I claim tardiness as my number one weakness in life. For whatever reason, I was not blessed with the on-time gene. This drives some people crazy, others feel it is balanced by my winning personality, some are relieved because they know they are not alone. Here are some things my well-timed friends may find surprising. Maybe this will bring peace of mind and clear up any misunderstandings about why I, and others like me, find it difficult to arrive before the bell.
1. I absolutely hate being late.
I am fully aware of my lack of promptness. It is not a power play, like some would have you believe. I am usually running behind because of my inability to say no to the 10 tasks that pop up just before I walk out the door. The phone always rings. My toddler has the worst timing for bowel movements. My second-grader waits until now to show me the 4 page writing assignment that showcases her new-found brilliance in reading. My oldest has a meltdown over 5th grade girl drama. All in the 5 minutes before we are supposed to walk out the door. This is why we set an alarm for 15 minutes before we are supposed to leave, but somehow that is still not enough.
2. I sometimes use lateness as a cover.
I am an introvert. I hate being the first one anywhere that I do not have a specific role to play. Small talk kills me. So I would rather walk into a meeting after others are already engaged in conversation. That way I can listen and only contribute what I feel is important. This is why I love meetings with a mingle buffer. The time to talk starts 15 minutes before, usually over coffee, and I can come anytime in that 15 minute window. If I am feeling chatty, I can get there early. If I am already talked out or have something pressing to take care of then I can arrive just before the meeting officially starts.
3. I hate to leave tasks incomplete.
I am a bit of a perfectionist. Not obsessively, but enough that I find it difficult to stop in the middle of a project to go somewhere and do something else. That means if I am working on something that I can finish in the next few minutes and it will mean arriving up to five minutes late, I will probably choose that option. That goes for half-written sermons to a half-loaded dishwasher to half-read emails and articles.
4. I am not always late.
I am a pastor, which means there are things I cannot be late for; funerals, weddings, and worship services are among them. So I set a really early time to leave for the event. I don’t start anything up to an hour before I leave the house. I plan a half-hour buffer between my arrival time and the start of any planned event. I sometimes still arrive after my artificial deadline, but always before I am needed.
5. If I am late, it is not about you.
My lateness is not a reflection of how much I value the people or the function I am attending. If I am late for a coffee date or a committee meeting, I am not making a statement. I’m just late. Probably a little overwhelmed by life. Definitely chastising myself for being 35 and still unable to leave the house or office and get where I am going on time.
6. I’m the friend who will clear her schedule for you.
People tend to be my highest priority. If we have met for coffee and we are going long, I will not stop mid-conversation to dash off to the next thing. I will cancel my next meeting before leaving you hanging if you need to talk. My kids and husband come first, so If they need me, I am there for them. If someone is in crisis and I can talk with them, pray with them, listen to them process their situation, the schedule goes out the window.
Chalk it up to genetics, perfectionism, prioritizing relationships, it all adds up to a part of who I am that alternately brings comfort to some and annoyance to others. It is part of who I am, but not something to which I have surrendered. Maybe the ReFreshing Life consists of accepting ourselves while continuing to press toward becoming our best selves.
What is your weakness? Are you owning it? How can you work toward your best self?