Monday, October 13, 2008

At the Well - Dealing With Interruptions

A man's heart deviseth his way: 
but the LORD directeth his steps. 
~ Proverbs 16:9 ~

How do you handle interruptions in your days?
Do you plow right on over them missing opportunities God has placed on your path? What interruptions frustrate you the most? How are you working to overcome that?
Oh, boy. Did you have to ask these questions?

How do I handle interruptions in my day?

Scenario #1:
I - am - pumped.

After seeing something online, hearing something on the radio, or discussing a hot issue with a friend, I am on a blog-writing roll. The thoughts are fresh, the passion is high, and the words are really flowing.


"Oh, who is it now?"

Caller I.D.: Zion Chapel

It's pastor.


My heart softens immediately at the elderly, Dutch accent on the other end of the line. I begin by opening the radio list for our church's broadcast knowing he will have a question about one of the stations. Next, I grab a notepad and pen, ready to jot down new stations or information I may need to email to someone.

Before I know it, the call is complete, and I have a few quick things to do for the church's radio broadcast which won't take but a minute (or maybe an hour).

Scenario #2:

I finally get a burst of energy and decide to clean out the closet in our bedroom. Our youngest son delightfully assists me by piling everything on our bed. (Not where I would have preferred to have them.) However, if I hurry, I can get it all back in before bedtime, and it won't matter.


Hm. Who could that be? UPS? The mail carrier? Nope. It's a lady from down the street who needs to use the phone.

"Sure, come on in."

I get back to work so she can complete her call privately in the next room. However, I keep feeling this nudge in my heart from the Holy Spirit.

"Ask her to stay for a cup of tea."

"But, Lord, I have to get this done before bed time! She's probably got things to do, anyway."

I hear her hang up the phone, so I head back to the living room.

"Brenda, I know you're probably busy (hint, hint), but would you like to sit and have a cup of tea with me?"

Of course, she would. *sigh*

As I sip my concoction of decaf Earl Grey with a smidgen of loose double bergamot, I begin to feel the tension of the work I've been doing ease from my tired muscles. Brenda acts as though she has something troubling her, so I ask what's going on with her these days. Out pours a flood of troubles wide enough to drown even the deepest soul. We talk a bit, I offer a few ideas, then we go to God in prayer about it. She leaves not even an hour after arriving, and I am delighted to have been of service in the Kingdom. The piles on the bed get moved over before I go to fix dinner, but that's okay. Piles can wait. Friends can't.

Scenario #3:

(Uh, just a minute. The phone's ringing. It's pastor.)


Scenario #3:

(Wait a minute, the dryer stopped. Andrew!!!!!!!! Put the clothes in the dryer!!!!)

Let's see, where was I? Oh, yes.

Scenario #3:

(Lydia has let me know that my teakettle has sung. Would I like to join her for a cup of tea? Of course!)

Okay, I'm back.

Well, anyway, you get the idea.

So, how do I handle interruptions? Do I just plow through them? How can I? Though my flesh cries out that I have important things to do, the Spirit over rides those pleas and reminds me that He has important things to do through me. I don't always take it with a right heart, but the Lord always turns me around eventually to the truth that His will and His plans are the interruptions of my day.

I didn't always take these interruptions as gracefully as I do now. However, I am finding that the sooner I let go, the sooner my mind can stop fretting about it. It is a matter of actively submitting my will to God's will.

Now, that's not to say that all interruptions are acceptable. We must also use discernment. For instance, I had neighbors in our poor neighborhood in Peoria who would pester us day and night to "borrow" things, anything from a Tylenol for their headache to the cereal they saw sitting on our breakfast table! It got to be that we couldn't finish a lesson of school because someone was ringing the door bell. Yes, it really was that bad. So, I crafted a wooden door hanger that let folks know we were not to be disturbed while school was in session. It worked! They just came back once I took the sign down. *sigh*

Another big interrupter is the telephone. I have a friend or two who only call once a month, but the conversations sometimes last two to three hours. I have tried to get off the phone sooner with these folks, but you can ask my family, they won't let me go without a fight. But, we have caller I.D., and I know how to use it. We have trained our children to always check it first before answering (especially when I'm in the bathroom -- see below). There are times when I just have to let the answering machine get it, then call them back later when I have the leisure (what's that?) to give them the time they need from me.

Children can be legitimate interrupters, but not always. Some of the other ladies at the well mentioned little ones getting up just as they are ready to start devotions. They cannot be ignored. However, I wonder if giving them a little snack and letting them snuggle with you as you read your Bible might help. I am reminded of the story of Susanna Wesley. She had six children who were in constant need of her attention. But, she trained them to not disturb her when she sat at the table with her apron over her head. This was her time of prayer, and it taught them that calling upon the Lord was very important to Mother.

Some interruptions from one's children do have a limit, however. There are just times when you must insist on your privacy, even if only for a little while. I found a copy of a little ditty about a mother talking to her children who were at the door of the bathroom.

Attention Children:
The Bathroom Door is Closed.
Please do not stand there and talk, whine, or ask questions.
Wait until I get out.
Yes, it is locked. I want it that way.
It is not broken, I am not trapped.
I know I have left it unlocked, and even open at times,
since you were born, because I was afraid
some horrible tragedy might occur
while I was in there,
but it's been 10 years and I want some
Do not ask me how long I will be.
I will come out when I am done.
Do not bring the phone to the bathroom door.
Do not go running back to the phone yelling
She's in the BATHROOM!
Do not begin to fight as soon as I go in.
Do not stick your little fingers under the door and wiggle them.
This was funny when you were two.
Do not slide pennies, Legos, or notes under the door.
Even when you were two this got a little tiresome.
If you have followed me down the hall talking,
and are still talking as you face this closed door,
please turn around, walk away,
and wait for me in another room.
I will be glad to listen to you when I am done.
And yes, I still love you.

(I thought about posting a copy this to the bathroom door, but the children weren't as amused as I was.)

So, it's really a matter of discerning which interruptions are from the Lord and which are truly hindering the priorities you know the Lord would have you do. Perhaps your devotions are interrupting your time with your little ones. Hm. That's another way to look at it. :)