What to do when life interrupts you

Last weekend, I was scheduled to run the Savannah ½ Marathon. I’ve never been to Savannah, and had planned a three-day weekend for the trip.

I left work on Thursday, and drove to Atlanta, the half-way point between Nashville and Savannah. I planned to stay the night there with a friend so I didn’t have to make the entire 8-hour journey on Friday.

Less than an hour after arriving at my friend’s, my cousin and race partner called. She had a death in the family that morning, and needed to cancel her trip. As a result, I chose to cancel the trip as well, and change my plans for the mini-vacation.

Photo by me, at Lookout Mountain

I’ve been reading Follow Me to Freedom by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins.

One of their discussions, about interruptions, stuck out to me.

“Interruptions are a theme in Scripture. We have a God who is continually interrupting us – interrupting our routines, our patterns of inequity, the status quo… The gospels are stories of interruption after interruption. Jesus was at a wedding in Cana when His mother interrupted Him and said, “They have no more wine.” He had just stepped ashore in a region called the Gerasenes when He was interrupted by the cries of a demon-possessed man. He was on His way to visit a sick child when a touch on His sleeve interrupted Him and he felt the power go out from Him. The incredible thing is that Jesus was always available and attentive to the interruptions and surprises, like someone who stops to fix a flat tire for a stranded motorist.” (Follow Me to Freedom, p. 28.)

Jesus lived for interruptions.

I couldn’t help but think about interruptions throughout my unexpected weekend. Uncharacteristically, the change in plans did not surprise me or create any anxiety. I simply chose to make the most of my free time, and enjoy a surprise vacation, with no agenda. In fact, I think I’ve always wanted a vacation with no agenda, and here life handed me one!

I connected with a friend in Atlanta, and spent the day getting to know her. I went to an event with my host, which taught me a lot about myself. The next day, I drove to Chattanooga and explored the city. I invited a few friends to join me but when they couldn’t, I made the most of the alone time — relishing in the fact that I didn’t have to be anywhere, or commit to anything.

I believe in “happiness only when shared”, so I made sure to share my day. I caught up with a friend over the phone; I laughed with a restaurant hostess who gave me ideas on where to spend the day. I spent at least thirty minutes getting to know Boots, the 78-year old street musician who settled in Chattanooga with his wife of 47 years, after traveling the world. I heard the story of a high school girl who just completed her first rowing competition and shared her sadness about losing. I flirted with good-looking men on the bus. I noticed the people around me; I experienced the city.

While I’m a little disappointed that my months of training were not put to use, I’m more thankful for the gift of interruptions. I’m thankful that my cousin could be with her family over the weekend. I’m thankful for the training itself.

How do you handle life’s interruptions? What race are you running?


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