I’ve been thinking about the concept of time lately. Of course one could write a philosophical discourse on what time really is or means, what transcends time, and how time feels so slow sometimes while at other moments years and even decades can pass without notice. But my own contemplation involves the phrase I continually hear from others (and I, too, have been guilty of saying it): “I’m just so busy.”
Have you noticed that people seem to use this more as an excuse than an explanation? It’s almost as if a rationalization of our hurried lives will ease the nudge of our conscience that tells us something is awry with that statement.
In the past, I have accepted it at face value without giving it much thought. But after Sarah was born with a rare chromosomal anomaly called Apert Syndrome.and some people would offer the “I’m-too-busy” phrase as an inappropriate interjection in conversation, I began to feel awkward. There would be a pregnant pause afterwards, in which, I am certain, the look on my face was a dead giveaway that I just didn’t buy it. In turn, the other person would often quickly change the conversation or try to give me some long monologue about why they were so busy. I would just listen.
Then I received a pamphlet in the mail this week from our pastor published by Our Sunday Visitor about the concept of stewardship. The excerpt on “sharing time” was especially pertinent to my musings about why we all say we are overly busy ad nauseum. Here is what I read that really convicted my heart:
How we use our time says much about what we value and where our priorities are. Time for God, family, for others, for ourselves: when all are balanced well, we feel our lives are in order. If one element of our use of time falls out of balance, life seems unmanageable and out of sorts. Are you being a good steward of the minutes, hours, days, months and years that God is giving you?
This hit the nail on the head. While stating “I’m just so busy” is almost always speaking truth, I’ve learned that it has become a hollow excuse for why we aren’t reaching out to those in need, why we aren’t stretching ourselves beyond the ordinary, the comfortable, and the familiar. And because it isn’t a lie, we aren’t inclined to look more deeply at the cognitive dissonance in that statement as it pertains to our guilty conscience.
When I am overwhelmed, exhausted, unable to focus clearly and then the phone rings or someone knocks at the door, my natural impulse is to hide in my shell and ignore it. At times, I have done this. But more and more, I hear the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II in the back of my mind saying, “We must give out of our sustenance, not out of abundance.” To me, this means saying, “yes” to those spontaneous moments when I am feeling inconvenienced, while God is gently nudging me to respond in love. He is reminding me of the Cross and that true love involves self-denial, sacrifice, and dying to our own will and desires.
It’s easy to give generously when my cup is overflowing, but it’s much more of a challenge when I am feeling weak, empty, and broken, when I am tired or troubled in some way. But which is more valuable: the woman who gave two small coins, which was all she had to her name, or the rich man who gave much more in monetary valuebut which didn’t put much of a dent in his bank account? God is calling us out of ourselves and our selfish natures to give all that we are and all that we have to Him in total trust so that he may direct and guide our actions each day.
And that is how the question of time and how we use it comes full circle: the minutes, the hours, the days, the months that pass us by can be so fleeting. How are we using our time? Are we wasting it upon what is comfortable and selfish, or are we available to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, even when we feel like doing so is an imposition?
Here is one of my favorite Scripture verses from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
I pray every day that I will say “yes” to all that God asks of my time, though I know I fall short more often than not. But when a new day dawns, my prayer remains the same – that I will start anew and pray for the grace to know, desire and follow his will that day, no matter how great or small that may be. To give of our time is to be available to God every moment of every day.
(© 2014 Jeannie Ewing)
Jeannie Ewing is a stay-at-home mom to Felicity, 3, who has Sensory Processing Disorder, and Sarah, 1, who was born with Apert Syndrome. Jeannie and her husband, Ben, blog at Love Alone Creates to chronicle their family’s journey with two little girls who have special needs, as well as other musings about faith, family, and daily life. Jeannie is currently writing a faith memoir that showcases the miraculous events surrounding Sarah’s birth as it pertains to her personal faith and family life.