Each month I develop a short list of daily practices—things I try to do or think about each day. I was inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, who was in turn inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s list of Virtues, which he tracked each day to check his progress. You gotta love a Founding Father who found time to be so anal-retentive…
My daily practices might include walking (which is on my list every month), singing in the morning (always makes me feel good, and is one of Gretchen’s favorites too), or reading something that I’m not required to read (fiction, “fun” nonfiction, poetry).
Anyway, one of my practices in September is “let something go.” This may mean leaving something unsaid, but also includes leaving something undone that was on my to-do list.
Now, leaving something undone is kind of a no-brainer, like eating breakfast, or breathing. There is rarely enough time or energy to complete absolutely everything I hope to do in a day. I’m always coming to the end of a day and moving one or multiple things to the next day’s list.
But this month I’m trying to shift the focus. Instead of working diligently throughout the day, then looking at the leftovers each evening and saying, “Oh well, maybe tomorrow,” I’m trying to pick something out in the morning that I had planned to do and to say No to it. To let it go, preemptively and intentionally.
I’m doing this to give myself some additional space in my schedule, but I’ve been surprised to realize there’s something deeper going on.
You’ve probably heard the old thing about the “Persian flaw,” which is the practice of rugmakers to include an intentional mistake in their rugs. Only God is perfect, you see. The Persian flaw is as an act of devotion and humility.
I think of “letting something go” in the same way. The way I figure it, my life is my great work (I mean great in the sense of large, and only in that sense!). One of the most important materials at my disposal is Time, and after many years of ministry and motherhood, I’ve gotten pretty skilled at utilizing it. Sometimes too skilled. I’m trying to make Time my friend again—a real friend, not just the friend I call when I need something, amiright? So leaving something undone is my Persian flaw. It’s an act of devotion and humility.
The poetry of the creation story (Gen. 1) is very linear: this on day one, that on day two, rest on day seven. Nothing rolls over on the almighty to-do list, eh? Letting one thing go each day is a way of acknowledging a perfection, a coherence that will always be beyond me. It also helps me find a little bit of Sabbath each day.