What we view as an interruption may be something more. Whether parenting or ministering to others, God has a purpose.
“Can I help, Mama?”
These are the words I longed to hear back when I was hurrying toddlers to the bathroom, feeling outnumbered and wishing someone, anyone, could do something for themselves.
I set my sights on the hopeful horizon of independence when at least one of these tiny humans would be able to help the cause of whatever daily task I was trying to achieve.
And it’s strange now, how these very words make me cringe a little. Sometimes, a lot.
Help in the Kitchen
“Yes.” I smile, force myself to choose kindness, and hand her the spoon. She stirs the nearly too full pot of hot oatmeal while I pour in everything that makes oatmeal taste good.
In less than 15 seconds a sticky clump of gooey oats is propelled off the spoon and dribbles down my kitchen backsplash. Wonderful. I exhale tension and will my mouth to stay shut.
I pour in the milk slowly, carefully, and with one amateur turn of her spoon it sloshes out in cloudy splats around the stove. The burnt remains sizzle, smoke a little; they mirror my heart as I hold my tongue.
“Maybe I’ll just watch”, she says as she steps off the stool.
I’m partly relieved. Because who wants the added chore of wiping down the backsplash before we can get out the door this morning? Who wants to scour charred milk off the cooktop?
Her shoulders slump only half a centimeter, but there is weight in that smallest distance. I can’t pretend I don’t see it.
I can wipe up a backsplash in 10 seconds, scrub a stove into glassy perfection in a minute or two. Wouldn’t I give her that?
On paper, of course, I would. On a list of things my child needs, a checklist for healthy growth of self-esteem and confidence if the line read “take a minute to wipe down the kitchen backsplash and scrub burnt milk off the stove.” I would be all over the that. No problem. But why do I fail to see it in the moment? Why do I give more brain space, greater weight, to all of the other to-dos flashing through my morning mind, leaving the things I care about most, that half centimeter shoulder slump, to feel like….interruptions?
The Hurried Life
I see her at a distance in the grocery store and my cart instinctively blows past the aisle. Who has time for what that conversation might hold on a day like today? My kids are hungry, ticking time bombs, and I really just need to get a few things and be on my way. But something about this is familiar; this is less the rare occasion for me. Somehow, this has become my normal.
When did I begin viewing the very real hurt and needs of those around me as interruptions?
The Heart of Jesus’ Ministry
I’m awed by Jesus as I read through Matthew. Multitudes are finding him, following him, seeking him out. Just the thought of it makes me anxious. He barely steps foot in Capernaum and the centurion is pleading for him to help his servant. He is teaching John’s disciples and a ruler charges in asking Jesus to come heal his daughter who just died. Blind men follow him as he tries to depart. When he finally finds rest, the scared-stiff disciples wake him in the middle of the storm.
His response never fails. He makes time. Teaches. Heals. Gives of himself. Grants interruption again and again because he always knew what was at stake. He never lost sight of what really mattered.
He was never rushed or hurried. Never annoyed at the seeming change of plans because he knew what was in front of him was his very calling. The people interrupting him were never a distraction from the greater purpose. They were the greater purpose.
Something about those words catches in my throat, makes me feel exposed.
A Greater Purpose
What if the seeming interruptions in my day are not a distraction from the greater purpose? What if the distractions are my greatest purpose?
I know I need rest and space and boundaries, we all seem to hold the need for those things quite tightly. Jesus, cloaked in full humanity, would have needed those things as well. But he didn’t grasp hard for them, he trusted God for them. He did get rest, even on a ship caught up in a wild we-think-we-might-die storm. Am I only the one who finds it odd that he was sleeping through that? That had to be a supernatural sleep; God granting him the rest he desperately needed.
Maybe we could begin trusting God for that as well?
As I move through my day and my week I want to live in that kind of confidence- trusting him for eyes that see beyond my to-do list to the real need, a heart that desires his purposes over my perceived productivity and faith that he will provide rest when it is needed as well.
This is the kind of confidence that allows us to open the doors wide. This is a home that welcomes learning and growing and even oatmeal messes, always and only for his glory. May it be so.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.