I've have several such encounters of my own. More than a decade ago, John Livoni talked with me about joining the Physicians Resource Council. He explained the work and committment that would be involved. "You have a full plate," he said. "You need to decide whether there is room on the plate for this or not." As our discussion continued, the suggestion was made that I put my "plate" at the foot of the cross and see what God decided to do. My tendency is to fill my life to the brim with activities I enjoy until I'm completely overloaded. Time and time again, I've had to say, "Is there room on my plate for this?" Time and time again, I've had to take my "plate" to the cross. Years later, that conversation is as fresh as the day we spoke because of the impact it made.
A few years before, I was busy traveling and speaking in addition to being a mom, running a small farm, and practicing medicine. Brad Beck and I were talking in the hall during a break in a meeting and he asked, "Where is the margin in your life?" Margin, in case you don't know, is the room around the edges of your "have to" that leaves room for God to work. That question stuck with me when I went home, and I found that major changes were needed. Once more, I'm asking myself Brad's question again.
When Ryan and I were in the Bahamas, we enjoyed several long leisurely meals. The service was much slower than that to which I was accustomed, but the food was lovely when it arrived. The wait allowed time for conversation. It also forced me to slow down a bit and enjoy my meal. My sweet cousin Christy Lee explained, "We are on Bahamas time". After I returned home and jumped back into my busy schedule, I've longed for Bahamas time. It's caused me to eat slower and converse more. I'm hoping that will also be an impact that lasts.
Chanel was one of the students in the class to which I spoke at the College of the Bahamas. I don't remember the exact wording, but one of the things she hoped for was that people (especially church people) would recognize her as a trained professional musician. Music is her livelihood. If she doesn't get paid, she won't be able to cover her expenses. She is happy to donate services on occasion, but it's not really fair to expect her do everything for free. She wanted the option to give her services, but not always be expected to do so. She wanted to be respected for her hard work and training. I understand that more than most. I've thought repeatedly about what Chanel said, and it has caused me to see students in a little different light. Respect. Almost everyone appreciates being treated with respect.
The Legend is very health conscious. He exercises by riding his bike fifty miles several days a week. "What kind of bike do you ride?" I asked. An expensive one, it turned out. "Well that should make it easier," I said. Really, why have a piece of equipment, expensive or not, that doesn't make the job easier? "Easy? It's never easy!" he exclaimed. He's right. Hard jobs are just that. Hard. There may be joy in the journey. There may be fun along the way. It's pretty rare, (if not impossible) though to find a tool that turns manual labor into an easy task. Sometimes the job is just hard. Somehow, the bike riding has stuck in my mind. Lately, I've had some hard tasks that I didn't much enjoy. It helped me stay the course to remember that "hard is just hard" and I need to keep going until I'm done.
The issue that concerns me most is not the impact others have on my life. The question is what kind of impact am I having? Do my words have such power and truth that they linger for decades? Am I sowing good and not evil into the lives of others with my words? Are you?
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24 NASB)