That’s the word God gave me for 2020. I’ve never asked for a word before, and this one suited me so well with my busy life. I’m that type of person who takes a gift of time and fills it with responsibility. For example, I move from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo; trade my one-and-a-half-hour commute to work for a 12-minute one; and go from a family of five to being an empty nester – so, I volunteer to be the Editor of a community newspaper! I’ll have time, I promised Hubby (citing all the reasons just listed).
Over the course of the year, while teaching full time and filling the responsibilities as a Content Editor of a newspaper which prints over 7000 copies, I have attempted to realign my priorities and now use my ‘spare’ time more wisely. I wake up early and start my day with quiet devotion, I watch less TV and read less books which are fruitless, I try to spend more “quality” time with my husband, and I started this blog.
During the last couple of months, however, I have felt a distinct nudge to put more effort into my writing; less journalistic in nature, and more inspirational and encouraging; and for that I need TIME. I have enjoyed the editing, the opportunity to write articles, and the relationships I have made through my time with the paper. I have also learned a lot about journalism, and the role has pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways. However, it is time for me to let go of some of the things that fill my time. I let my Board of Directors know that I was stepping down.
Anticipating the extra time I’ll gain when the position is filled, I have put renewed energy into fine-tuning a Christian Living manuscript that I have been working on for the past two years, have joined an online writers’ community, and have been participating in writing workshops and reading books about writing.
Have you ever found yourself praying, “God, can you just stop time for 6 minutes so I can be on time for church this one morning?” That was me last Sunday. I get up two and a half hours before the service begins and my commute is 9 minutes. Nine. Yet, the number of times I have been in that seat before the service started… well, I can count them on one hand. Clearly, I need to readjust how I use that pre-church time.
The funny this is I do get to work on time each day. Hmmm.
Add time vs Prioritize time
Sometimes our prayer is not to stop time but to add some. If only I had a couple more hours in the day, I could… fill in the blank here. Most of us have things we could write in that blank.
In his book, The Relentless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer points out that the solution to an over-busy life is not more time. It’s to slow down and simplify our lives around what really matters.
Time for others
And there’s the key, isn’t it? Identifying what really matters. As a daughter of God, what really matters is living a life of love. He wants me to use my time in a loving way.
Who and what do I love? I love God. I love my husband. I love my children. I love my parents, my siblings, my extended family, even my in-laws. I love my friends. People are what matters.
What motivates a lot of our time-consuming activities (those minutes outside of our jobs which help put food on the table and prevents the bank from taking our houses)? The love of money (greed), the love of accomplishment (pride), the love of entertainment (e.g. Netflix-bingeing), the love of pleasure… All those time-eaters steal my precious minutes where I could be showing love to the people on my list.
That nudge to write I mentioned above is not motivated by a desire to see my name on the cover of a best-selling book on a shelf at Indigo (although that would be pretty sweet!). That nudge is from God, my Father. I have a message in my heart that He wants me to share. Out of love. Love for people. Love that comes from Him.
Time for myself
Filling my time with busyness that is not motivated by love is just self-destructive. God wants his daughters to add another name to that list of people we love: ourselves. He tells us in Mark 12:31 to love our neighbour as ourselves. That means He wants us to love ourselves too. Rushing around and constantly being busy, putting off the things we know would be more beneficial in the long run (calling my mom, reading my Bible, volunteering at the food bank, preparing that book for publishing), is taking a toll on our health.
Sleep: A waste of time
I often find myself counting how many hours I feel is the minimum amount I need for sleeping to determine my bedtime. Listening to my body and going to bed when I’m tired is not a consideration. There’s just too much to do. Sleeping seems like a waste of time.
I read this week that before the invention of the lightbulb, most people slept 11 hours per day! They went to bed at sunset and got up at sunrise. Did the thought ever cross their minds that they were wasting at least five hours of their day when they could get other things done? We have scraped back those hours at a cost. Our bodies are tired.
If we truly loved ourselves as daughters of God, we would eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of rest, pamper ourselves occasionally, and prioritize the relationships that feed our soul.
The clock ticks quietly beside me as a reminder that time marches on. My condo is filled with boxes of Christmas decorations waiting for unpacking. But they can wait. I wanted to share my heart with my readers. Love for God and love for others – they are my priority right now.
As the busy Christmas season begins, let’s try extra hard to realign our priorities and spend time with those we love. Even if that means interacting with our loved ones through a computer screen. Virtual connections are still a gift of our attention and an expression of our love.
We don’t need more of it. We just need to use it better.