Thursday, June 27, 2019

Maybe the Distraction is the Point

by Emily Conrad



I dedicated the day to working on blog posts. I had one overdue, and one (this one...) that was down to the wire. Despite my tendency to keep my schedule pretty open, I ended up with a lot of commitments this week, and I’d fallen behind. Last night, I recognized how distracted I felt, and I vowed I’d do better today.

I’d stay off the Internet! I’d write my blog posts!

But I wasn’t making the progress I’d wanted when I saw an old black lab sniffing the corner out my window.


I didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t on a leash, but he also wasn’t sprinting around like my dogs do when they get loose. Maybe I just couldn’t see his owner from my writing desk inside. I tried to focus, telling myself usually that type of thing is fine. The owner’s usually right there.

A few minutes later, the dog was back, and very obviously unattended. I abandoned my writing projects, my half-eaten lunch, and my own dogs to head outside. I wasn’t wearing shoes, and I didn’t bring a leash—if I lost sight of the stray, I might not find him again

Given his age and demeanor, I expected him to come when I called. Then, I’d call the number on his tags or dial the non-emergency police number, and someone would come pick him up. That was the plan, anyway.

Unfortunately, though greying, rather hefty, and slow-moving, the dog wasn’t as obedient as I’d expected. He glanced at me when I called to him, then continued down the sidewalk and around the corner.

I followed. He was headed toward a busy street, but he turned off onto someone’s front walk and went right up the steps to their door. I figured I’d followed him home, and his owners didn’t know he’d gotten out, so I knocked.

Turns out the house he liked so much wasn’t his, but the people there were nice. Not dog owners themselves, they had no way to contain the collarless dog, but they kept an eye on him while I went for supplies (and sandals).

About an hour later, as we continued to wait for the police to come for the dog, someone slowed on the road and asked out her window, “Is that my dog?”

Sure was. Turns out, their house was in approximately the same place as the house he’d picked—similar color, size, and layout, too—just one block over.

Once we reunited the dog with his owner, I returned home. My blog posts, still unwritten. Household tasks are piling up. I’m due at church for VBS in a couple of hours. I’ve had friends ask for help—friends I really want to help, friends I owe favors to—and have had to ask if they can wait while I take care of other responsibilities. I’m a little overwhelmed, and that is not a recipe for a thoughtful and moving blog post.

But maybe, as one of my friends pointed out in response to my request for prayer that I could focus, it's okay that I've run into distractions. Maybe, as she wrote, some of our "interruptions" are actually divine appointments. (You can meet this wise fellow writer, Amanda Wen, over on her site.)


Maybe, today, my priority needed to be on loving my neighbors by looking out for their dog.

Maybe, today, entertaining the kids at VBS with a skit is my true mission.

Maybe the friends I’ve messaged and emailed and talked with this week when I was “supposed” to be writing blog posts have needed those conversations more than I needed to stick to my schedule. Maybe I needed those conversations, too.

Maybe in the end, we’ll find that the "distractions" were some of the most important ways God used us to show His love to a hurting world.

Maybe, in that way, the distractions are the point.

I’m all for responsibility and planning and hard work. And yeah, I could do better at not getting pulled in by frivolous things and at anticipating the impact events like VBS will have on my schedule.

But there comes a point when we have to let go of our expectations and trust that God’s got us. Loving people well is more important than schedules.

When we’re surprised by how things have piled up on us, God’s grace is sufficient.

When one more unavoidable “distraction” wanders into view, requiring time and attention, God will supply all our needs in Christ Jesus. Even, it would seem, when what we need is a last-minute blog post.







Maybe in the end, we’ll find that the "distractions" were some of the most important ways God used us to show His #love to a hurting world. via @emilyrconrad #timemanagement

There comes a point when we have to let go of our #expectations and #trust that God’s got us. Loving people well is more important than schedules. via @emilyrconrad

When one more unavoidable “distraction” wanders into view, requiring time and attention, God will supply all our needs in Christ Jesus. via @emilyrconrad #loveoneanother

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Photo credits 
Dog laying down photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Dog standing photo by Henry Majoros on Unsplash
Dog sitting photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Graphics created on Canva.com

7 comments:

Mary A Felkins said...

I'm wholly convinced distractions are often a holy intervention that is meant to bless both me and the one (or dog) who's disrupted my agenda. Good that you put the care of God's creation over the need to spit out a bunch of words. Which...you inevitably accomplished and did so well! Thanks, Emily

Emily Conrad said...

Thank you, Mary! It was a good reminder not to write in my own power--the post would never have gotten done that way ;)

Gail Pallotta said...

Thanks for reminding us that some distractions are someone in need of our help. I'm glad the dog found you and in turn his owner!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Yep! I have a tweet that says... "Sometimes what we deem a disappointment (substitute with distraction) is actually a divine delay (substitute appointment)" :-)

Great post!
Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

Emily Conrad said...

Hi Gail! Yes, I'm glad the dog made it home, too. It's an awful feeling to have a dog wander off, and I imagine he wanted to go home, too :) Thanks for stopping by!

Pam, that saying does work both ways. Distractions and disappointments- everything is in God's control and he's working all things for the good of his children! Thanks for visiting today!

Erin Lorence said...

Loved your post--I felt like I was reading about my day! (VBS...dogs...my good intentions and then getting side-tracked by "distractions," such as running out in the road barefoot to invite my daughter's friends over when they get off the school bus to find out their parents aren't home. This is such a good reminder that those moments aren't me failing to meet all my self-made goals but that I'm setting aside my schedule for God's. And that's good! Also, great writing style. You get the reader hooked and keep them reading. Thanks again!

Emily Conrad said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who'll hurry out the door barefoot, Erin :) Thanks for reading!