The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Feel free to call me Sheryl Interrupted.
I have dozens of brightly colored Post-Its, an ‘In Progress’ folder on my flash drive, and an iPhone ‘Notes’ app all flooded with words that are lovely poems-in-waiting. Additionally, the productive routines that I regularly attempt to establish always stop just short of habit due to some random unforeseen circumstance. And more than once I’ve stood startled as slammed doors rattled the pictures I’d hung on the walls of my heart and made cruel echoes in the hollow hallways of my life.
Now that Dr. King’s brought it to my attention, I suppose each of our lives is a series of plans, merged with an outsider’s unwelcome spontaneity, that somehow lead us to our fate. Therefore, the sooner we learn to recover from disruption, the more likely we are to maintain our present joy and ultimately ensure these impediments do not derail our destiny.
While there are many ways we approach interruptions, a common and harmful tendency is to allot more time than necessary to address the matter. The poem Dr. King mentioned can often be written after the person who knocked at the door has departed. However, if you’re like me, you will use that distraction as an excuse to take a break. Before you know it, you’ve blown an additional hour. Oftentimes the disturbance is short-lived and we simply need to have the discipline to pick up where we left off.
Then there are the bigger matters, disruptions that uproot our entire worlds. We cannot simply get back to work or life without acknowledging that some part of us is now broken. These repairs to the body and soul cannot be rushed. However, the problem still tends to be the amount of time we take to recover. Except in these instances, we often prolong our recovery period because we mistake the interruption for an ending.
While drafting our life stories, we must realize that an interruption is a comma, or at worst a semi-colon. It is never a period. As a new song from The Floacist and Raheem DeVaughn recently reminded me, “sometimes we need a place to start again.” The interruption is necessary because without it, we would never pause to consider our greater purpose. Absent interruptions, some of us would never have a new beginning.
Even in their necessity, I appreciate that Dr. King acknowledged interruptions as “costly.” They do, indeed, cost us. A lot of time, pride, and love, a little hope, peace, and happiness.
Thankfully, you reap what you sow. God would not ask us to pay the price of an interruption without giving us something in return – maybe a double portion of joy, a stronger faith, a testimony to fuel a new dream, restoration of an earlier loss. Or likely, a blessing “exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think” in order to eventually make that interruption seem less like a stopping point and more like a stepping stone.
Interruptions are a fact of life. It is easy to allow them to distract, paralyze, or intimidate us. But if we take the harder route, if we accept them as an opportunity to start again, we are destined to write a beautiful ending.
(Photo courtesy of Stock Photos Images)