. For you maybe it’s avoiding conflict or, the flip-side, losing your temper with your spouse or throwing the past up in their face when you’re mad. Maybe it’s compromising your values to get ahead at work or talking about people behind their backs. Or maybe it’s just giving up – on yourself, on a relationship or on God.
Whatever it is, your life could be totally different if you drew a line in the sand and said, “That is off my list.”
For example, for my wife and I, divorce is off our list. It’s just not an option. Ever. So, on those days when we don’t see eye to eye (I love you more. No, I love YOU more!) it forces us to suck it up and work it out. I might drive her crazy enough to push me off a cliff someday, but I know divorce is never on the table.
A wise king named Solomon once said, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self control.” In the ancient world, walls protected a city and all those who lived there from harm.
When we takes things off our list, we’re creating boundaries for our lives that say, “I’ll go this far and no further.” We all need guardrails on our lives to protect us and keep us sane, and we all need a God who can give us the strength and conviction to actually live within those boundaries for our own good.
The great thing about taking something off our list is that it makes us find better ways to deal with whatever we’re facing. It forces us to get creative and work out life as an adult . . . or as a four-year-old who is smart enough to realize that some things should just be out of bounds.