I received three telephone calls today that were not on my work calendar. The first call was early in the morning from my adult daughter, who just wanted to talk as she drove to work. Two were from friends with heavy hearts. One friend was in financial and relational distress, and called in the urgency of his situation. The other friend called as part of our weekly scheduled call at noon, but the call came at 12:30, as I was engaged in a work project. 

 I felt some irritation with the first call from my daughter. She tends to call when it is convenient for her, but not convenient for me. Her drive to work is her “free time” to talk. My “free time” does not coincide with hers. The other two calls came as I was hectically working on client projects, but I knew each call was not just a “chit-chat” occasion. 

 There is no “one way” to handle these kinds of interruptions of our daily plans. You hope you can catch the tone of voice, or probe a bit for information you can use to assess the urgency and need of the person’s reason for calling. One irritating but immutable reality is that our plans will never move forward without some interruption. Sometimes the “interruption” is God’s primary action plan for your day. 

 As I was writing this blog post, I was interrupted by a second call from my daughter. She just wanted to connect. It really didn’t matter what the subject might be. She missed her dad. I had 10 minutes to finish this posting before seeing my next client. The timing of her call was too obvious to ignore: I was being presented with a real time illustration of how our interruptions may be our primary purpose in the moment. When I answered her call, I explained I was right in the middle of a blog post on the topic of “interruptions.” “Is my call an interruption?” she asked. “No,” I answered, “Your call is the most important thing right now, in this moment.”  We talked of expenses, budgeting, and her dogs. We discussed how unprecedented is the current economy for most people, especially in her age group. All that chatter was secondary, as they say, “subtext.” Beneath the small talk was a sprit of listening in the middle of a busy day that communicated: “You have value.” She ended the conversation by saying “I love you more than Tucker loves sticking his nose in gopher holes.” [Tucker is her rambunctious puggle (half beagle, half pug)]. 

 I decided to give generous amounts of time during my work day to these “interruptions.” I could have politely reset a time to talk with each person, after expressing some warmth and patience in the opening “hellos.” That would have been fine. The approach depends on the circumstances. Boundaries are more like permeable membranes rather than castle walls. Today, I chose to immediately invest time and attention in three important relationships, sensing that giving my time and energy now was wiser than setting an appointment.

 My ‘success’ today was that I did not predefine my projects and schedule as the most important thing God had planned for me at that moment. I’m convinced life is more like improvisation than strictly scripted parts in a play. We are given situations, and life asks us: “How creatively can you respond to this challenge?” We write the script as we act out the scene. A new issue or problem arises, and we must work with the information and materials at hand. The possible outcomes are unlimited. Our choices will take us progressively into stories that tell of misery or happiness. Sometimes how you handle an “interruption” can be a critical plot point. Remain open to the possibilities, and write a happy ending.