It seems like a good notion on the surface, and I get where he is coming from. And in a true emergency situation, it makes sense to drop everything and run to the aid of a friend. Yet, I can’t even do that as a midwife. Not unless there is someone to come to the birth and take over for me. The only way I could legitimately neglect my calendar in decision-making would be if a) I were single, had a nine-to-five job (or no job at all), and no outside commitments, or b) I had only one friend to consider. This quote makes no real, practical sense to me, and seems to reflect an overly romanticized view of what friendship is supposed to look like. I don’t know anyone who can live like this with any kind of consistency.
Not without alienating their family.
The only people for whom I might neglect to consult my calendar are my husband and children, who have far more right to my calendar space than any friend ever could. If I had no friends, I would still be wife and mother to these precious beings, and they need me first.
I keep as accurate a calendar as I can, and frankly, I still struggle with having to back out of plans because I did not consult my calendar before agreeing to something. My friends and family suffer as a direct result of my inconsistency at times, so if I don’t “find time” on my calendar for someone, I am very likely to let someone down in a most atrocious manner. I have to be rather legalistic about my calendar in order for anyone to be able to count on me for anything, ever. And even my calendar is no guarantee, because of the work I do.
Being on call 24/7, nearly 365 days a year is an exhausting schedule. And it’s even harder on my friends at times. (One of my friends has decided that midwives’ friends need their own support group. I heartily agree.) So, the calendar must rule all. Or no one gets any of me.
Sigh. And there go the gears turning in my brain…
On the other hand, if I look at the intention and spirit motivating the quote (which is more important than the actual words), wouldn’t it just express a general desire to put people ahead of schedules? And isn’t that a big part of what loving my neighbor ought to look like? Isn’t that what Jesus did all the time? He constantly allowed interruptions, because to him, they were the heart of his work. He didn’t consider them interruptions at all, really. They were divine appointments he had to keep.
He commanded that kids be allowed to come to him. He made it a point to meet the blind men on the side of the road, when others were trying to shut them up. He let Mary worship him by washing his feet and anointing him in the middle of a dinner party. He stopped everything to speak to the woman who had the issue of blood. He went out of this way to heal Jairus’ daughter, and on his way, healed the servant of a centurion with a word. He always had time.
I don’t, though. Why is that? Am I too wrapped up in myself? Or am I expecting too much of myself, considering the fact that I am not actually Jesus?
Of course, Jesus lived a much simpler life in many ways. He had no home to speak of. No wife. No children. No homeschooling plans, activities, no regular job. Nothing that would tie him to any particular schedule, except the one that lead in the end to the Cross. And elsewhere in scripture, we are told that if we fail in taking care of our immediate family first, we are worse than unbelievers, and are in sin. So, where does that leave a modern, suburban, homeschooling, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and student midwife?
How do I balance the very clear need to consult my calendar in order to make time for the relationships that matter most to me, and being available to love, accept, listen to, and help people, no matter when they cross my path? Where is the line between meeting my God-given responsibilities to my family, and those divine appointments I didn’t plan for?
I guess it’s not wise to be legalistic about anything, really. As my pastor likes to say, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will be used by God.” I suppose it’s best for me to be wise in the administration of my time, including keeping a calendar diligently. But I need to make sure I am using the calendar to benefit others, not myself. So that I can be a woman of my word, reliable and dependable for those whom God has placed in my life, from my family and friends to my colleagues and clients. On top of that, I must be willing to see “interruptions” as divine appointments, and to honor God by making way for people who need me in a moment that God foresaw, even if I didn’t.
Now that I think about it, I think it boils down to simply letting my “Yes” be yes, and my “No” be no. Calendar or no calendar. And staying sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. To keep the calendar, but understand that its agenda belongs wholly to God, and to depart from it once in awhile is not a bad thing at all.
I’m trying. Dear God, am I trying!
What do you think about this quote? What is your favorite friendship quote?
Grace & Peace