Monday, March 12, 2007

Proper Timing

I like this watercolor by Charity. Watercolor painting has always stymied me, because I rarely time things quite right to get the effect I'm looking for.

Proper timing.

Wendell Berry notes that the Peruvian farmers prevent erosion partly through proper timing. They don't plant the fields while the fields are vulnerable to rainfall.


I need to remember this in life, when I try to plant something, try to bring growth. Recently, I was lamenting that I struggle with proper timing in my interactions, almost as much as I struggle with it in watercolor. Somehow I miss the signs that the "field" is too vulnerable to start my digging and planting. And then everything just starts to wash away, and I'm left there looking at an empty field.

In my recent grief over this struggle, I ended up (perhaps by God's own good timing) in Proverbs. Here are the planting suggestions, just as they came to me, drifting in like a mist, to meet me in the emptiness...

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion. (18:2)

If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame. (18:13)

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (18:15)

Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way. (19:2)

That's it. Just a few proverbial farming suggestions, from the Master Farmer himself.

Standing Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post, let me know and I'll link to you.





Watercolor by Charity Singleton. Used with permission.

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Blogger Anne Mateer said...

A good word, L.L. Timing in relationships. Timing in my plans and dreams. Timing in everything. I need to watch for it--and I need to trust God for the growth in His timing, not mine.

Thanks for the reminder.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

As usual, you've got some great thoughts here. I, too, struggle with proper timing in my relationships/interactions and appreciate the proverbial reminders.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Okay, so those proverbs, yeah, well, I need to listen to them. Especially the first one. Here's the thing about my blogging: I get to talk and talk and talk, and I can pick and choose which others to read. In the end, I don't have to understand anything or read anything challenging to my view.
Sometimes I get so focused on this "no one listens to me" tantrum that I forget to listen to others.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Miriam said...

Hmm...timing. I have much to learn about this, I think. L.L., I love how your posts are always full of thought-provoking analogies. And, I love how God communicates this way, also.

Charity - great painting. I struggle with watercolors also, so am impressed too. :)

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for that post. I needed to hear it! I am struggling with similar things myself. I have horrible timing. I think it's because I can be very self centered so I don't think to stop and pray before I react, I just open my mouth or go where I want to go. Oh and about that lion.. I am waiting to hear back from an Animal Hospital.. Keep your fingers crossed :)

12:50 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

what an incredible painting....i thought it was a photo. kudos to charity!

and i loved the quotes from proverbs....ones i needed to hear.

i relate very much so to your "proper timing" thoughts. there are things i've desired in my life, in my relationships, etc. that i have tried to force into being....instead of waiting on God's timing and direction.

One of these things is adoption...a desire of my heart. my husband and i started the process of an international adoption several years ago, despite some wariness, lack of funds, and family turmoil. but i was so eager that i pushed my husband, even though he didn't feel ready yet. needless to say, we stopped the process halfway through b/c of issues that arose.

it's still a desire of my heart....but i'm going to leave God in control of it this time...if and when it's time.

1:08 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

One More... I wonder if we can "mess things up" by ignoring timing?

Katrina... thanks for the coming-along-side, with your own admission. Encouraging.

Heather... I was thinking this the other day. That blogging is particularly deceiving. We can think we are so great. But we forget that it is partly a "face." This face doesn't exist to the same extent in our regular interactions off-line. (and that's where the hard truth of who we are is more likely, then, to present itself.)

Miriam... that's an interesting thought: that God communicates with analogies. He gives us a model, I guess, for how to be writers of impact!

Stephanie... I think you have zeroed in on a critical point. The moving-forward-without-thinking can be part of a self-focused way of operating. This is what I'm trying to reflect on right now, as I deal with trying to be better with timing in my speech (today I was thinking that some things should never even be said, because the timing may never be right... humbling, then, to hold on to my "great" thoughts out of love for another's vulnerable heart)

Blue... oh, that's hard. And it makes me consider one of the difficult parts of timing. To me, a good idea should always happen "right now." Yet, there can be hidden variables... It's hard to wait.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I really like Charity's watercoloring picture.

Good thought from that. Yes. We all mess up on that, I would think. To know the right time and manner and thing to actually do. It's so easy to do and do wrong, or else end up doing nothing at all. But God surely has something better for us. So that we can actually be doing, right along the way. Maybe a good portion of that doing is waiting, waiting in faith in the Lord, in prayer.

But yes. I mess up here, as I reflect on it. I have plenty of room to grow, too.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

"Vulnerable." What a supercharged word! That could have been a post by itself. Seriously.

Nice watercolor, Charity. I especially liked that one from your gallery. There is a calmness and serenity about it, but the viewer knows that there is something happening in those houses over there, and can’t help but wonder what’s going on inside. It makes a simple first impression, but it’s still intriguing. It’s like you… no Hollywood glitter, but peaceful, and something interesting is going on inside that compels us to pay attention.

And now, for some relevant historical data: LL, the function/application of your selections from Proverbs demonstrates that they were originally written for a BC Bible blog. They were eventually included in Scriptural scrolls, because there were not as many computers with internet connections back then. But it’s obvious, isn’t it? Those verses apply perfectly to the blogosphere.

5:31 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

I will join the multitudes in confessing I struggle with the timing issue as well, particularly with the idea that if it's good, it needs to happen right now. Too often I'm so eager to get my own opinion & agenda out there that I don't pay attention to whether or not it's a good idea for right now. Time to leap back into Proverbs!

7:06 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Gorgeous work, Charity.

I have learned so much about "proper timing" this year in my own life, specifically "waiting on God". I am beginning to rest in that, which, for me, is a brand new thing.

8:14 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

I resonated with this post in relation to the whole blog thing, too, so it was encouraging to read what Heather wrote once I came to check out the comments.

The way it is most difficult for me is that there are so many great people who have so many great thoughts and then so many MORE great people who have so many MORE great thoughts in response to those original ones, which they then go on to post in comments! (I spoke of this to you a bit when you were here in Florida.)

It can all be quite overwhelming to keep up with after a while. So, while my intentions are good to "keep up" and "be a good contributor/citizen of the world," I end up going into hiding sometimes or just paring back considerably for a while.

Part of me tends to think it's a matter of not trying so hard to meet every person on every level -- that more would be accomplished to the good if we remain true to the passions God implanted in us and encourage others along those lines when possible. (This, again, if along the lines of part of our conversation from your visit -- the different streams and felt needs each of us can enter into with our lives, which are different than others' streams.)

And then I guess when He shows up and expands our territory in some new direction because of something someone else says, well, then it's His timing then, I guess, which makes perfect sense in light of your post, now, doesn't it?

I just have to say that I have no idea if these thoughts make any sense at all. I think they are probably incohernt ramblings. However, they are said with an authentic intent to be vulnerable and helpful on this subject. Please forgive!

9:16 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ted... yes, that's the thing. I don't want to always end up doing nothing at all. I want to learn a way of wisdom that doesn't necessarily preclude action.

Craver... I hadn't thought of the blogging applications. But of course! I wonder if someone will do a study on bloggers someday and discover that we are a group who has degenerated in our ability to listen?

Kirsten... and the difficult part of this for me is that I seem to couch it in terms of "love." I need to say this to this person right now because I love them. Figuring out what is truly love motivated and what is my self-focused behavior is not always simple.

Andrea... "she who waits upon the Lord." Good thing to consider. And I reflect on what that could mean in something as simple as a conversation.

Christianne... no problem. This blog allows freewriting! I'm suspecting you'll say more in a post of your own at some point. The ideas are circling, coming together. I like it that you feel free to ramble (amble?) on my walkway over here. Perhaps most importantly, I'm thankful that the timing worked out in Florida, so we could meet in person. There will continue to be fruit from that. I just know it.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

Thank you for this. I am the kind of person who thinks too much and says too little, instead of the other way round. As a result, I often feel like I'm part of the furniture. But it's nice to know that sometimes it is ok to wait and be quiet. . . although, admittedly, sometimes it's not.

And I also thought it was a photo! Great painting, Charity!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Charity, how did I not know you were so talented? Wow. Are you a member of CIVA?

L.L., after a tough first morning back, I really needed to read some of those proverbs. Especially 19:2. Especially 18:2. Yikes.

3:00 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

Okay, first of all, Charity, that watercolor is gorgeous. What talent!

For someone who has an opinion about everything and as someone who is a "fix it" type person, proper timing is very challenging. I've had to learn (and mess up) a lot, particularly in my marriage, about the art of being silent. I guess I begin to think so highly of myself and my opinions (or think I am soooo right), that I can't help but assume every person needs to benefit from my words. But, as you point out, proper timing - particularly in recognizing when the field is too vulnerable - is paramount. And the hardest part is when the proper timing is really no time at all.

All of that said, I can definitely see the "dangers" (shall I say) of blogging for my type of personality. I should probably also exercise proper timing there too.

Thanks for the post, LL. I'm sure I'll have to write a post of my own on this soon, since this one speaks directly to me.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comedy and cooking seem to be two activities noted for their timing. But in each case, I'm not sure it can really be taught, not without at least some sense of it to begin with. This is how I see timing in relationships. I have some friendships that have developed easily -- we both has sense of the timing to start with and then learned from each other. In other relationships, the timing always seems to be off.

Funny thing about this painting and this discussion, the picture really is about timing. I don't know if you can see it, but in the upper right corner is a small sailboat, not too far from shore. The title is "Almost Home." Will the sailor make it back in time? And for what? These were the questions this painting evokes for me. These are the questions of timing in relationships that forever plague me as well. Is this the right time, and what am I really expecting anyway?

Thanks for all the compliments on the picture.

5:18 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Inihtar... so you will have to give us a post about the other side of this. (Since I doubt I'll ever have that particular problem, though I do hope to grow wiser.)

Mark... yes, this is what I love about the bible. It speaks to me about everything I need to consider (though I may not have been planning on considering these things!)

Spaghetti... I think you have focused on an important aspect. Sometimes we who speak to soon are very "fix-it" oriented. This can be a good trait in other settings. Even with relationships, should the ground be ready and requesting.

Charity... well, then, you have given me hope. I was the girl who put cinnamon in spaghetti sauce and served it to my guy (yeah, that was a long time ago). I was the one who could never get it right with the stove. Now, people look to me for cooking advice. So, maybe I can learn this too. (Oh, but can I learn to be funny? We'll see.)

And I love that about your painting's meaning. Funny I hadn't even thought about its title. But the timing (and pairing) worked out well! Maybe a little Divine mischief at play? (I think God probably plays, don't you?)

5:50 PM  
Blogger S.Hunt said...

I enjoyed reading your post. My problem with timing is that my enthusiasm gets in the way and causes me to run ahead of God, which results in me losing my way.
It's all about His timing, not ours. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn.

Have a great day!

11:53 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Hey! I like that painting too, the artist has really managed to catch the tonal values of light and dark ... Gosh! I am starting to sound like one of those art criticts from a gallery "Faaa, Faaa, Faaa! I can see what the artist is trying to say! faa, faa, faa"

Really though, it is a very clever picture and if you do not mind I will swipe a copy to add to my picture folder!

3:43 AM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for the post. It reminds me of a post I once did on the topic of listening. I'm not a good listener - sometimes we think of being a good listener in terms of a skill but I'm learning that it's more about pride and humility. The humble listen first...the proud are first to express their own opinions.

Thanks for also for highlighting Charity's watercolor. Impressive!

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin -- You have the artist's permission to swipe a copy for your folder! You also have the artist's permission to make whatever comments you like -- even if it does make you sound like an art critic.

6:02 PM  

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