On the Meyers Brigg personality assessment I am an INFJ. The J basically means I love schedules. I stress about being on time and being efficient with my day. I struggle when people don’t communicate when they are going to be late or cancel last minute. But I’m slowly learning to lessen my grip on my daily agenda, to leave room for the Holy Spirit to move.
What if We Left Room?
We live in a transitional neighborhood where parts are still a little rough. One day about two years ago our family was heading somewhere and stopped to get gas a few blocks from our house (this same gas station would go on to have a double homicide a few months later.) On this particular day we noticed what we assumed was a woman who was selling her body. She was going car to car to see if anyone wanted her service. She got to one truck, spoke to the man through the window, then went around and got in on the passenger side. He then quickly drove away. My husband and I watched with sadness and disgust but finished getting our gas and then drove away.
About a week later I thought about her again. Getting a little distance from the situation, I was convicted and surprised at our lack of compassion and empathy as we watched the interaction. We may not have been able to do much but I wonder what would have happened if I had said something. What if I interrupted her and said, “Whatever he is paying you, we will give you so you don’t have to turn this trick.” Or what if we had just offered her a home cooked meal for dinner? Offered a place to stay for the night?
I’m sure we were in a rush and had an agenda, and her life might not have changed that day. But if we had stopped what we were doing I know a tiny bit of light could have broken through her darkness. Ever since that day we’ve tried to be intentional with our days and our time. Are we busy every night? Do we rush from school to sports to homework to bedtime? Is there space in our day for glorious interruptions? When I let my agenda rule my day instead of being present for people and for my children I find myself more anxious, grumpier, and less kind.
When the Agenda is Love
A few months ago we had a family over that was going through trial after trial. The mom had recently been divorced and the children were hard to handle. They came super late and forgot to bring the salad they had offered to bring. She then needed my husband to help her move a few things. Half way through the evening, we still hadn’t been able to sit down to eat dinner. I found myself not anxious, not annoyed, and really present. I surprised myself! I took note of what was different. For one, my only agenda for the evening was to love on that family and because it wasn’t a school night I wasn’t hyper about getting the kids in bed at a certain time. And let me tell you, I enjoyed myself so much more because I was open to whatever happened.
In ministry we can get bogged down with task lists. Could we instead pray for eyes to see who needs us? Who could use a hug or hot meal? Could we pray to be more aware of when the glorious interruptions happen and then not brush them off?
While we can’t be completely agenda free—after all, our kids still need to get to bed on time, we need regular time for our spiritual soul food, and whatever other important routines we have. But here’s the deal— are we scheduling ourselves to death to the point of leaving no room to stop and talk to our neighbors, to help the single mom in our midst, to stop and chat with the homeless man we see every day? I say we should lead the way in going against the culture of busy around us. When someone needs us or just wants to spend time with us, let’s be able to say, “Yes, I have time!” Things might really have to change for that to happen—our social circles might have to shrink, maybe our kids can’t do that extra thing, and we might need to learn how to be late.
I don’t know where we were headed two years ago after we stopped to get gas and saw the prostitute. I’m not sure if we were on time or if we were late, but I still remember her and the opportunity we missed in listening to the nudge of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not schedule ourselves so much that we miss the opportunities that pass in front of our eyes. Let’s open up our lives for the glorious interruptions that God brings our way.
Sharon Morginsky is a mom of four young kids and a church planters wife in a very diverse and transitional part of the city of Denver (Grace and Peace Denver). She has her Masters in Social Work and has a deep passion for racial reconciliation and healing of economic disparity. In her free time she enjoys being a doula, gardening, hiking, writing, and is currently learning how to play the ukulele.