There is a small sheet of paper that hangs on the wall above my bed. It’s positioned above the place where I often rest my head. It has a list of names. Mostly people, but there are a few locations on it. And the top of the paper simply says “PRAY” in capital letters. It’s my prayer list, and it constantly changes and will soon have to be replaced by an updated list, but that’s okay.
I’m not bragging about my spiritual maturity when I’m telling you this. The list exists because I don’t pray. The names on the list are people I care about, but also people I’ve wronged. There are names on the list of family members who I see frequently, but there are names on the list of people that live across the country that I owe a phone call. The phone call may or may not happen, but the names are on the list. There are names on the list of people that flat out hate my guts. And that’s cool too. They may never be able to forgive me for whatever reason they have for hating me, but their names are on the list..
Those names are on the list because I need to be mindful of them. I need to be aware of those names who I don’t talk to as much anymore or those names that hate me. Even in the times that I’m not down on my knees in prayer for them, the list serves as a reminder to be mindful. I think I’m learning more and more the importance of just being mindful.
I live in Jackson, Mississippi. It is not Ferguson, Missouri. I have never even been near Ferguson. I know nothing about the place and I know nothing about the situation. Truthfully, I probably don’t care about what may be happening there like I should be. But I’m mindful of it. I’m aware that all parties involved have made mistakes and have struggles and all have things we need to be mindful of. All sides of the issue need to be minded. I pray I can remember the importance of that.
Maybe I’m a little less passionate about my dear sports rivalries these days. Maybe I’m just tired of opinions being screamed on every media and social media outlet that exists. But at the same time, when Johnny Manziel does something stupid, I don’t get as enraged at him as I used to. And I think it’s because I’m more mindful of his condition as well. And I’m more mindful of the students, alumni, and fans of teams that I’ve always despised. And in the end, I’m maybe more mindful of how insignificant those issues are in light of the people involved. So maybe I’m not any less passionate, and in a few weekends I’ll be at a football stadium proving that I’m just as recklessly passionate as always. But I’m more mindful of the people involved, and less willing to sacrifice their humanity in the name of opinions and sports.
I’m a bit more ecumenical these days. I guess you have to when you’re a Presbyterian working daily with youth in a United Methodist church. I still love my Calvin, but I’m understanding Wesley a little bit more. And ultimately, I’m more mindful of the benefits of focusing more on the people than the denomination. It seems simple, but the less I focus on what’s wrong with the American church and all the steps we need to take to “fix” Jesus’ public relations, the more I can focus on the people involved. The more mindful I am of the people and not the issues, the closer I am to God.
I haven’t been writing as much recently. I haven’t been talking as much recently. I’ve been more mindful recently, however. I’ve been more mindful of why I bother writing and talking, and ultimately it’s because of the people involved. My focus isn’t on writing so you will like me. My focus is writing so you know that I’m thinking of you. That you’re on my list.
My prayer list serves a purpose. It reminds me that I don’t pray like I should. But it reminds me to stay mindful. It reminds me that my opinions mean absolutely nothing in light of the Truth and the people involved. People should trump issues every time.
I pray we are mindful enough to remember that every day.