By Christine Tatum

Reflections: Schedule Recovery

I’m a recovering 21st-century Martha.

Like the fastidious and frenzied woman who thought it was more important to cook and clean for Jesus than to sit for a spell at his feet, I’m finally learning to be rather than to do.

It isn’t easy — particularly after years of scratching for an education, career and comfortable home. Study hard, I was instructed. So, I did. Work hard — and then even harder — I was commanded. So, I did that, too. And church! Don’t forget church. Teach classes. Lead Bible studies. Host parties. Check. Check. And check.

By God’s grace, I learned a long time ago that all of this do-gooding wasn’t going to buy me a ticket to heaven. But surely, I figured, he was pleased with my work ethic and obsessive attention to detail. He wired me to multitask, right? He had to have delighted in my promotions and professional awards — all signs of the courage, strength and determination he gave me, yes? And what about all of those friends who sought my Christian counsel? God must have reveled in that, too.

A smiley, 20-something technician at the local Apple store unwittingly set me straight while inspecting my nearly-attached-at-the-hip laptop computer and mobile phone.

She’d just taken a look at my digital calendar. It was (OK, and still is) jammed with entries (OK, commitments) through May ’09. All things pertaining to my household are meticulously noted in blue. Church events are logged in orange. Work deadlines? The green of cold, hard cash.

“You’re running here, there, and everywhere,” she blurted after getting a load of my travel schedule — always highlighted in purple. She could see stops over two months that had taken me to Chicago; Los Angeles; Michigan; New York; North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Do you always travel alone, or do you ever get to take someone special with you?” she asked.

Her subsequent inspection revealed what I’ve known for quite some time: I’m almost always up for a video chat — even when not wearing make-up. Want to do voice-over-Internet instead? No problem. My iPhone hums at nearly all hours with e-mail, voice mail and text messages.

Then there’s my page on Twitter.com, where dozens of people let me know precisely what they’re doing at any given moment. (“In market, contemplating which veggies to add to my diet,” one friend recently messaged. “Got ideas?”)

“You’re so good at managing all of this stuff; it looks so perfect,” the Apple tech said. “How do you make time for yourself?”

I grinned outwardly and cringed inwardly. Her innocent questions were an indictment. All of those little boxes were essentially about me making time for me.

If only I were so available for, accessible to, and communicative with my God. If only I thought to consult him — multiple times a day — about my sin, my family and friends and my career. If only I traveled with him, my someone special, more frequently.

If only I delighted in him, rather than inviting him to delight in me.

A new color — crimson — runs through my digital calendar to remind me — urge me — to drop what I’m doing to focus on my personal relationship with God.

I still need strong reminders. Remember: I’m in recovery.

About the Author

Christine Tatum is editor-in-chief of Infoition News Services, which delivers business news and information on demand to Fortune 500 companies, congressional lawmakers, and White House officials. Her career stops include The Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post. She is a North Carolina native who now lives in Denver with her husband and their two children.

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