March 11, 2006

Psychology Case Study

It was last Sunday, after church. My wife needed to drive up to Red Bluff once again, and would be gone for the rest of the day, leaving me and my two sons at home. There was a lot I wanted to accomplish that afternoon (mostly cleaning the house and doing some laundry), but I also wanted to work out and spend some time with my boys.

After lunch, I sat down and made a list. Actually, it was more of a timeline of sorts. I remember when I was little, my mom used to do this on days she had lots of housework to do. On her written schedule would be tasks like "laundry," "vacuum," "pick up living room," etc., but also, mixed in with all the chores, occasional 15-minute blocks of "play solitaire." Well, I don't like solitaire, but I do like playing with my sons, so I made my own list on that Sunday afternoon. Ethan watched me, and made a few additions of his own. As an added bonus, since he saw on the list periods of time designated "play with Ethan and Tristan," he was content to stay out of my way, if not help, when I was busy with chores.

By evening, I had accomplished everything on my list, which gave me a sense of satisfaction. It was only then that I realized the irony of it all: this was the afternoon following my "blank bulletin" experiment at church. Apparently, without a set schedule to follow in the morning, I needed one in the afternoon.

The morning went wonderfully well, better than I could have hoped, and was a moving and inspirational experience for our congregation. I even cast aside the few unwritten things I had slipped up my sleeve in favor of spirit-led spontaneity. Worshipers felt free to call out what they wanted, and the Spirit was very much present in worship last Sunday. Being creatures of habit, the service ended up following the same general format/order, and yet there were lots of little surprises and holy interruptions along the way.

Nevertheless, by afternoon I was ready for a little more order & structure. If there are any psych majors who read this, feel free to leave your comments & observations....


Anita said...

The only way I ever feel like I've gotten anything done, is to write the list AFTER I do things, so I can cross them off right away! =)

Good for Ethan! I like that idea of letting him/them know that you are 'scheduling' time for them, too! Good job, Danny!

I'm glad to read more about your church service experiment, and to be able to feel not only your sense of relief that it worked, but the measure of excitement that ... well, it worked! LOL!

Hope said...

Oh, I chuckled outloud at this post. Being an avid list maker in the past I could relate. Lists make a person feel like they are in control of something. Health problems have eliminated my ability to have a list longer than one item. I never scheduled in time to play with the kids when I was in a list making mood though(they had to stay out of my way until I had it all done) - good for you for seeing that lists go farther than chores that need to be done.

I posted on my blog not too long ago about not being a list maker anymore and my adult daughter left a comment that she remembers well those days of lists and she likes the way I am now a whole lot better.