With everyone from CNN to Twitter crazy people reflecting on 2020 I can’t help but do the same. I should be offering up hope in a big fat bucket of joy. But that has been so hard, y’all! I don’t do interruptions and this year...well, you know. Can I share a few of my interruptions with you and what I am still learning?
I was still wallowing – or at least wading – in the grief of some big transitions in my life when January 1, 2020 rolled around. But that month was full of JOY as I had the best girlfriend trip EVER with friends up in Culpepper, Virginia. There was yummy food and shopping, sipping wine and all sorts of conversation with these women that I dearly love. FYI - If you happen to be decades older than some of your dearest friends, count yourself so very blessed! I learn from them every day!
February barreled in for my birthday – I love February and everything about it. No interruptions here... just loads of cake. I was spending lots of time preparing for my trip in March to Ethiopia with the Adera Foundation. I had never been there and was so excited to not be in charge of a trip like this having lead over 50 mission trips in the past. I thought it would sort of be a vacation...
March 2021 entered like a lamb for me. We kept hearing whispers of a global pandemic but I was headed to Africa. I guess I was ignoring them. What could stop my two-week trip? Interruption – We went along as planned the first week as we visited schools and blessed the women served by Adera. Then... yes, even in Ethiopia... the schools were closed. Covid 19 muscled in as the biggest interruption ever. The mission of the trip had to be tweaked the second week. Businesses and some restaurants were closed down and what should have been a smooth trip became a source of worry for my family here at home. My daughter picked me up at the airport - without her kids – warning me that things were serious. The kids weren’t going back to school. Yikes! BIG interruption. And everyone was concerned for Rick and me because of “our age.” Harumph!
Well – you each have your own list of interruptions. Mine also include cancelling my annual trip to Eswatini where I get to see my Bulembu and Young Life friends and serve the children. This summer I was going for three weeks! Marriage relationships within our extended family were “interrupted” by divorce. My mom had two of her grand kids experience the sadness accompanied by that interruption. My dear friend, S’the, heard God’s call to leave Young Life staff in Eswatini to pursue a different opportunity. Well, shoot! I had taken on a leadership responsibility on that team because I wanted to work with her. Another interruption in my plans. Birthdays and anniversaries – interrupted! I had worked hard to plan a small fund-raising event in our home for Young Life Fort Worth. We had the socially distancing all worked out – our back yard is huge! We were going to actually be able to pull this off. Interrupted. Not by Covid, but by rain.
My husband and I are in that season of life where we know that retirement is sooner than later and we had our entire last quarter of the year planned around his income. Interrupted. Work and income stopped for him as businesses pared down. I have been interrupted at least ten times today trying to write this blog!
We can learn a little from our computer geek friends. According to Wikipedia: In digital computers, an interrupt is a response by the processor to an event that needs attention from the software. My lesson? Interruptions need attention. Ignoring the interruption is ignoring an alert in our day or year – an alert to our soul’s software system.
2020 has said “What are you paying attention to?” What are the red flags that require my attention? How am I treating the most important relationships in my life? How do I respond when my plans are shelved? Do I lean into the irritability that I feel? Or do I trust in a greater plan? There are interruptions that occur because of God’s kindness. Do I see extra time as a gift? Or do I begin to fill it up with activity to keep me from healing my soul with solitude and silence? Are those I love suffering because of my response to the interruptions? Do I try to control the circumstances and the people I love to bend to my own plans? Or do I try accept the uncontrollable outcomes and receive the gifts that come along?
Jesus is always my go-to example for practical living. To see how he handled a day of interruptions read Mark 5 – any translation will do. Spoiler alert. He handles the entire day will compassion and kindness – curiosity and confidence.
My blessing for you in this new year: May 2021 be a year of enough interruptions for you to learn to instinctively pay attention to what you are paying attention to.