Life with toddlers is full of “happy surprises” and “interruptions.” Sometimes it feels like I’m being tugged three different directions at once, all while trying to accomplish something.
Just this week I was trying to sort through baby clothes to give to a refugee mother from the Congo. I wanted to bless this woman and I wanted to get it done right that moment. Of course my kids were fighting and crying for me while I did this.
I was tired, I had a headache from the screaming, and I got fed-up.
Couldn’t they see that I was trying to serve someone?
After putting Shiloh down for his nap and finishing the task at hand, I was reminded of something I read by bestselling poet Ann Voskamp.
You love only as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced. Love is the willingness to be interrupted.
Interrupt comes from the Latin word interrumpere, meaning break into.
Love is the willingness to be broken into.
There are never interruptions in your day – only manifestations of Christ.
Your theology is best expressed in your availability and your interrupt ability – and ability to be broken into.
Our theology is best expressed in our hospitality. Hospitality us living broken-wide-open. Living like a roof, a door wide open, a gate destroyer. Right theology is ultimately hospitality that lives broken right open – with your time and your space and your heart.
Everyday you can do one thing that you wish you could do for everyone. We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.
Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
Those words were potent.
“We will be known for our actual fruit, on the intentions of our imaginations.”
I can have the best intentions in the world – to serve the poor and minister to the refugees. But if I do it without love it means nothing.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
You can only love as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced.
Love is the willingness to be interrupted.
How is my interrupt-ability?
How annoyed do I get when “inconvenienced” on a daily -even hourly- basis?
Will my family see the importance of the ministry or will they see the lack of love and patience in my reaction?
Love and patience are fruits of the Spirit. If my life doesn’t show evidence of these fruits, then I’m laboring in vain.
I’ve missed the point.
I’ve focused more on the result and trying to fix everything than I have on my own heart and intentions.
Besides that, I’m not just called to those outside my family.
My love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should begin with my family, not end with them.
My husband and children should get the first fruits of my Spirit fruits, not whatever’s leftover at the end of the day when I’m done and depleted.
Interruptions are a theme in Scripture. We have a God who is continually interrupting us – interrupting our routines, our patterns of inequity, the status quo. Abrahams’s life was interrupted. Moses’ life was interrupted. John’s life and my life were interrupted by the Spirit.
The gospels are stories of interruption after interruption. Jesus was at a wedding in Cana when his mother interrupted him and said “They have no more wine.” He had just stepped ashore in a region called Gerasenes when he was interrupted by the cries of a demon-possessed man. He was on his way to visit a sick child when a touch on his sleeve interrupted him and he felt the power go out from him. The incredible thing is that Jesus was always available and attentive to the interruptions and surprises, like someone who stops to fix a flat tire for a stranded motorist.
Jesus was never so fixed on his vision for the Kingdom that he missed the needs of folks right next to him. Sometimes Jesus even gets yelled at for stopping to hang out with kids. These days, he’d get in trouble at most churches for wasting time with washing feet and drawing in the dirt; afterall, there’s so much “meaningful” work to be done…like attending board meetings, raising funds for buildings, and sitting in on conference calls (wink)….
We love predictability. We don’t want anything to alter our course, even if we know there is something beautiful on the other end of the interruption. We’d rather just keep to the daily grind and the meaningless toil that is familiar and humdrum, rather than have our rhythms broken. Yet we have a God who is all about interrupting us.
Shane Claiborne, Follow Me to Freedom
I know there’s a balance.
I know self-care isn’t selfish.
But I also know that my ability to love goes directly hand-in-hand with my interrupt-ability.
There is massive room for improvement.
Who am I to decide what’s important?
Often God speaks and moves in the small things rather than the large things.
I don’t want to miss out on the true blessings of his Kingdom by because I was too caught up in the details – in the doing.
How often do I try to rush in and fix things when, in fact, all he’s asking me to do is to just be, to just listen, or to just pray.
This is something I must remind myself of constantly – especially as I have been volunteering with refugees.
I can’t fix everything for everyone, and that isn’t what he’s asking me to do.
Just be. Just listen. Just pray. Stop trying to fix everything. Be present. Be interrupt-able.
It isn’t always as complicated as we make it.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.