Life is pretty crazy sometimes, isn’t it?
Mine certainly is anyway, and I’m guessing yours is too.
Perhaps especially after a year like 2020, haha.
Oddly enough, I never experienced this thing called ‘boredom’ that some people dealt with last year. While many events outside home were canceled, staying inside kept me just as busy. One of the perks of homeschooling is that my family has never needed to have ‘snow days’ or anything of the sort. Life continued full steam ahead.
And it continues. So far in 2021, it’s grown even more busy as outside events are added back into the schedule – in addition to the things I was already working on. And it’s been a bit stressful at times. This weekend has been the first time since January that I’ve gotten to slow down a little and try to catch up on things. Holiday weekends are such blessings.
Amidst the hectic schedule and constant race to stay on top of life’s demands, I’ve been noticing something much more than I did previously – which is how much I appreciate when people aren’t in a hurry.
Yes, that probably sounds hypocritical. But I think it’s because I see such a difference between my own behavior and that of certain others. I’ve been reminded lately of how important it is to remain available.
In all kinds of ways. To talk, to listen, to offer advice, to visit, to help…it all comes down to having the time and the willingness to do those things. But when our days are packed full and our schedules are spilling over, then how are we supposed to do them?
I struggle with this. Especially because I’m not just ‘busy’ with my own hobbies and fun activities. If I start cutting things out, it will quickly mean I’m not working, or helping my family, or similar good things. And at the same time, I know I’ve missed opportunities to be there for people that need it.
Where’s the balance? No person can be there for everyone. It’s impossible. We’re to reach out to those God calls us to, and to serve the people God lays on our hearts. But what if we’re not available enough for even them? And how are we supposed to know who’s who?
Over the past few months, as I’ve been hyper-aware of how some other people make themselves available to others, I’ve grown to appreciate them so much more. It’s not that they’re not busy – on the contrary! – but they’re also willing and open to God directing them in a different path than they’d planned.
And I’ve realized that it’s often the little things that make such a big difference.
I’m someone who appreciates quiet quality time with one person far more than energetic time with lots of people. I love people in general of course, and I still enjoy interacting in groups of them. But at the end of the day, or when I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed, I’d much rather enjoy a calm conversation with someone I know well.
When someone is willing to slow down or stay late and be with me longer, it means a lot. It communicates that they really care. And it shows that – even though I know they have plenty of other things they could or perhaps should be doing – they value me more highly. It’s extremely humbling, and I remember each of those instances for a long time.
Some of the most meaningful, touching conversations I’ve ever had couldn’t have happened if either of us had been in a rush to get to the next thing. If we hadn’t had those few extra moments to offer one another. And while I don’t believe I’ve offered much, those people and those conversations have certainly been huge blessings to me.
But not just conversations. When there’s time for them, that’s wonderful of course. But something as small as a compliment, a smile, or an encouraging email or text mean so much. And I’ve found that there’s really no excuse for not offering those things.
A bad habit I’m currently trying to break is believing that unless I have a huge chunk of time to offer, I don’t have any time at all. But that’s just not true! Lately, I’ve been trying very hard to be intentional about seizing even a couple of scattered minutes throughout the day to reach out to people.
While waiting for dinner to cook, I can do a puzzle with my sibling. When I have a few extra minutes after an event, I can stay and help clean up. During my lunch hour at work, I can text a friend and let them know I’m thinking of and praying for them.
For me, it’s not always cutting out things, but redeeming the time I already have. Because despite all the things I have going on, I’ve found that there are still a lot of opportunities I’ve disregarded or wasted on things that don’t matter. Distractions are everywhere and boy am I prone to focusing on them…
And when needed, I’ve cut things out, too. Like back in April, when I allowed myself to sign up for half a dozen writing projects/challenges, in an already packed month of work, family, and other obligations. They were all things I’d enjoy, but I quickly discovered that the stress and brimming workload just weren’t possible. While I did manage some of them, thankfully I was able to drop out of the rest without harming any of the other participants.
Learning a valuable lesson in the meantime, I might add. I’m probably still doing more than I should be, but I am trying to improve at only taking on what’s realistic, and what still allows me to time to be available for the people around me.
Because in the end, nothing is more rewarding than knowing you were there for someone when they needed you. To listen, to chat, to offer your own experience, or to simply give them a genuine hug. Maybe they were in need of a meal, or someone to help them clean, or do yardwork – and you had time to help them. There’s so much joy to be found in that.
And as for knowing who we’re meant to be available for – since it’s just impossible for one person to be there for everyone – that’s something I have yet to figure out entirely. The best I know, and perhaps it’s all I need to know, is that God knows exactly which people need our love. He knows when, how, and who we’re meant to be available for. Our role is to focus on listening to His guidance – and not be afraid to act on the nudges we feel.
The times I’ve felt God nudge me, and when I’ve then set other things aside to be there for others, have been the times when I’ve heard I was able to bless them most. God was able to work through me and impact their lives, and as far as I can tell, there is no greater feeling than knowing we’ve been used by God to bring light. To bring peace, love, and hope.
Most of the time, we may not even hear that we made a positive impact on others. But if we’re following God’s guidance, we can be sure that He’s working through us for good.
It’s a delicate balance…doing the things we need to do, and also making room to be available and present in others’ lives. I’ve definitely not figured out the right one yet. But I’ve seen God work in amazing ways through the smallest and most impromptu moments – and I want to be in on that. I want to not merely be on the receiving end of their love, but on the giving side too.
Are you the same way? Do you want to find that balance, and be available for those around you?
Then please know that I’m praying for us both today.
Praying that we’d be listening for God’s voice, that we’d be open to hearing Him, and that we’d be willing to do whatever He asks.
Praying that we’d know when and how to make ourselves available to the people around us…the people that so desperately need a helping hand, an honest smile, and a meaningful conversation.
Praying for us to be more and more like Jesus, who responded so full of grace and compassion to everyone who needed Him, even when He was interrupted or weary.
And praying that we’d never stop striving to be a blessing everywhere we are.
In Jesus’ name,
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…
(Philippians 2:3-5a NIV)
1.I talked about what I’m learning about rest, here.
2. I wrote about reaching out to others, here.