Laying down with my boys tonight at bedtime, my older son mentioned that his cracked toenail kept snagging on the bedspread. So I got up to get Big Brother a band-aid. And bedtime was a little interrupted. Cooking supper once, I stopped stirring at the stove to untangle a piece of yarn from a toy truck lifted up to me by a pair of little hands. I’m sure most supper prep is interrupted, but this one time I remember the details. Working on meal plans and grocery lists, I might be interrupted to observe and appreciate a LEGO creation or to find a new roll of toilet paper or to replace the towel rod that fell off the bathroom wall. Home school lessons have been interrupted when a vase of little wildflowers on our table tipped over and spilled water onto papers and books. One consistent theme in the life of a parent is interruption.
But what if we changed how we look at interruptions? What if we flipped our perspective of them? C.S. Lewis wrote, “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
I could stop there. Just finish this post right there and let us go away and chew on that quote. But I had some other thoughts about interruption, about viewing them differently than annoyances and inconveniences. About embracing them as the real life that is being sent to us day by day.
Interruptions reveal to me the state of my heart. When I get interrupted by my children–or by a phone call or by a slow person in the fast lane–how do I respond? With frustration, with huffing and puffing about not being able to get any work done? And if so, what does this indicate about my own spirit? Entitlement. An attitude that declares I deserve better, that I deserve to flow through life without people slowing me down and dragging me away from my important work.
Interruptions reveal to me my true priorities. Which do I value more: productivity or presence? Being with my family, loving my family, or accomplishing tasks for my family? Interruptions show me what I’m loving more in that moment; they show me where I’m finding life and a sense of fulfillment–either in getting stuff done or in accepting whatever God brings into my life. Traffic that makes us late to a dentist appointment or a leaky washing machine that turns laundry into an all-day chore–God is in all of it, and I can meet Him there in it. Perhaps we can change our perspective on interruptions to see them more as invitations: invitations to experience God’s strength for whatever we need in that moment, to let struggles produce patience. To develop our character by learning the hard way.
There’s really no other way to develop it, after all.