I make my first post in some time by simply observing both the pros and cons of adding some structure to one’s life.
I am, by nature, someone who prefers to be very organized, but as of late I have been feeling rather unorganized and not like I am able to fit in what I really want to do and what matters to me. So I took some time this week to look at my life and plan to make room in my schedule for everything I feel is important at least once a month, from volunteering to cultivating friendships outside of the church; from spending time with my wife and family to making room for school work.
Now, few people would say there is anything wrong with that, except perhaps the extreme Bohemian types who prefer to live as free spirits, flying wherever impulse should take them. But this is where my perfectionist tendencies come out. I suddenly felt the need to schedule everything — date night on Mondays, homework on Tuesdays, dinners with parents and in-laws on alternating Sundays, dinner with pagan neighbours on Fridays, and so on and so forth. Seeing me gripped by my mania, my wife looked over and says, “You know you don’t have to schedule everything, you know”
There is in life a precarious (and sometimes seemingly impossible) balance between scheduled activities and having the flexibility to respond to those things that God unexpectedly puts in our way, or simply taking some time to take care of the needs of those closest to us. Some people may default to either side of the spectrum — either nothing ever gets around to being done, or interruptions of one’s incessant busyness throws a person off balance. And for those who are tempted to schedule things to the extreme (organization and purposefulness is good, rigidity is bad), a spiritual lesson needs to be learned. Ultimately, the Lord is the one in control of our lives, not us, and so we need to feel the freedom to let go of the steering wheel and vacate the driver’s seat, even if that means taking half an hour to speak to a distressed friend on the phone, not enrolling in that curling league, or having the occasional meeting run 15 minutes over-time. Someone once told me that John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re out making plans.” Whether it was Lennon or not, there is some truth to that, aptly summed up in the old proverb: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can be doing all the right things, but so locked into our schedule and bull-stubborn that we don’t know why we are doing it after a while. I would say it’s better to be purposeful and committed to a few things rather than madly rushing around trying to do everything you think you should do but without love in your heart. Where is God for you in the mix? How does he enter into your life? Is every second of every day planned, so that you can’t hear God among all the noise of activity (and I’m not talking about scheduling a 30-minute devotional time in the morning)? Does your scheduling proficiency become a matter of pride, without which you would feel lost in the world?