Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Trading in My Check-List

I have a vivid memory of myself at 12 years old. Sitting cross-legged on my bed, I stuck a freshly laminated check-list on my sponge-painted bedroom wall. (And by "laminated," I mean a piece of paper covered with a whole lot of clear scotch tape.) I remember feeling so excited and expectant about this new way of structuring my life. The check-list, complete with little squares that I could check off with a dry erase marker, read something like:

Mackenzie's Daily Checklist
- Read Bible for 15 minutes
- Clean room for 10 minutes
- Do all of my homework
- Spend 10 minutes praying
- Daily activities (such as youth group, soccer practice, etc.)

I was obviously a lover of structure. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was also a lover of pleasing people. I loved God and wanted Him to love me back. I loved my parents, my teachers, and my coaches, and I wanted them to approve of me. This checklist served as a way for me to order my life in a way that I could try to please people. And please God.

The check-list was also an unfortunate picture of what I would struggle with for most of my life. Though, as an adult, I don't literally have a check-list next to my bed, I daily find myself wanting to live like this. If I read my Bible, clean my house, call my mom, write a good blog post, bathe my child often - then people, and God, will love me. I have to fight this people-pleasing mentality. And what's more - I have to fight the idea that if I do all the "right" things, that God will love me more.

I like to think that this isn't such a bad way to live. Keeping a check-list keeps my relationship with Him going, right? But in reality, my check-list is the fruit of what's really at the core of my heart. It's me DOING, out of fear. It's me hoping that I can stay in the favor of God with my actions. And it's me, in the honest place of my heart, crossing my fingers that somehow I'll hear a "well done, good and faithful servant" at the end of my life. As if it was up to me to earn it.

1 John 4:19 says that we "can have boldness on the day of judgment." Why? Because "He first loved us." Why do I not need to be afraid when I stand before Jesus (and thus not have to live by a check-list)? Because God loved me when I had done NOTHING for Him. Before I had opened a page of the Bible or breathed a word of prayer. I was "enough" for Him then; so I am "enough" for Him now.

I'm a little scared, but: I'm throwing away my check-list. I'm asking the Lord to be motivated out of HIS love for me. Because living out of His love is how I can actually enjoy the freedom that God's grace brings. Will you join me?

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Freedom Found Me

This post is part of a series on grace called "Freedom Found Me." I call myself a recovering "earn-aholic", trying to enjoy God's grace instead of striving to earn it. Jesus offers freedom, through His grace - and we don't have to go searching for it. It's right out there in the open. In fact, His freedom found me. Click the picture above to see more of the series!


Here's 2 quick pieces of business for the week!
- We have a winner for the "Organizing From the Heart" giveaway! The lovely Megan! Congratulations Megan!

- Finally, Wednesday of this week will be the last day that I'm accepting participants in my Holiday Giveaway & Gift Guide. You can reach me at for details.


  1. LOVE THIS::"Because living out of His love is how I can actually enjoy the freedom that God's grace brings. "

    That checklist looks similar to my checklist at 12 years old.

    Praising the Lord for his GRACE! and joining you in his freedom!

    Love you, girl!

  2. What a great post! It is so hard for me to remember that too, that it's not about all we do that will make God love and accept us. He has already done that. I hope to someday be able to throw out my lists too.

  3. Wow.... I soooo needed this! I struggle with the same thing, only as a 15 year old. Thank you for writing this blog. I am a fairly new reader... Found you via Casey Weigand :) love your blog and your heart for the Lord. God bless you!!!

  4. Enjoyed your post today. Thanks for sharing. I love that Grace seems to be a common theme among the blogs I really enjoy reading.

  5. Isn't it funny the little things we latch onto that we think define being a "good mom"?! I laughed when I read "bathe my child often." I think my secret definition of "good mom" is no screen time and taking him to the park! I was beating myself up recently because I felt like I kept choosing rest over prayer and quiet time. In the Lord's faithfulness, He reminded me how He KNOWS I am pregnant and just can't get enough rest right now, and He has grace for that! So much grace that He still fills me with insights and peace from Him despite my lack of set aside time with Him! Loved this post! Yay grace!!!

  6. This is SO good Mackenzie!! I am definitely a list-girl. It is like I am constantly keeping a tally in my head and that is just not how Jesus works. There is ridiculous freedom in Him.

  7. I SO used to do this. I'd make like "morning" checklists that were like:

    wake up
    brush teeth
    brush hair
    put on makeup
    put on deoderant

    LOL. As if I'd forget to do that stuff.. I just liked having a list.


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