I am a planner. Through and through. I used to sink into major distress when something didn't go as planned or someone showed up late. I still have my moments, but for the most part it's just minor distress and a few curse words.
When I was in YWAM I quickly learned that I was only in charge of my time to a certain degree (those other YWAMers out there, can I get an Amen?). If they wanted us to eat breakfast at 7am then I'm probably going to be eating breakfast at 7am. I might curse at the cold Icelandic wind and lack of sun a bit, but if I wanted to eat…well lets just say they had leverage on me.
We went to Kenya for our outreach. For those of you who have been there or who have heard, the idea of "time" is kind of vague and more of just that: an idea. We called it "Africa Time" but I've never been anywhere else in Africa so it could be different elsewhere. What is "Africa Time" you ask? Well say you want to go to the bank or run a few errands or maybe meet a Kenyan friend for lunch; those things aren't guaranteed to happen. Your Matatu driver may see someone he knows walking on the side of the street and so he may stop and ask how said person's mother is doing. If you finally get to the set meeting spot for lunch on time, your friend might be an hour late.The bank may be closed by the time you get there and now you don't have money to run your errands. Basically what I experienced was a "set" time is normally a general idea and potentially means 2-3hours later. If you're starting to go into distress just reading this, then I'm sure you can imagine how my Type A brain was processing it all.
One day we were to go to a church in the slums - a part of the local organization we were working with. After getting picked up (nearly 2 hours later than the set time I might add) we sat in a very strange, VERY long church service. We played with the kids at the back for a bit before a few of us snuck out during what seemed like the LONGEST sermon EVER and danced with some of the slum kids. After the service, the woman leading us said, no joke, we will go visit two or TWELVE of the widows. I was already going into distress from the long service, not really knowing what to expect. It was a very strange experience where we all felt like we were being led on a tour more than we were given time to sit and visit and love on people. We'd stop by and be thanked for being in their home and then paraded on to the next. On I think about our seventh home Tyler mentioned that we needed to be getting back to our hostel and at our tenth home they were telling us to stay for sodas. We stayed. Then they offered one more round of sodas….and I just about lost it. Instead, I burst out laughing. This was all too funny to be in distress about. I mean I was in AFRICA in the slums. I may not have understood this particular organization's method, but I was happy to be there. The distress stemming from time and expectations (or lack there of) somehow just washed off as I sipped on my straw and laughed at the chaos of the day. We all did.
I remember that day often especially when the to-do list gets long and I feel like I'm drowning in dirty diapers and nap strikes. When I feel like I'm doing it all alone. Hubs is at work, working hard for our family and we are a team, yet when I can't see him, I forget. I begin feeling resentful, angry, unappreciated. Then Hubs comes home later then I thought he would. The frustration rises. Instead of a kiss he's greeted with "I could really use some help here!" yelled from the kitchen. And we just don't connect. I'm on the lookout for me and mine. I didn't stop to think of his day, and the small frustrations he might have had. Well, let's be honest he's so kind and calm if he had any they didn't get to him.
Anyway, all this happens UNLESS I take a a holy minute. I stop what I'm doing, consciously un-shrug my shoulders. Look up and say out loud "I choose joy." Then I can laugh at the chaos. Love the life I'm in and greet Hubs with a kiss and a "How are you?".
Choose joy. You'll be glad you did.