I wrote the first draft of this blog post a couple of months ago. I was still holding onto it to edit and update, and it seems especially timely now. The past few weeks have been full of unexpected interruptions. Schools closed, jobs lost, people working from home, grocery stores emptied, and the list goes on. I personally do not know anyone affected by COVID-19, and I realize that our family is far more fortunate than many who have been interrupted by severe illness, ICU stays, or unexpected death of loved ones.

A Season of Growth

As I try to wrap my head around our temporary new normal, my thoughts have gone back to my resolve at the beginning of this year. I had goals for this to be a year of welcoming people and embracing interruptions. I also wanted to cultivate the art of being still and trusting God more.

This whole situation is certainly going to force me to exercise growth in these areas. I have a six year old who is no longer in school and who is interrupting basically everything at all times. There are many in our community who are struggling who need to be treated as neighbors and family in order to survive. We can’t go out and are forced to find joy in the slow, monotonous rhythms of home. We have no way of knowing how long this situation will last or how severe it will be. But one thing is certain: if we will soften our hearts and allow it, this will undoubtedly be a season of growth.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ

I Peter 1:6-7

People are not interruptions

In her book, Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness, Leslie Verner makes the observation, “Jesus never considered people to be interruptions.” I was listening to this book recently, and those words stopped me cold. It’s so true – I can’t believe I never noticed this before!

I complain so often about interruptions. I am such a task-oriented, checklist-loving person. When I begin something, I like to keep plugging away until I’m done. Preferably in one sitting. But Jesus didn’t operate like that. He allowed learning and growth to unfold slowly and naturally. He allowed people to stop him with their problems even when he was on urgent business. Jesus was never too busy to stop, listen, and love. What an attitude changer!

Task-oriented vs people-oriented

I’ve been reflecting on the examples of embracing interruptions in the Bible. When Abraham ran to welcome the angels into his tent, when the Good Samaritan stopped along the road, when Jesus was constantly interrupted by those seeking his touch…all of those people had busy lives and responsibilities to fulfill. But they prioritized the person standing in front of them over their to-do list.

It’s so hard for me to do that! When I have a goal, I want to finish it “on time.” I resent interruptions. I’m ashamed to admit that I often resent interruptions even when they come from the people I love the most. I have to ask myself, is it really more important to meet every goal deadline, or is it more important to be present for those around me?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have goals to be productive and make the best use of our time. But completing the tasks on our list should never trump the people standing in need right in front of us.

Interests of Others

Slowing Down

I need to start viewing my schedule in a different way. While I of course need to take care of my responsibilities, I also need to stop worrying so much about checking off lists. I need to develop the flexibility to embrace interruptions.

How can we have time to help each other when every minute of every day is planned? If I want to be available to embrace interruptions and have an open heart to address the needs that arise instead of the needs I’ve planned to meet, I need to start making time to be spontaneous. I need to leave time on my calendar to be available to the people around me. My time is not so important that every panel in my planner must be filled in.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

That good part

I think about the example of Mary and Martha and how Martha is “worried and troubled about many things.” (Luke 10:31) I also grow worried and troubled about many things. It’s good to remind myself to slow down and choose “that good part,” as Mary did.

This does not come naturally to me, but I am resolved to change my thinking on this. I’ve found a shifting in the way I pray. Instead of asking God to help me do better, I ask for help in loving better. If the people in front of me are more important to me than “making progress,” then the irritation at interruptions will begin to fade. Maybe I’ll even learn to embrace the interruptions. Maybe I will see them instead as a joyful chance to spend time with the people I love and even people I don’t know yet but will learn to love.