I started a recent Saturday morning with a sigh. It was time for one of my least favorite tasks: grading.
Grading for a professor is like sweeping the floor for a barber. It’s necessary, tedious, and often a hairy mess.
I was hoping to finish in an hour. I sat down with a red pen and braced myself. Then, the barrage began.
Daddy, can you watch me dance?
Daddy, can you make me breakfast?
Daddy, will you help me with this puzzle?
Daddy, my sister is bothering me!
Abundant tears. Disappointment galore. (My children had a rough time, too.)
One hour stretched into two. As with so much of parenting, this was not what I planned.
Children Are Interrupters
Interruptions and parenting go hand in hand. Every parent-to-be hears this, but it’s hard to grasp the new reality until it arrives.
For mothers, disruptions begin early as the child takes over her body during pregnancy. Unplanned clothing, cravings, emotions, pains, and trips to the bathroom mark those nine months.
During their first years of life, children survive through interruptions. They broadcast their needs at all hours and volumes.
While those early-year disturbances don’t disappear, they gradually change. Feedings, diaper changes, and 3am lullabyes give way to snack requests, scraped knees, and 3am counseling.
This isn’t unusual; this is parenting.
God is an Interrupter
I often brush aside these intrusions as meaningless accidents. Surely (I say to myself) the important parts of life lie elsewhere: adult conversations, work, community service, prayer, reading, church.
But God is an interrupter. Just ask Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, or anyone that encountered Jesus.
Because he is sovereign, none of our interruptions come by chance. Some people use the term “divine appointment,” but that’s too tame. God disrupts our lives more like a rock through the window than a polite meeting request.
Learning Through Interruptions
God’s interruptions are more than a detour. His diversions don’t just lead to the correct path, they are the path. God teaches through disruption.
Consider Moses. God used Moses’ curiosity about the burning bush (Exodus 3:3) to reveal his name (Exodus 3:6,14–15), give Moses his mission (Exodus 3:10), and pledge his presence (Exodus 3:12). God didn’t just end Moses’ shepherding career, he gave Moses spiritual supplies for his new, enormous task.
We must embrace not only the result of God’s interventions but the interventions themselves. We need to see the opportunity, not the annoyance.
Which brings me back to my children.
Learning With My Children
I need these parenting interruptions. I need to be shaken from self-centeredness and reminded of how important my children are. I have only a finite number of dances to watch, breakfasts to prepare, and puzzles to build.
Yes, life with children is harder. But it is better, too.
God teaches me though my children’s requests, their needs, their disagreements, and even their disobedience. He shines a light on my heart, my requests, and my disobedience. He graciously shapes my character as I learn how to respond and how to love.
I’m grateful for God’s instructions. The question is: Will I listen?