Some structure is necessary, but we must be careful to count the cost of too much rigor. What do we lose when we always stick to the plan? And what might we gain if we looked away?
It occurred to me that my irritation at plans gone awry, schedules disrupted, was terribly selfish.
This inability to help others started to seem like less a necessary result of my station in life and more a product of my unwillingness to look up. It wasn’t a lack of time or other resources. Yes, energy is in short supply these last few months. Yes, we have some changes on our plate. But so does everyone. I just needed to be willing.
I prayed that I might start to see disruptions as opportunities, and that I might seek out more opportunities. I didn’t have to wait long.
Recent interruptions have included long phone calls I didn’t know I needed. Skipping the grocery store and feeding my children hastily-named “banana dogs” (peanut butter and bananas on hot dog rolls) so my daughter could have a leisurely day at the pool with a friend she may not get to see again. It meant finally making time to be a good neighbor. Early morning blueberry picking and delighted squeals of my daughters. It meant piles of abandoned laundry so we could make giant bubbles in the backyard. It meant letting my children stay up until 10:00 so their Daddy could be with them to sing a half-birthday song and blow out candles. It meant watching a friend's children at the last minute, as so many have done for me; a perfect afternoon at the county fair instead of home packing up closets and mulling our impending move. It meant foregoing my quiet time to myself to help my husband with a work project or look him in the eye. It’s meant editing resumes, reading extra stories, giving extra hugs and grace and lying in the bed to hold my five-year-old for five more minutes.
This is not an argument for always saying yes. I know there are a lot of people-- women in particular-- who struggle to set healthy boundaries for themselves and their families and their time. But that’s not me. After years of being overcommitted, my default answer has been to say no, to protect my family from drains on our time. And while I still believe that instinct is necessary and good, I’m afraid I've been missing out on the enormous blessing it is to bless others, even when we think we don’t have enough ourselves.
When I first moved to Tennessee I found myself volunteering on not one but two hospitality committees. I think I joked to Daniel that God was laughing at me, the career woman, now home and the type of person who would sign up for such a thing. Recently I read a blog post by Ann Voskamp that reshaped my thinking on the importance of these “small things:”