Lent is here again (I know shocker, you’d think it was every year 🙂 ). Once again, I’m doing lent rather differently and entering into the spirit of generosity by following 40 acts. Last year I blogged a lot of my 40 acts (not every day) and they’re really worth a look – they start here. The acts this year are along a similar theme, I’d really recommend giving the challenge a go.
Today’s challenge was something that really struck a chord with me as it was about punctuality. The opening line of the challenge – “Lateness without genuine reason (emphasis mine) says “I’m more important than you.” This was one challenge that really did make me feel good – because I’m usually the one stood waiting. I’ll tell you something about myself; I’d rather be an hour early for something than even one minute late. I know, that’s more than a bit OCD, but I’ve come to accept it. This is why I’d rather have an exhausting drive than get a train where I am not in control of how late it’s going to be. To me, it’s simply a sign of respect to the other person that I a) keep my word and b) honour the time they’ve given up by being punctual.
One thing I must remember though is to not be judgemental or “tut” when someone else is late – because although I feel it is disrespectful, they may not have the same feeling about time. If time is not their most precious commodity, they’re not going to be bothered about it being wasted – and so I should be gracious and patient in my waiting.
But just think about this when you’re making someone wait – how every time there’s a step on the pavement, every time a car drives past, every time the door opens on the cafe and you’re not the one who steps through – that’s a hope raised and dashed. And I know that people have children who need to get ready – but honestly, I’ve found those friends are going to be late whether the children are there or not, often they’re even later when they don’t have the kids – a strange phenomenon that if anyone out there can shed any light on would be great, thanks. (I think it’s because they are so excited at the freedom from the children that they get carried away and just take longer to do things because they’re not having to nag everyone to hurry up all the time – which I think is rather lovely, and I would always have a lot of patience with someone in this position).
One more thing – There is a family I know who are renowned for running everywhere, running to the airport, getting to the railway station just in time for the train to Harry Potter Studios, rushing to the cinema, hurrying on to a restaurant. And I find it oddly endearing. And I would happily wait for any of them, because I love them. But to be constantly just in time like that for me, would drive me out of my wits. But that’s it, it would drive me out of my wits, but totally works for them. Yes, we’re all different. And that’s what’s most important to remember when it comes to choosing the way of generosity, choosing the way of “you first”, of denying yourself. So those of us to whom time is important and to whom deadlines matter, keep those good habits, but be patient and gracious with those we have to wait for. And why not experiment with taking your time once in a while – try not looking at your watch for a whole day (it’s harder than you think) and don’t beat yourself up if you happen to be late because of bad traffic or a detour, or because you stopped to makes someone smile. And those who make folks wait, or leave everything to the last minute, just imagine the time someone has given up to spend time with you, and give honour to that by at least trying to be punctual – why not set your watch five minutes fast? If you’ve said you’re going to do something, do it straight away – the peace you find of having done it on time with time to spare – that’s then the point to put up your feet and relax. Just picture yourself, relaxing at a railway station reading a book (yes, you’ll find you actually have time to read books in those “waiting” times – bonus!) and yes, that peace can be real.
I simply can’t imagine Jesus ever making someone wait – but I also can’t imagine him pointing at his watch after waiting for someone for two hours. Wouldn’t he just simply smile and hug you?
So I’ll still be as punctual as I can be (crashes on the A1 notwithstanding) and will always wait for you, not matter how long.