An invitation came in the mail yesterday, all flowery and pleasant and happy like a child bringing fistfuls of dandelions to you. The envelope had no return address and I wasn’t expecting any invites. Inside, the date and time and place and event were all neatly laid out: lunch, with friends, on a Saturday.
I groaned the annoyed sigh of someone whose last square of Saturday in March has just been filled; someone who’s been trying to schedule 5 events in April, 2 in May, something every weekend of June, the last 2 weeks of July, and an event pushed out to August. And then school starts. And we’re not even finished with this school year, the track schedule for spring hasn’t even begun, and my kids are planning in all different directions for their summers.
I groaned about an invitation to spend a few hours with sisters I love, being served because someone thought we were worth serving. An event where all I have to do is show up. Just please be there. Please RSVP.
I’m not this person. This is not my life.
I’m the one who preaches about margin, against busy-ness, and who cringes to hear people list their to-dos like medals. I want to bring lattes and a good book to all the busy people (is there a delivery service for that? because I want to bless people but I don’t want to actually spend the whole day driving from house to house) and I’m the friend who tells you, when you get the flu and are down for the count, “Maybe God wants you to rest?”
My mind gets tangled up around special events piled on top of regular, daily living. It’s not that I don’t love people or parties or going places—it’s more about a loss of control I think. In my daily life, the schedule is mostly mine to make. But in the world of community and fellowship and all the things one should do and places at which one should be; in that world, I am swallowed by something bigger and my need for a quiet life with evenly and widely spaced outside events doesn’t seem relevant.
My tendency is to jerk to a sudden stop and quit everything.
Jesus moved from need to need and never rushed nor lost His peace nor complained about how busy He was. He wasn’t swayed by the threat of what could slip through the cracks; wasn’t anxious about the next day’s agenda; wasn’t freaked by pressing crowds. And I think if He has something to say on the matter of busy-ness it’s this:
…one thing is needed… ~ Luke 10:42
In Martha’s house, Jesus knew all her frenzied thoughts and every road she mentally traveled. Twice He says her name, as if the first time was to stop her body and the second was to still her mind. Martha, Martha, I know who you are and what you’re doing and all the whys of your frenzy and the pace you think you need to keep. I know your own expectations, but do you know mine?
The sun continues to rise on my frenzied world, same as it does in those months of winter shut-in when nothing is planned and spontaneity is welcomed because there’s time for it.
Spring and summer ought to welcome unexpected invitations. I ought to let go the shutting-in and shutting-out and just rest inside, even while my outsides endure the tyranny of the Busy Season—which, by the way, is not a season at all, but just the way life is and we’d be better off to stop thinking when school is out or when summer is over or after the holidays…
We ought to know the one thing that is needed and do that one thing. Sit at His feet in adoration and oblivion to busy-ness.
But I know—someone has to plan stuff and people need to do stuff and first we need to buy stuff and make stuff and coordinate stuff (and that’s the worst). We can’t drop the ball. We have to be responsible. We need to show up in the best way possible.
As for me and my schedule…
Something had to give in March and it always comes down to a matter of priority. If we can’t be everywhere and do everything, we have to make a choice and choices are hard. But the freedom to choose is one of the highest compliments God has given us.
I’m taking my daughter and her friends shopping in March to celebrate her birthday. I’m going to help make time for leaders in our church to fellowship and pray and have a meal together in March. I’m going to watch my daughters run track in March, celebrate the Resurrection with my family in March, and accept an invitation to have lunch with friends in March.
There was something good on the schedule that had to be replaced with something better and we almost always do have a choice, so I made a choice according to concentric circles: my family and close friends are in the innermost circles and the people in my life move outwards from there. If I have to disappoint someone, I start in the outermost circles and see what can budge.
Something else will come up, and God forgive me if I groan at all the good things He’s given.