Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In Praise of Inefficiency

In my pre-Mommy life, I was an event planner.  My days were ruled by to-do lists, timelines, spreadsheets, and “for office use only” boxes.  Clear plastic tubs (with color-coordinated lids, of course) with a detailed inventory of what was contained inside was adhered to each treasure of successful event must-haves.  We tailored our participant check-in processes to save time--and to conserve energy.  To say that we had these events “down to a science” would be no understatement.  Truly, I’m not breaking my arm to pat myself on the back--I had a hand-picked, elite team of fellow J’s (Myers-Briggs typologies) to help me execute these events.  Poetry in motion.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Much to my shock and chagrin, I learned that infants are not much into timelines or strictly-imposed schedules.  They have their own agenda and mission statement.  Which generally includes eating and sleeping.  Rinse and repeat.  I learned about flexibility and going with the flow--within reason, of course.  I suspect that my former colleagues would have been quite shocked by my new-found behavior.  Babies and toddlers are not models of "grown-up" efficiency.  Duh.

Former event planners never die, they just transfer their repressed desire for organizational office supplies to unsuspecting volunteer organizations.  The “they really should do it this way” DNA runs deep.  But, it’s all for the greater good.  One or two extra bits of signage there and a greeter here could have saved many people those dazed and confused looks, as they seek to find where they should check in/pick up/drop off.  Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  I have had evil thoughts about the need for meeting agendas, matching t-shirts, and tighter receiving lines.  But, grace is greater than all my Type A iniquity.

For the past year or so, we have been involved with a ministry that serves food-insecure children in the Madison County area.  Each week, there is an assembly line created in the warehouse where plastic grocery bags are packed with a dozen or so non-perishable items that help to ensure that these kiddos will have something to eat on the weekends--school lunch and breakfast programs are only available to them during the week.  To the outsider, it might look like a motley crew.  But, sometimes, it’s not all about getting the most amount of work done in the least amount of time.  Gasp.

Sometimes, it’s about fellowship and laughter as we pack our bags.  It’s about connecting with that precious recently-widowed “senior saint” who will go home to an empty house.  It’s allowing for folks who might just move a little slower--for whatever reason.   Sometimes, we just need to slow down.  And to realize that it’s okay to do just that.  Enjoy the process. More importantly, enjoy the people.  

This is not a lesson easily learned.  For some of us (ahem!), it takes years.  With lots of review and remedial tutoring.  I admit my impatience with “slower than a herd of turtles” drivers and grocery-store aisle loiterers who park their buggies in nearly impassable postures.  But, every so often, when my uber-J starts to rear its well-intentioned yet ugly head, I think of that warehouse assembly line.  Settle down, says that little voice.  See the people.  Not your project.

'Tis a rather delightful view.

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