For Everything There Is a Season: Efficiency

I wrote this article that I wrote in June 2012 for Catapult Magazine. At the time, my oldest daughter Lynn and her family lived kitty-corner across the backyard. Now, ten years later, we have purchased a house together, and only three of the kids live at home. We’re thinking about blogging about multi-generational living, and when I read this article, I found that my attitude hasn’t changed. People always come first.

I went back in time to motherhood. It wasn’t a long trip—just kitty corner across the backyard where six of my grandchildren live. It didn’t last long—only three days and two nights—but it felt like a world away. My priorities changed. My book and my clients went up on the shelf to be dusted off when the weekend was over.

My life-rhythm centered on the care and feeding of six children between the ages of 2 and 13—their bodies, their minds, their hearts, and their souls. In this echo-world of my earlier life, people take precedence over tasks, to-do lists, and efficiency.

“Where is the two-year-old’s other shoe?” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Are we there yet?” “Pit toilets are the only bathrooms here by the lake, so that’s what we will have to use.” “That’s my first hug of the day—I hope you have a lot more in those arms.”

Counting to six at least once a minute—six bobbing heads in the lake’s swimming area—isn’t efficient, but we had a great time. Getting everyone’s attention and explaining the plan for next half hour is efficient; rehashing the details with each of them individually is less inefficiency than inevitability. But in that regurgitating of information and answering of questions is affirmation of each individual—you can come to me with your concerns and questions, and I will listen.

I am a big fan of efficiency in tasks. I hate looking for things, so I love a method and structure. But these are things—not people.

How efficient was it of God to create a universe, a Milky Way galaxy, the earth, and fill it with people to whom He gave the freedom to choose when He knew what our choice would be?

How efficient was it for God the Father, the great I AM, to give up a part of his triune self—his son—to debase himself so low as to take on humanness only to be scorned, rejected, and killed—to ultimately triumph over sin and death for us all.

It wasn’t efficiency. It was love—a love so big we can’t fathom even a tiny portion of it.

Let’s go back to my weekend of motherhood. It was about love for my daughter and her husband—giving them some needed couple time. It was about love for my grandchildren—a love that swells my heart to near bursting.

It wasn’t efficient. That last chapter in my book is still waiting to be written. Client deadlines mean I have to put off even thinking about it for a few more days. I was on a roll. It will take me at least a half a day to get back into it—and the last chapter is a doozy to write.

It wasn’t a love like God’s—only a faint reflection in a Kathie-shaped mirror that He created to worship him.

It was only three days. Now I can go back to ordering my days according to tasks so I can get back to my book. Why am I taking the time to write a magazine article about efficiency? Your guess is as good as mine.

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