Stress, Time, Trusting God

Stress: 3 Thoughts for Dealing With Interruptions

A meme with a waterfall and the word Flow at the top of the image

@JeanneTakenaka

In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both challenging and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life. 

As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I wanted to share some of those posts with you all. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.

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Being in the flow of life . . . It seems like time flows, second-by-second, moment-by-moment, year-by-year, like a river shaping and directing our lives. It doesn’t stop for interruptions, or joy-filled moments. It flows around each event in our lives, like a river flowing over and around rocks. Sometimes, rapids are created when a lot of water is forced into a small area. 

Isn’t that how stress sometimes feels? We only have so many moments to complete the things on our daily to-do lists, on our hearts. Interruptions force us to re-direct our time. 

A bench is nestled on the far side of a  fast-flowing mountain river

And when those unexpected happenings block up our time—like sticks caught against a rock in a river—stress pushes in, frothing, pressing, thronging onto the borders of our peace.

Those days when I’ve received a call from school asking me to pick up my son because he was hit in the head and was dizzy and nauseous. My entire focus changes.

This sets into motion a phone call to the doctor’s office and praying there’s an available appointment, usually as I’m rushing out the door and driving to the school to make sure my boy-man is okay. 

A calm river running around smaller rocks with larger rocks bordering each side of the water

Forget the phone calls I’d planned to make. Forget other appointments. Forget working on the next scene of the story. Something more important just trumped “the plans.”

Sometimes interruptions feel inconvenient, especially when they involve people I love. And I must adjust my focus and my heart. Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it. 

No, this doesn’t always happen easily or willingly. 
But, yes, adapting is necessary.

Meme: a catamaran heading out to face big waves. The words say: "Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it."

The thing is, I get to choose how I respond to the interruptions that add stress, that cause sticks in the flow of my day to slam against the plans I made. I can get angry and frustrated as the pile of sticks remains and grows. 

Or, I can clear away the debris of the emotions—the change-in-my-plan—and keep my mind and heart moving forward. I tend to be a move-forward kind of gal, but at times the emotions related to a situation hinder me as I grapple with the unexpected stress.

A river flowing with a rock wall, creating rapids as it runs over rocks in its path

I don’t enjoy math, but here’s the equation that can send me reeling: 

Interruptions + time crunch = STRESS

As I consider “my” time, and the flow of “my” days, I must realize each day belongs to my Father, not to me. Yes, I live them, but I want to be yielded to Him, sensitive to His plans for the day. 

A small water fall flowing over rocks

Three thoughts for navigating those unexpected stresses stream into our days:

Let go of expectations and flow with the rhythm of the day. I begin my days expecting certain things will happen. I expect to accomplish certain tasks. Then, when an interruption happens, my first reaction tends to be frustration. These sticks in the flow of my day can bottleneck my productivity. Instead, I need to remember that, though I am the one living this day, God is the One orchestrating it, that His plans for me are good, even if they are inconvenient.

Leave margin so that when (not IF) the unexpected happens, we have the time to manage it. I’m notorious for filling every moment of my days, from the early hour my alarm beeps until the moment I lay my head on my pillow, I expect things to flow in a specific way. When my plan is interrupted, I need to flex with the changes. Though I may not want to alter my plans, or redirect the flow, I need to trust that God’s influencing the path my day takes.

A fast flowing river moving between boulders with irises growing on one side of the river

Remember nothing takes God by surprise, even when we are thrown off. The upside of being a planner is I can accomplish a lot in a day. The downside is, when the unexpected happens, it’s easy to be thrown off-kilter. 

When those phone calls come . . . 

. . . when there’s a diagnosis or a cancelation of something I looked forward to,

. . . or a life change takes me by surprise, 

I remember I’m not the one who’s ultimately in control. My heavenly Father is. 

A mountain river flowing over rocks with autumn colored trees bordering each side of it

And He is never taken by surprise when the unexpected flows into my days. I trust that He’s holding me and the situation in the palm of His hand, and He will guide me through it. He’ll help me find my new “flow,” if I trust Him.

Sometimes, as we walk through our days—as we try to establish a flow so we can do the things we want or/and feel called to do—we must remember we’re not really in control. When we work on the things God’s given us and trust His timing to accomplish them, our days will flow more smoothly.

What about you? How do you respond when unexpected events eat away your time? How do you keep a good flow to your days?

Click to tweet: The thing is, I get to choose how I respond to the interruptions that add stress

I’m linking up with: #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

37 thoughts on “Stress: 3 Thoughts for Dealing With Interruptions”

  1. It’s funny, now with little left,
    I’ve all the time I need.
    I can inspect God’s warp and weft,
    and behold the mustard seed.
    The things I thought so vital once
    have vanished on the breeze,
    and left a cool clear essence,
    the fresh green scent of trees.
    I wish I’d learned this all before
    but am glad to have it now;
    it’s as if there is some golden door
    that opens to a secret vow.
    That vow I make, I’ll share with you:
    it’s to value the blessings seen anew.

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    1. Andrew, I appreciate your take on how you use your time. We should all be intentional about really looking for God in our days. Thank you for the reminder that we should value the blessings in each day. I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. Wow, yes! Interruptions do seem to “ruin” the flow of my day, and yet the wisdom comes from viewing them as you have here. With time and patience, maybe we will both come to appreciate the interrupted flow as imaging the rush of water down a river. The rocks create all the beautiful diversions and the foaming and bubbling of the river’s course!

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    1. I love your take on interruptions, Michele, the idea that they create the beautiful diversions and “variety” in the river’s course. I guess as I age I’m learning to see interruptions less as interferences and more as opportunities. But, that is still a habit I’m developing. 🙂

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  3. I think a one-word challenge would be so tough to do! I am amazed at the wonderful posts you come up with through being inspired by one word!

    Your poor son – I hope he is OK! We do get to choose how we react to stress. You chose to go with the flow, which is always a wise choice. I, unfortunately, choose to go *against* the flow far too often!

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    1. Yes, Laurie, my son is okay. That did result in a concussion, and it wasn’t his first or his last. But that’s another story for another day. I’m thankful God helps us in each moment when we need Him. And, if I’m honest, I still fight against that flow interruptions can cause more than I would like to admit. 🙂

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  4. “The debris of emotion” – that debris has really been mounding and ruining my flow lately. Especially the flow of peace, joy and even noticing His goodness and blessings. Time to clear out debris!! Love your imagery:)

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    1. I’m sorry you’ve had stuff going on that’s churning up that kind of emotion. It can be tough to navigate through that. I’m saying a prayer today that God enables you to see His presence and His care for you in this season. SO grateful you stopped by!

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  5. Thank you so much for reminding us that we belong to our Father, including our interruptions.

    I have a list of what I call “breath-prayers”. They are based in Scripture and are a super short version of a certain verse. When I feel overwhelmed I say that one sentence, remind myself of the larger verse, and the context and principle. Usually the whole verse comes to mind and helps me see.
    For example, when I am driving or I am outside and something comes up (like a phone call I didn’t expect) and I feel myself get mad, I say my breath-prayer “Help me look up!” I physically look up and try to think of what the verse says.

    “I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
    3 He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
    4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.”
    Psalm 121:1-4

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    1. That’s such a great way to get your thoughts focused on the Lord, Heidi! I like that you have a list of breath prayers. I’m going to have to think through what some of my breath-prayers are. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Lisa, thank you for your visits. Margin seems like a foreign concept with teens in the house, doesn’t it? I’m learning to create a little more margin in my days too. I’m grateful we’re walking this journey together, friend.

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  6. Jeanne,
    I’m getting better in my “wiser” years with regard to interruptions. I used to pack my day with lots of tasks to be accomplished and so naturally, if interruptions came, they frustrated the heck out of me and set my whole day askew. I am trying not to jam as much into a day so that if God takes me down a different path, it doesn’t upset the whole apple cart. Often interruptions can be invitations to be in God’s presence or perhaps share His love with someone else. If the interruptions are just plain annoying ie: the car breaks down, I have two choices…let it totally ruin the day or save myself the grief and just try to go with it. Easier said than done, but with God’s help I’m getting better 😉
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, it seems like age is the best teacher for moderating our to-do lists, doesn’t it? I’m getting better at not allowing interruptions to throw me off…at least not for very long. 😉 I agree with the not choosing grief and frustration. It’s a continual choosing, at least for me. I’m so thankful God continually helps us!

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  7. “Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it.”

    It’s the hard but necessary way. Great advice here. God bless!

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  8. I’m learning that God can lead us to what He knows fulfills us by interrupting our well-laid out plans! Have a wonderful, spacious week that may include His blessed interruptions!

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    1. I like this perspective, Lynn. Yes, God can lead us to what He knows is the best thing for us by interrupting our plans. 🙂 I have seen Him do this many times in my life. Thank you for your wishes for a spacious week with God’s blessed interruptions. Back at you, friend. 🙂

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  9. Interruptions can be annoying and will stop our flow if we let it. Or we could just trust the Lord that all that comes to me comes through His love for me.

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    1. Betty, yes! We choose how we respond to interruptions. When we choose the Lord with all that He allows into our days, I think we navigate said interruptions with more grace. 🙂

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  10. I guess life experience has taught me that interruptions will happen. As my sons have grown older my ability to go with the flow has grown up too. I am blessed that God continues to bring me through those stressful times.

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    1. Mary, I like your idea of our abilities of going with the flow growing up as we mature. It’s true, though, isn’t it? I’m so thankful God always walks with us through the stressful seasons. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, my friend!

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  11. Jeanne, yes, please! I’m so resonating with your emphasis on choosing life and giving ourselves generous margins. Life happens and there’s only so much we can do to be prepared. I’m grateful that God is never surprised or unhinged at what’s around the next bend.

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    1. Yes, Linda. We need to “plan margin” into our days. Some days I just can’t, since my schedule doesn’t entirely belong to me (you know, pre-driving teenaged boys and all…). But, on those days I can, I’m learning to embrace a slower pace so I have room to breathe and flex and flow when plans change. I’m with you…so thankful nothing takes God by surprise.

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  12. Such a good description:
    “And when those unexpected happenings block up our time—like sticks caught against a rock in a river—stress pushes in, frothing, pressing, thronging onto the borders of our peace.”
    But we always have a choice in how we respond!

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    1. Ava, we do always have a choice in how we respond to stress. I’m so thankful for that. And, that God directs us when we seek Him. Sorry for being so late in responding. 🙂

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  13. Just experienced a situation recently where the whole day was rearranged due to a series of unplanned events. I realized that hey it was okay and the plans I had could and would have to be set for another day and I survived without a hitch. Stressfree living is the way to strive for sure…. great post Sister!!

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    1. Stephen, please forgive my delayed response. Those unplanned events stretch us, don’t they? When we can flex with the unexpected, our hearts sure know a lot more peace. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  14. “Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it.” Fresh insight, Jeanne. None of us like having our plans interrupted or what we expected for any calendar day. I like the idea of letting go of those expectations and allowing margin, so the stress factor is not as high as it could be.

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    1. Karen, it seems like when we release our expectations into God’s hand, exercising that degree of trust, that we don’t get as stressed out when the unexpected crashes into our days, doesn’t it? I’m still learning the discipline of scheduling margin into my days. That type-A side of me is hard to contain. 🙂

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  15. Expectations… You don’t know how timely this blog is, Jeanne. I bought an airline ticket I couldn’t afford to send for my daughter, loaded with expectations. When they were dashed, I was a hot mess- angry, hurt, frustrated. My motives were incorrect and now I’m writing on just loving her where she is. Powerful; thank you.

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    1. Candice, I’m so glad these words were timely for you. It seems like our kids can break our hearts like no one else can. I’m so sorry for all the pain involving you and your daughter right now. I’m praying for you, and asking the Lord to minister to your heart and help you love your daughter where she is. Hugs, friend.

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