Will the Real Life Please Stand Up?

I’m reading an excellent book called Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters (the Girl Talk bloggers), and I was really struck by a quote they used by C.S. Lewis:

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: what one calls ones “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.

As a Type A person who likes to be in control, I so often rebel against the little interruptions and frustrating rabbit holes of life. I tend to get impatient with things that crop up, instead of seeing them as opportunities to serve God and my family. Many times I end a day discouraged by the number of things that didn’t get crossed off of my To Do List, rather than focusing on the valuable investments I made in the lives of my family and friends.

It strikes me that parenting is mostly about the interruptions. You can’t add a spot in your day planner ahead of time for “comfort 15 month old who unexpectedly cuts three molars in one day” or for “spend 20 minutes cuddling 2 and a half year old who has ‘lost her hug’ again” or for “have tea party with children so we can ‘practice our birthdays’ together” but these are the little things that give children comfort and security and the confidence that they are loved and important to us. Likewise, it’s tough to know at the start of the day how much time it will take to lovingly and patiently and consistently train a toddler to be a little kinder to her siblings or that he shouldn’t put Daddy’s iPod in his mouth when he’s been told not to, but those are little habits of training that will bear much more fruit later on than eschewing them in favor of a freshly mopped kitchen.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with having a schedule or a plan, or that we shouldn’t take our household responsibilities seriously. Rather, I see it as a good reminder to myself that more often than not my oh-so-critical To Do List needs to take a back seat to the unexpected and unplanned for, but God-ordained tasks and opportunities that form the real life God has laid out for me.

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