Today, I am thankful for days that refuse to follow dayplanners.
Each day, I carefully plan out the next one point by point, hour by hour in my tidy little green book. It’s safe. It’s convenient. It determines my day.
Only, except it doesn’t.
For starters, I woke up late this morning. I missed my morning shower, and along with it, the first ten minutes of class. The philosophy class I agreed to audit was not in the room I was told to visit. My counselor was sick today.
But these are minor things, besides the point. No one ever has a perfect day in which everything goes right. Do they? And if they do, I don’t know if I could say that I’m too jealous. Life would get a bit boring.
My life continued to diverge from my dayplanner when I got a phone call from my good friend Taylor. If you know Taylor at all, then you know that he is the kind of person that you can hang out with. But he is not the kind of person that usually calls just to hang out. I knew this, and part of me wanted to go back to my boring, comfortable schedule. I cringed, thinking about this commitment I had made last week with Taylor students. I was to go into town and help out with this afterschool program for troubled youth.
Last week, however, I wasn’t banking on Taylor calling. I wasn’t banking on life happening.
See, by sticking to my trusty dayplanner, I could have changed the life of little kids from broken homes “for Christ”, whatever that actually means, by serving them fruit punch and playing board games. But there was a little something in Taylor’s voice that made me toss the dayplanner aside. As Taylor asked me if I wanted to go catch some coffee, I stared at my Bible on my bookshelf, and thought about what the “Christian” thing to do would be.
Honestly, I’m still not sure what that is, but I paused, and said, “Sure. When can you pick me up?”
Maybe selfishness drove me. Maybe my love for coffee drove me. Maybe God put it in Taylor’s head to call me. I don’t know. Does it really matter?
Taylor and I talked and talked and talked. In-between his pauses, I looked for the Taylor who called me on the phone, the Taylor who had a lot on his mind, the Taylor who needed advice. But I didn’t find that Taylor at the coffeeshop. I found a Taylor with jokes on his lips; a Taylor who mocked this wasp he was trying to take pictures of for his Photography class. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little frustrated with the content Taylor sitting across from me.
I looked up at the clouds in the sky, and down at the clouds in my coffee. I began to wonder if Taylor’s phone call was divine intervention at all, or if it was just me being stupid enough to disregard kids who really needed my time. I began to wonder if God was shaking His head, or if there even was a God at all.
And then Taylor’s brother called.
Taylor flipped out. His brother wanted to borrow their van for the evening so he could visit his girlfriend. As Taylor got off the phone, and turned the keys in the ignition, the Taylor who called me came out. Not altogether. But a little bit. His insecurities about being single, about the future flowed out. I offered my all-too-similar worry and confusion. Teenage angst and the humid Upland air filled the interior as we drove back to campus. I searched for words, for advice, for convenient answers.
I didn’t find anything. So I decided to do something even more profound and groundbreaking, which was to spend time with Taylor. We walked to Upland’s only Pizza restaurant, which is one of the only three restaurants serving the ever-so-small Upland community. We had dinner, talked a bit more, and then did homework. As we did these things, I thought about what I would have done had I actually gone downtown to play with the little kids from broken homes. Would I have fixed their broken homes and answered all of their questions? Nope. I would have done nothing more than spend time with them. Which, is all any of us really want; what any of us really need.
Those kids didn’t need my time today. Taylor did.
As I pay progressively less attention to my not-so-authoritative dayplanner, I think I’m slowly, finally learning how to love a God who gets His way. Who shows me not what I’m looking for, but what I need in life. And it is for these reasons that I am thankful for distractions. For days that refuse to follow dayplanners. What are you thankful for today?