This morning I met with a college student whose campus pastor suggested he meet with us. I’ve seen him on multiple occasions and we’ve briefly met so he’s somewhat familiar with our ministry. My first impression of him is that he is very approachable and likeable. Laughter comes easy. Let me tell you, he is a pretty intense young man. In our first few moments together across the breakfast table, he dove right into his dreams of being a lead pastor of a church.
For nearly 40 minutes he basically talked me through his ministry resume: I learned that he is very active in two on-campus ministries, he leads a small group and annual spring break mission trips, he organizes inner city ministry connections with other students, and accomplishes all this while taking classes full time. His schedule is unrelenting, and he strikes me as being lonely with very little margin.
I was sad for him because I recognized that scared kid trying to earn approval, which had been me for so many years. Like him, I had no space in my life for listening and reflection. Every minute of every day was filled. Even though it was filled with “good” things, I stilled sensed a longing for a deeper connection to God.
I gently asked him why his schedule was so full. What might happen if he left more space in his week without activity? How might he feel if he had more time just to be still? He just stared at me blankly. It was obvious unchartered territory and I could sense him feeling a little threatened.
“He just stared at me blankly.”
So I said, “You’re right, it is counter-intuitive.” I then shared a little of my own story and struggle. “When I began to allow margin in my schedule, I became attentive to what I was really feeling and experiencing for the first time in my life. Little time-outs during my day kept me from living in numbness. Margin in my schedule also taught me that my tasks are not as important as my awareness of God’s presence.”
I could see the idea of margin beginning to resonate, but his phone buzzed and he abruptly ended our time saying, “Yeah man, I think I see what you’re saying, but I need to head out. I am already late to my next meeting.” It was weird and abrupt Francine. Even the space I created in our meeting for him to connect with himself and with me was stomped out. Perhaps a seed was planted. I do look forward to following up with him and talking with him again, but a couple thoughts and questions seem to surface in my head and heart as he left.
Obviously his world is maxed but yet he still reached out to us knowing what we offer as a ministry. If he reached out to us then that must reflect a longing in his heart that yearns to have some margin though there is still so much confusion and chaos. I decided to linger a while longer remembering what is was like for me to walk in his shoes while you patiently gave me permission to not be afraid of what surfaces when I am alone in a quiet place.