Some people are more productive and efficient than others. This can often be attributed to their habit of organizing and listing all that they want to do. There is something powerful about writing down your plans and stating what you hope to accomplish.
While writing a list of grocery items, daily tasks or a budget is very helpful, what about lists pertaining to our relationships? It is more likely that we will list for task efficiency, but not for improving our relationships.
Unless you have a brain injury that causes you to lose your memory, your mind is always keeping lists of old data. I’ve seen senior citizens tear up as they remember a childhood trauma or attachment. Often our memory list has emotional strings attached.
Without pen or paper, we actually do keep relational lists. We keep track of what others say and do. We don’t need to write down the things that embed deeply into our emotions.
Alcoholics and addicts have a mental list entitled ‘resentments’. If you feel the need to write it down, social media provides a ready pulpit to trash talk your enemies and the people who hurt you.
We may refer to our resentment list when we deciding how to treat someone. We were taught this from childhood from none other than Santa Claus.
“He’s making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice.”
That’s right! The patron saint of performance-based approval is Nicholas. If you behave well, you can expect to be rewarded with the toys that you are hoping for. If you do not behave, you will get no presents. You will be blacklisted and have to work hard for a year to prove that you deserve to receive a gift.
Addictions and sinful patterns require a steady input from our list of resentments, lies and blame to keep going. There is a mental list that shuts our heart door to God and to the love of others. It is a list that we use against ourself to justify the punishment we bring home.
Every parent knows the power of a good performance-based bribe. If you do this, I’ll do that for you. While a little incentive can be a good thing, we must guard against instilling a belief that love is always based on meeting the conditions. God’s love often comes in spite of the performance of the one receiving it. Grace and mercy are God’s property—but on permanent loan to any who need to use it.
In describing God’s love, Paul said that love keeps no record (list) of wrongs. Real love does not have room for resentment. The memorial list needs to be burned when love takes over. What a wonderful experience to come to God and have our sins forgiven, never to be remembered against us again!