In high school, I was way over-scheduled. I was busy every night of the week- with good things! I was working, leading bible studies, helping plan campus ministries and events, and sometimes even doing homework. There was nothing wasteful I was doing with my time- it was all purposeful and meaningful, but my schedule was just full.
The full schedule was something that I chose. I equated a full calendar with success- I was important because I was needed at all these different meetings every night of the week. I was doing something useful, so I had more value as a person. Something I missed out on, though, was friends. I did very little spontaneously. My ministry events were planned- Monday night, Tuesday morning, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday morning. I didn't grab a Coke at McDonald's afterschool with a friend to develop relationships or share my heart or listen for the afternoon- I had places to be. I had to get home after school so I could quickly eat dinner and move on to the next activity.
There was value in this- I learned how to manage events, plan details, and lead discussions. I can juggle a calendar pretty well. I remember once, there were 5 of us driven, busy teenagers on a leadership team for a campus ministry, that we had a planning meeting for the group at 9pm on a Friday night, because it was the only time between all our schedules we could find 2-3 hours.
I realize, now, though, I tend toward task rather than relationship, and relationships are the heart of God. There was no margin in my schedule, and God works in the margin times- when I leave room and time for him to show me unscheduled, unplanned opportunities. I have a spontaneous God.
In college, I learned my lesson (to an extent) and tried to cut back on activities. I knew better than to sign up for everything- but I still wasn't very spontaneous. I envy my sister, who, in the midst of wedding planning and finishing her last semester in college, has enough room in her schedule to take a 3-day weekend to go help with rebuilding efforts in New Orleans this weekend. If I had heard of an opportunity like that in college, I would have been excited about it, but would have done the boring, responsible, task-oriented thing and stayed home.
My husband, on the other hand, moves at a slower pace that I do. That's one of my favorite things about him. I need him to reign me in, to force me to slow down and rest and not plan every free minute of the week. I can handle way more planned activities than he can, and I've learned over the last year that its not necessary to be busy every weekend- even if the 'busy' things are good, family-oriented things. Slowly, I'm learning to appreciate rest, rather than allow everything I ought to or could be doing run through my head.
This weekend, we had margin in our schedule. We only had one get-together planned for Sunday, and nothing on Saturday. So, when we happened by the church Sunday afternoon and heard before the services started that there were a couple areas they needed help with , we were able to jump in and help, right there on the spot. There was no time-pressed stress related to taking on an unplanned activity for the afternoon & evening, and the only downside to it was eating a later dinner than expected. I was only able to serve because I left margin in my schedule, and was willing for God to alter my plans.
I'm still really, really bad at anything 'spontaneous' and 'unplanned', but I know that it's what my God is all about- surprising us with the ways he's working, and letting us get in line with it. I just have to remember to allow time for my spontaneous God.
At some point, I'll do an "In defense of Martha" post, the bible character I most relate to. For now, how do you create unplanned, 'margin' time in your week?