“I Try to Take One Day at a Time, but Sometimes Several Days Attack Me at Once” is the title of a book by Ashleigh Brilliant. It’s a sentiment I often feel: too overwhelmed by the present to find the time for things that matter. Often it puts me at a distance from God, who always seems to get whatever scraps are left over instead of being the main focus in my life.
I illustrate and design for a living, which often makes people think I have a job that’s akin to watching cartoons all day. I don’t know if they believe it’s actually the computer that does all the work or fancy it’s like being a professional doodler.
Unfortunately it’s often the opposite, filled with nearly impossible deadlines, clients who are incapable of being pleased and a maddening juggling act in which dozens of projects are always up in the air at any given time.
And those are the good weeks, when I don’t get the email of doom. You know the one. It usually begins with “I really thought I sent this to you two weeks ago, but apparently I didn’t.” Often it goes on to talk about “needing it by morning” and profuse apologizing. Those are the weeks where I question pretty much everything. It brings another of Brilliant’s sayings to mind: I feel much better, now that I’ve given up hope.
So there I was, having a busy week, knowing I was going to have a busy weekend. I’d promised my daughter I’d take her to a father/daughter dance, and I’d obligated myself for planning a meal for 80-100 people through a local program called Sunday Suppers. It’s a coordinated effort between 5 churches that offers a free meal for anyone needing one with an emphasis on preparing healthy meals, often in concert with local farms.
With the way the week was shaping up, knowing my whole weekend was shot really wasn’t setting well with me. Some of my Facebook friends have been on vacation and I found myself wishing I was out just having fun instead of taking more weight onto my shoulders.
From almost out of nowhere I had a friend of mine offer some food from their restaurant. A little bit later I had another friend who had received produce from a local organic farm. And it started snapping me out of thinking about myself and how poorly my week had been going. I mean, here were these people who surely have their own issues to deal with and they stopped long enough to think about the meal, so why was I letting work get in my way?
Suddenly it was like a revelation hit me: rather than finding even less time for God, I found myself surprised to be confronted by him instead. It’s as if God has transmutated into my problems, making me realize he was likely there all along whether I had time to address him or not. It made me aware that God doesn’t necessarily come to us in joyful ways, but perhaps in ways that we need to hear him through.
At the father/daughter dance I was reminded what an amazing daughter I have and what a delight it is that – at least for the time being – she not only wants to dance with me, but thinks I hung the moon. Instead of the evening being simply a block of hours spoken for, it turned into an opportunity to talk with good people and teach my daughter some of those ballroom dance moves I learned in college.
Then came the preparing and serving of the Sunday Supper and I was reminded what amazing people I have surrounding me not only in my church but in other churches in our community. I got to sit down and eat with people who came out even though the weather was threatening tornadoes and talk with them.
But the biggest surprise was I wasn’t thinking about work, I was pondering how the Spirit works through us and our families and our communities. And even after several hours of sweating in a hot kitchen I found that I wasn’t tired, but just as refreshed as I imagined I might be if I had been on vacation.