She always wants something. When I say always, I mean like all the time. Little things, big things, in between things. Always wants something. And more often than not, it’s something that takes quite a bit of time and effort on my part.
It’s a little bit of the nature of my job. I’m available. I’m glad to help (…usually). I have resources. I have access. I have “free” time.
My day usually includes many interruptions from various people asking for things from me. And these folks are sensitive of my time and job responsibilities, so their “needs” are usually easy ones. For instance:
“Beth, can you look up the number of the nearest pizza place?”
“Beth, is there any way you can print off my new patient forms from my doctor’s website?”
“Beth, do you think we could change the flowers on the centerpieces in the dining room?”
“Beth, the wreath on my door fell apart. Any way you can glue it back together?”
…I’ll be glad to!
Those interruptions are ones I can handle. Those requests are ones I don’t mind doing because I know I’m blessing someone who has a particular need or desire. Those things are fairly simple. And frequent. And usually pretty quick to accomplish.
But this one particular woman is an anomaly. She’s a challenge. As soon as I walk in the door, she magically appears…wanting something. I know if I engage her in conversation, my self-imposed 3-minute-limit to a conversation will easily turn into 13 minutes, or maybe even 30. I almost dread seeing her. Simply put, she can wear me slick with her frequent interruptions and requests.
I know what you’re thinking. “Beth don’t let her take advantage of you.” Or maybe, “Beth, if she’s intruding or getting in the way of you getting your job done, then you’ve got to say something to her.” Or perhaps, “Beth, don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to this woman.”
And I’d agree with you. And believe me, I’ve said and done all those things.
I’m a big Henry Cloud fan. I’ve read several of his books. In Boundaries, he talks about how homeowners set physical property lines around their land, and how we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what our responsibility is and what it isn’t. I certainly buy into all those things. And with this woman, I’ve “put up fences” here and there.
But I’m also a big fan of Jesus. I’ve read a lot about Him. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve camped out in the Sermon on the Mount for the better part of a year now. In Matthew 5:41-42 (NIV), Jesus says, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” In the Message Translation (which is what I’ve used to study the Sermon on the Mount this last year or so), it reads this way, “And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”
Go two miles instead of one. Don’t turn away. Practice the servant life. Live generously. What a mission! What a challenge!
Servant life? Yes.
Which weighs heavier—boundaries or blessing? Which is more important—protecting or providing? Which is more like Jesus?
How many times do you suppose Jesus was on a mission to do something or go somewhere or accomplish something, but got distracted by someone else’s need? How often was He interrupted? How frequently did His agenda get rearranged or derailed by somebody’s request?
He said, “…be generous with your lives.” (Matthew 5:16)
He said, “Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:48)
He said, “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” (Matthew 7:12)
When I get interrupted by this woman, I find myself wanting to use Henry Cloud’s book as an excuse (or a crutch) for not helping her. But then I’m more convicted that I should use Jesus’ example to actually help her.
I’m a work in progress…don’t interrupt me.