Generally Speaking: A blessing in disguise

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

As if I needed one more thing on my plate this fall, I agreed to teach a ladies Bible study on Wednesday mornings. This is so not the first time in my life that I thought, “Oh, I can handle that” on top of about a million other things.

Note to self: Items you promise to do six months ahead of time will eventually come to pass. And they are bigger than you thought they would be originally.” And so…it came to pass that people signed up for this Bible study and I was obligated to do the work and give them their money’s worth. Well…not exactly their money’s worth since it was all free, but they signed up for the Bible Study on Psalms in good faith expecting it to be worth that ninety minutes every Wednesday morning for 3 months.

Oh, my goodness. It did not sound at all hard back last spring when I blithely said, “Oh, sure. I would love that!”

This has been like a final exam once a week for the last three months. Did I mention that promoting a first book takes about 100% more time than I ever dreamed and teaching a Bible study takes about 300% more time than I had imagined.

And so it came to pass that I was in over my head and not for the first time in my life.

If you have chanced to pick up the MaeMae’s Grandmother Book, you already know that I wrote a chapter about margins. We need white space in our lives, times that are completely blank and unscheduled.

Isn’t it interesting what hypocrites we can be even when we are not trying to be hypocrites? Just so you know before you read another word. I have failed big time. But I believe in making margins in your life even more than I did when I wrote that chapter despite my hypocrisy.

And now I find myself in a strange place because I have just returned from a week with my favorite daughter (I just have one, just so you know) and I have seen the insanity in her life up close and personal and I want to tell her to stop or at least to slow down. But then I look at my own crazy overscheduled life.

I also hear the voice of one Dubb Hemphill, my father (long ago Indianolan strong) saying on more than one occasion that if he could just put my mother in a bag with any one of a number of people who will remain unnamed, shake them up really well, one would get up and do something and my mother might do a bit less in the saving of the world. (i.e. he might get to eat something besides cereal for supper).

In other words, the whole shaking up process would be a win/win situation for everybody!

Clearly, my mother did not do margins well, either. Her default setting was “yes.” I fear mine is, too, and so is my daughter’s. Dubb would have a lot to say on the matter.

So, my Alabama grandchildren, ages 6, 5 and 3 have a social calendar that would rival Donald Trump’s.

The modern world has exposed them to experiences I did not have in the first four or five decades of my life.

Note that I said decades. Not one of them has even made their first decade.

Vivi, the middle child who embraces life with a love of all things glittery turned five last week while I was there.

One of the traditional birthday rites in her family is that the birthday child gets to choose the restaurant where we celebrate as a tribe.

Vivi chose a sushi place.

I was close to 60 before I tasted sushi. She has also racked more frequent flyer miles at five than I have done in any single five year span of my life.

But back to margins which is what I meant to write about tonight…I am concerned for all of us. Margins.

They matter. Our world is way too frantic and hurried.

This fall has been hard in a lot of ways. Nobody told me how much time it takes to get a book out.

There is a lot of visiting, speaking, phone calls back and forth, phone calls, phone calls…and did I mention that people don’t always call you back. More phone calls.

I am tired.

But do you know what I have realized?

Had I known how much effort was involved in promoting a book, I would have said, “no” to teaching a Bible Study on the Psalms.

And yet, that is likely the very thing that has kept my equilibrium and my sanity in the midst of the marketing that I don’t enjoy and the phone calls and the phone calls and the phone calls as I try to sound cheery and eager to hawk my book.

It has been a God thing from start to finish. In the middle of anxiety and trying to stretch the hours of every day in order to get it all done, I have been forced week to week to stop and spend a few hours preparing for the Bible study on Psalms.

What a gift that time has been.

Psalm 119: 105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” It is as true today as it was when David penned the words. I am certain…more certain than ever.

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