By Beth Ann Olesen
Ask anyone who knows me: I am a planner. I think through every second of every day hours, days, sometimes weeks in advance (and often at 3:00 in the morning). I have backup plans for backup plans, and I try to maximize time and efficiency in all things.
While this trait can be a strength, oftentimes it becomes an obsessive attempt to exert control over the unknowable. It rarely allows space and time for deviations, which ends in frustration and impatience when life inevitably does not go according to my carefully crafted plans.
And God, in his infinite wisdom and gentleness, usually uses these instances as a reminder that He is in fact in control, and that it is a good thing that His plans are not mine, because mine are usually selfish and shortsighted. What we see as life’s inconveniences are God’s divine interruptions to remind us to seek His will.
The other day we had to make an emergency after school run to Target. This is a situation I try to avoid at all costs. To start, I have three small humans who are hungry and exhausted and no longer wish to be confined. There are also other tired people who are not interested in me almost hitting them with my unwieldy child-saturated cart and a half, even if it prevents my little ones from running wildly and freely down the aisles. I was inconvenienced. My plan for the afternoon had been changed. I was cranky and frustrated.
As I stood in the middle of an aisle refereeing what felt like the thirtieth argument in just as many seconds, another mom rounded the corner. She had a toddler and a newborn and was, as we all have done, trying to fit all of her goods in the space under the stroller to prevent having to also push a cart. She was holding a glass bottle and it slipped from her hand. Sauce spilled onto her hands, her clothes, and the floor. She looked up, her eyes pleading and filling with tears. I offered her a smile, having been there so many times myself.
I took tissues and hand sanitizer from my purse and gave them to her for her hands. Another woman stopped and offered her baby wipes to clean the floor. I watched her children while she went to find an employee to clean up the glass. She apologized and thanked everyone profusely, and we all went on our way.
I could have seen the additional time it took to help this woman as an inconvenience. But God used it as a divine interruption: a way for me to show His kindness and compassion to someone else, and to remind me that mistakes happen and they aren’t the end of the world. It affirmed that it is not only okay but necessary to slow down, to take a breath, to find a moment of connection with another.
Psalm 94:11 reads, ”The Lord knows all human plans; He knows they are futile.” Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
I have slowly (think tortoise pace) begun to take time to see these disparities between my plans and reality as opportunities for me to notice and reflect on God’s hand in my day-to-day activities. They provide space for humility, peace, and joy that I would have otherwise missed. They call me to receive and give His love. There is never inconvenience in that.