Reading for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 5:15-20
Peace be with you!
My activities are often planned out a week in advance, so I can schedule my personal caregivers accordingly. My caregivers know what to do as soon as they get to my house in the morning: feed the pups and prepare my breakfast. After I come out of my room, my personal caregiver makes my coffee and feeds me my breakfast. Depending on what day of the week, my helpers know which chores to do and where I need to be normally. I like my routine, though some days there are unexpected schedule changes. Most of my personal caregivers can be flexible and go with the flow, but individuals who are employed through an agency are not able to change their schedule with such ease.
Scheduling personal caregivers does require knowing and communicating what I need done and when. It also requires planning ahead and acknowledging my personal caregivers’ strengthens and weaknesses as well as their needs, such as time off. Managing your own care means managing both your time and the time of others, which requires discipline and care.
The author of Ephesians gives us guidelines as to what to do with our time. There are two types of time: chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to the timing we live by on earth, which dictates an exact hour and minute, whereas kairos is God’s perfect timing. The author writes, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NRSV). As Christians, we are to live according to chronos by listening to what God has planned.
However, our society has us programmed to chronos—the rush and to pack as much as we can into twenty-four hours in order to be successful. Our time is divided among school, work, family and friends, and other activities. Our society also has an ideal timeline for our lives: obtain your college degree by 22, land a job in your field soon after, married by 30, kids by 35, retired by 62, and so on. We are defined by our ability to keep up with the Jones and the Smiths.
But what happens when you cannot keep up with the Jones and the Smiths? What if you take longer to get your college degree and land a successful career? What if your life does not follow the ideal timeline?
Unfortunately, my life does not follow society’s ideal timeline. Sure, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree by 23 and my master’s degree by 26. I was even married by 25 and divorced by 29. Yet at 32 I am living in a retirement area in Florida and helping take care of my stepfather who has Parkinson’s. My time is spent managing both of our cares, especially as my stepfather’s physical abilities are declining slowly but more quickly than expected. My calendar looks a rainbow, because each personal caregiver, my stepfather, my mother, and I all have our own color. Some people wonder how we keep it all straight, but it is just our normal.
I often wonder how I got here. Living in Florida was not in my ten-year plan back in college and was not even a thought for my mom. When my stepfather could no longer handle the bitter winters of Wisconsin, Florida was ideal. Over the course of two years, we all moved down for one reason or another. My mom moved down when she found a job, and I moved down with my then husband, so he could golf all year round. My stepfather moved to Florida when he retired early. Now four years later my mom and I look at each other and wonder where the time has gone. My stepfather’s physical condition continues to decline, and we keep saying, “not yet,” as he is no longer able to do the things he once did.
Then I remember God’s perfect timing, his kairos timing. God’s timetable is vastly different than the one we live by on earth with no worldly standards or checklists. We don’t get to have input, and when we try to interject, God just laughs. In order to live by kairos, we must quiet the world around us and let God intervene on our behalf. We must be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit and to go where we did not plan. When we do, we are led to amazing places and do amazing things.
Sure, I never planned on living in Florida, but I am where God wants me to be. God knew my mom and my stepfather would need my support during this time. God knew my stepfather would need someone to keep him company when my mom was working. God knew my mom would need someone to talk to when things got overwhelming. God knew I could handle the task and would need my family after my divorce. Things may not be the way we planned, but it is God’s perfect plan.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your perfect timing. Help us to quiet our lives and slow down, so we can listen to your will. Lead us by the Holy Spirit to carry out your perfect plan in your timing. Thank you for intervening on our behalf. Amen.