The Joy of Interruption

Susan Narjala   |   May 22, 2018 

A few weeks ago, while enjoying a relatively quiet house, thinking of article topics to wax eloquent on, I chanced upon the idea of “joyful interruptions.”

I started jotting down ideas, making notes on the topic, and researching Bible verses and quotes.

I had a full day ahead of me packed with writing assignments, chores, meal planning, and a bunch of stuff I’d listed out in my powder-blue planner emblazoned with the words, “2018 - The possibilities are endless.”

Just as I got into the rhythm of writing, my phone beeped: a friend wanted to drop by that afternoon. Soon, the phone buzzed again: another friend needed help with some writing. Later, my sister-in-law would ping me asking for help with her kids, and my neighbour would stop by to use my printer.

My day was going nothing like I’d planned.

It was much richer. It was much more fulfilling. It was a day that brought unexpected joy. 

Interruptions mess with your rhythm. They are never convenient. They take your to-do list and put it through the shredder.

Yet, when you allow yourself to be interrupted, you’re essentially giving someone priority over something. You’re putting people before process. You’re learning to be flexible. You’re learning to be stretched. You’re learning to be vulnerable.

And without vulnerability, there is no real relationship.

Of course, I’m not advocating that you respond to every distraction, beep, and buzz on your phone.  I’m not defending an always-yes culture. That would be debilitating to any kind of life leave alone a productive one. We absolutely need to protect what’s core to who we are: our time with our family, with God, time to just be.

What I am supporting is that we loosen our white-knuckle grip on our schedules and embrace the idea that interruptions can be blessing. Like C. S. Lewis said, “What one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”

Personally, I was thrown into a new season called “life interrupted” three years ago. Before that, I was fiercely protective of my time and my space. My grocery list was ordered by aisle so I didn’t waste a minute. My planner was highlighted in different colours so my family’s schedule was air-tight. I got a dopamine rush from checking items off my to-do list.

And then my family and I moved to India. Suddenly, my very organized life looked like a board game that had been violently shaken. Every single piece was out of its assigned space.

Sure, I could still meal plan but what was the point when ingredients I wanted were unapologetically “out of stock.” I could set a schedule for the day, but realistically speaking I could be stuck in traffic for twice as long as I’d anticipated. I could plan to bake, but the power could be out for hours. I could plan a quiet day devoted to writing, but without a doubt my doorbell would ring 17 times in the span of a few hours (no kidding).

Precious little goes according to plan here. I slowly learned the art of being flexible. I learned to let people into my life – even if they hadn’t been pencilled into my planner.

I learned the difference between infringement and interruption. Not everyone is trying to infringe on your rights or your personal space. In fact, very few are. Mostly, people are just looking to connect with someone who can listen. I had to ask myself some tough questions: Is it really an infringement of my rights to have someone drop in announced? Or is it, perhaps, just embarrassing because my house hasn’t been tidied up?

I discovered the richness of unplanned human interaction. I learned that I can be a greater blessing when I’m not shackled by my planner.

Jesus set the perfect example for us when He lived life full of unplanned interruptions. He instructed His disciples to let children disrupt His alone time. He got up from a nap on a boat to listen to His panicked disciples. He paused sermons to heal people. He stopped in His tracks to look up a sycamore tree and talk to Zacchaeus.

He embraced interruptions. He poured out His life for others.

My 2018 planner may or may not have appointments pencilled in. Either way, the possibilities are endless when I see interruptions as “precisely one’s life.”


Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

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When she's not smuggling chocolate past her kids or drinking gallons of coffee, Susan Narjala can be found writing, baking and (thinking about) working out. She grew up in Chennai, lived in Portland, Oregon, for the last ten years and is now back in India with her family. She finds nuggets of humour in the everyday, and writes about it on on her blog,

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