When our son Jackson was in daycare, I remember one morning his school was delayed two hours due to freezing temperatures.
That might sound absurd to those in colder parts of the world, but 10 degrees in the south = state-wide emergency.
Of course, my son didn’t mind at all. In fact, it was great news for him. I, on the other hand, was not so thrilled.
School delay means work delay, which means taking time off work, which means I either have to put in for time off or just show up late.
Plus, it just delays productivity. That’s two hours less I’ll get to make progress toward accomplishing something.
And it’s not like two hours is enough time to plan anything with my son, right? It’s not enough time to go do anything cool together. It’s just waiting time. Time to sit around and wait.
Needless to say, I, like most Americans, hate delays.
But life’s filled with delays, isn’t it? And man do we hate them.
Google’s definition of a delay is “a period of time by which something is late or postponed.”
In that context, I might define a delay as an unexpected or undesired gap in time between when you think something should happen and when it’s actually going to happen.
I thought I would drop my son off at a certain time, and I had a plan for getting to work and getting things done based on that timeline. But reality didn’t line up with my expectations, and I perceived it as a delay.
What’s interesting is, delays are subjective; they’re in our minds.
In my mind, anything past a 7:30 am drop-off time at daycare was “delayed.” But time is time – it’s not partial to me, you, or anyone else. Delays then, are relative. They’re times in life when we’ve set your minds on an expectation that isn’t happening in the timeline we want. It’s nothing to get upset about, it’s simply that our desires aren’t lining up with reality. In reality, that “delayed” time is just as valuable as it was before the “delay,” you’re just seeing it differently now.
What in your life do you feel like is late?
What do you feel has been postponed?
Have you found yourself sitting in an unexpected gap in time?
We all have. Maybe it’s in your career, your ministry, your love life, your family, your social life, or your spiritual life.
What area of your life have you realized that what you thought would or should happen isn’t happening for you right now?
On that morning, my son’s school was postponed. I saw myself getting him to school early so I could get to work and get started on my day. But that didn’t happen.
So there were two options:
Option A: Sit around and wait
Option B: Fill the gap with something else
We took option B and went to Chick-Fil-A. It wasn’t extravagant, but it filled the gap with something useful by spending time together doing something we could both enjoy.
We could have watched a movie.
We could have slept in.
I could have given him some toys and let him play in his room while I relaxed.
I could have even worked from home for those two hours. Most of my work was online at the time, so that wouldn’t have been a problem.
Instead, we used the time to do something we didn’t get to do a lot – spend time together one-on-one.
Now I definitely didn’t (and still don’t) have this whole delay thing figured out by any means, and school delays are easy to fill with something useful. Life’s delays, on the other hand, are not so easy to do that with.
But it got me thinking:
Aren’t all of life’s delays really just an imagine paused button that we place on ourselves?
I mean, delays are just shifts in time slots. A time slot opens when a delay happens, and what we often consider to be delays are really just opportunities to do something else.
So I started thinking. When life’s delays happen – and life is FILLED with delays – how am I responding?
Do I complain about it?
Do I sit around waiting and wishing for the delay to be over?
Do I get mad that there’s a delay and give up altogether?
Do I put my life in cruise control, sit back, and relax?
The truth is, I’ve done all of those things at one point or another.
But in reality, some delays simply can’t be avoided.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, you just can’t shorten the delay.
My son’s school was GOING to be delayed two hours. It didn’t matter how much I wanted, who I called, or what I did to shorten that delay, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Some things only happen in due time.
And here’s the thing: That delay was there for a reason – to protect from something potentially harmful. Shortening that would have only put myself and my family in potential danger.
Maybe you’ve noticed this, but life works in seasons. It works in time.
It doesn’t matter how much you want brownies or how hard you work to cook them, it’s still going to take the exact same amount of time in the oven. You could increase the heat, but then they won’t cook right.
Some things in life simply need a certain amount of time – a certain amount of delay – in order for them to work out right.
But let me ask you something: What are you doing while the brownies are cooking?
You could be getting an oven mitt, plates, silverware, milk, or ice cream. You could be using your time to make sure you’re 100% prepared to enjoy the heck out of those brownies when they come out. After all, brownies taste better when they’re prepared right.
You could also use your time to hang out with your family, clean the kitchen, read a book, or a million other useful activities.
So my question to myself – and you – is this:
What delay are you facing?
Working a job you hate?
Want to write a book?
Want to start a business?
Want to start a family?
Want to get married?
There are always obstacles you can’t control (time, money, etc.).
But what are you doing with what you can control right now?
Are you sitting around and waiting it out?
Or are you filling the gap with something useful?
Because I’ve got news:
Everything great happens in the gaps. Life is ultimately a gap in time. The value of your life is measured by how you fill that gap.
How will you fill the gap?