I press my foot down and accelerate to 121 km/hr, the speed where I am unlikely to get stopped by a patrol car, but I can get around most other drivers with ease. Clearly, they have nowhere important to be right now.
I glance at the clock for the fifth time since pulling out of my parking space. It’s not possible to arrive on time, without some kind of magic or miracle happening. The drive takes at least fifteen minutes and I have five. Why do I do this to myself? I resist the temptation to step on the gas pedal more aggressively.
I reduce the temperature inside the vehicle. Maybe I should stop wearing my winter coat in the car and just put it on when I get to my destination. Tightness moves across my abdomen. There’s no point getting worked up. It’s already too late for that, I tell myself. I’m late. Again.
The appointment ahead of mine has likely taken longer than expected. When are dental offices ever on time? Yet, I don’t recall waiting for more than a couple of minutes in the past; not long enough to check the emails in one of my three inboxes.
A friend’s words echo in my mind, causing a pain at my temple. I jab my finger there, as if the action will push it out; both the thought and the ache. “Why do people think their time is more important than mine? It’s so disrespectful.”
Guilt erases the excuses. A Christian should not be keeping someone waiting. Why am I not putting others first as God’s Word instructs? I clench my jaw, then immediately soften it. The dentist will comment if he sees evidence of grinding.
The phone call on my way out the door was important: a hospital appointment for a follow-up test to schedule. Reception for phone calls is best at the window, farthest from the exit. The elevator would have been a complete dead zone.
I sigh. The three-minute call did not make me ten minutes late.
Am I an inconsiderate person deep down? Am I selfish? Rude? Disrespectful? ‘The proof is in the pudding,’ my mom used to say.
My self-admonition has made my foot heavy, and my eyes widen at the number on my speedometer. I should really get in the habit of using cruise control. I scan the area for marked cars and take deep breaths to calm my racing heart. I don’t have money to throw away on speeding tickets.
The numbers on the clock display change from 59 to zeros. It’s official. My appointment was at four o’clock. I am still seven minutes away and will need time to park and walk to the door. Why do I do this? I smack the steering wheel, resisting the urge to scream.
Is my optimism to blame? My belief that there will be no delays; traffic will be moving 20 km/hr over the speed limit, as it should; the weather will remain clear; road construction crews will be on their break; deer will stay in the woods where they belong; my car, which has been in the garage for extended visits three times this year, will cooperate and continue running smoothly. If the universe would just support me in my time management, I’d be okay.
It’s not like I mind waiting. I have at least three books in various apps on my phone that I could read. It’s actually enjoyable to have a few spare minutes for a hobby I love and don’t often make time for. I make a sound in the back of my throat, expressing the disgust I feel towards myself.
There’s a parking space not far from the door. I bolt toward my destination like an Olympic runner, arriving out of breath and sweaty. The hygienist is waiting at the front desk. She doesn’t share my problem with being on time.
My lips spill out empty apologies, which she bats away with a swipe of her hand.
“No worries,” she says. “You’re my last appointment of the day.”
No! Don’t give me forgiveness I don’t deserve, I want to scream at her. Don’t let me off the hook that easily. It’s people like her who create people like me. I resent her cheerfulness and wish she would show irritation or anger.
I delay the exam a few minutes more as I treat her as my therapist rather than my hygienist, sharing my frustration and offering solutions to my own deficiency.
“I’m never late for work,” I admit from my reclined position. “It’s because I aim to be there 30-45 minutes before my official start time.” I raise my guilt-ridden eyes to meet hers. “That’s the key, isn’t it? I need to aim to arrive at appointments ahead of time not exactly on time.”
Her energy uplifts me throughout the appointment, and I leave with a smile of clean white teeth to walk outside into a snowstorm. Wasn’t I lucky this didn’t start on my drive here? I roll my eyes. I need to change.
I stand on Val’s Stage today and plead guilty. The charge is tardiness.
A multi-tasker by nature, I fill every waking minute with activity and have to force myself to do relaxing things. Even watching TV has been relegated to background entertainment while preparing dinner or doing work on my laptop. I take showers because a soothing bath takes longer. I get up early and go to bed late. There’s that word again – late. I feel guilt there too since my hubby likes to go to bed at a ‘decent’ time, and I can’t seem to conform. It’s been 29 years; we’re not likely to align perfectly in the next 29.
The point is, I’m too busy to be on time. But that’s my own balancing issues for which I must take responsibility instead of encroaching on others with my inadequacies.
As a Daughter of God, being late is a sin. Verses admonishing me to put others first and myself last, love my neighbor, treat others the way I’d like to be treated spin around in my head. It is my heart’s desire and my Father’s wish that I respect and consider others and their time.
Do you ever struggle with being on time? Join me as I repent and ask our Father’s forgiveness. I apologize to any reader who I have ever kept waiting. Moving forward, I intend to put every appointment into my phone with lead time. If I need to be there at nine, I will record it as 8:40. If that’s what it takes to change my behavior, that is what I’ll do.
Forgive me, Lord for showing disrespect to others with my tardiness. Forgive me for representing You poorly; for putting myself ahead of my love for my neighbors. You tell us in Your Word that all we have to do is ask, and You will give us what we need. I need help in changing my behavior. I trust in You that You will give me strength and determination to arrive on time for all future activities, whether they are professional or social. Thank you for being a Father who is merciful and forgives my sin. Help me to shine for You.
February is the month when we celebrate love. I think people would much rather feel our love than hear about it though. Showing respect and consideration for others and their time is a start. Having patience with people when we have to wait on them also demonstrates caring. Lending a hand; reaching out to a friend; wearing a mask when we go out; staying home unless the outing is essential: all ways we show our love.
It doesn’t look like we’ll be dining out with our loved one this year. Valentine’s Day might look like an Uber Eats order and a pour from a box of wine. But I don’t need to tell you that love is not found in fancy restaurants, rose bouquets or expensive gifts. It’s expressed in our day-to-day interactions. I’m going to work on my punctuality.
What are you going to work on?