The Unproductive Day

Before work this morning, I made a to-do list that was much too long for the amount of hours a day contains.  After teaching my class, I had planned to grade speeches, make a return at a store, pick up a gallon of paint for my next weekend project, mail a package, and buy groceries before driving home.  Once home, I had planned on doing at least three loads of laundry, including all the jackets that we had worn through the chilly parts of spring -- jackets that now seem obscenely warm given the mid-80 temperatures.

In my mind, I would complete all of these tasks within the two-hour window after my class ended and before my girls got home from school.  Because I have a time turner, obviously.

Nothing worked like I had planned.  I picked the slowest line in the store to make my return -- the line where the cashier couldn't find the price on an obscure item and the customer decided to pay with a check.  I finally cut my losses, moved to another line, waited until I reached the front, and then was told that returns couldn't be processed from that register.

Every stop on my itinerary was slow and irritating.  Barely anything was crossed off the list by the time my girls stepped off the bus.  To up the ante, my middle daughter said that her foot, the one she had tweaked the evening before while jumping on a neighbor's trampoline, still hurt.  I mustered all of my medical knowledge, which means that I asked her to stick out both legs, looking and feeling to see if there was any difference between the injured and normal foot, and found a sizable lump.

That's how I added an unexpected and lengthy visit to my local Med Express into an already overwhelmingly unproductive day.


As I sat in the exam room, playing mind-numbing rounds of "I Spy" and "I Went on a Picnic and I Took (fill in the blank alphabetically)," I thought back to a similar day during my own childhood.  It had been a Sunday.  I recall this detail vividly because my father had wanted to read the Sunday paper all day, and time had escaped him, and the day was nearly done, and when he finally sat down to read the paper as my brother and I prepared for bed, I accidentally stepped on my brother's backpack and impaled my foot on a pencil.

That night, my dad had driven me to a Pittsburgh ER so the doctor could remove the pencil tip lodged in my foot.  (My dad forgot to bring the newspaper with him.  The waiting room had no newspapers.  Of course.)

We all live days like this.

As I drove my daughter home after getting X-rays and planning a follow-up consultation with the orthopedist to determine if a boot was necessary (thankfully, it wasn't), my thoughts flashed back to my morning commute.  I had prayed quite specifically about the day while I drove.  Perhaps I intuitively knew that my lengthy to-do list was a pipe dream.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit was prompting me to prepare for interruptions.

But I had prayed, "Lord, let me do only what You'd have me do today.  Not more, not less.  Help me to fill this day the right way."

Maybe the right way to fill certain days simply means that you endure long lines with grace.  Maybe it means that you play a dozen rounds of I Spy in a blandly monochromatic waiting room.  Maybe it means that you drop the prescribed ought to's, like three loads of laundry, so you can instead focus on what you must do.

And when you add it all up, perhaps it's still a day well spent.  Even if you don't get to read the newspaper.

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