I took a break from writing for a while. I’m sure all of my loyal, devoted readers…I mean reader (love you mom!), probably noticed. I would like to say there was a strategic reason for this lapse, but there wasn’t. I had every intention of writing and simply couldn’t make it happen. I kept telling myself, I’ll probably have more time next week, then I’ll start again.” Or maybe the next week, or the next week, etc…
I was buying into the myth of finding time.
You know that feeling when there’s something that you really should do. Something that you know you need in your life, that you just don’t seem to have time for. And you keep telling yourself, “One day I’ll find the time to do that.” Well, I’m going to drop some hard truth on you… no, you won’t. You will never “find” time in your schedule for anything more than what you already do. In all of history no one in mankind has ever discovered extra hours to add into his day. No matter how long we live on this earth, we will continue to discover again and again that it still takes the earth 24 hours to spin on it’s axis, no more and no less.
I know people who are legitimately very busy and their lives are scheduled to the hilt. I also know people who do virtually nothing for most of their day. They will both tell you that they are very busy. The only difference is, the first may tell you while driving from one appointment to another and the latter will tell you from his couch while he watches The Price Is Right. But they will both tell you the same thing, “I couldn’t possibly fit anything else into my schedule right now.” And the weird thing is they both feel like it’s true.
Sometimes Erin and I will look back on those days before we had our first kid and we immediately think…what in the world did we do with all that time? But the truth is, we always felt like we had absolutely no time and that we were way over-stretched. And, now with four kids, we have about ten times more responsibilities at home and even more on our shoulders at work and have yet to “find” any additional hours to throw into our day. It turns out that the time to do all of this new stuff was there all along, it was just being filled by other things. Mostly less meaningful things.
About 2000 years ago a guy named Paul, who probably accomplished more in one day than most of us will accomplish in our lifetime, wrote this to the church meeting in Ephesus, ”Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” In other words, don’t be stupid. Take control of your time or it will take control of you. And, since the world is bent in a way that naturally draws us away from God rather than towards Him, if you just go with the flow it will inevitably lead you away from the way you were made to live in relationship to God, others, ourselves and the world as a whole. It will lead you away from joy and fullness. It will rob you of life.
An empty hour is like a magnet that draws to itself every kind of nonessential, low-priority task that you can imagine. If you don’t plan on how you will spend them they will inevitably fill up with whatever is right in front of you, whether it’s important of not. So, it’s time to stop waiting around to find time and start making time for the things that really matter and are important to you.
Erin’s a planner, and as such, she’s is a big fan of doing practical things like a time budget. This is where you write out the hours that you put into various different things during the week so you can evaluate them and set goals and whatnot. That’s probably the responsible way to do this kind of thing. I prefer to just dive right in. If there’s something that I really believe should be part of my life, and it’s a high priority, I just start doing it and let it push my schedule around a bit. I usually end up reevaluating and making little adjustments here and there but nine times out of ten I find I still get to everything else in my schedule, at least all the things that I really needed to get to.
Every once and a while it will cost you something you enjoy. Something that you like to do that’s simply not as important as the thing you know you need to do. At that point it’s a decision about priorities. Be a grown up and make the sacrifices that you need in the short-term for your long-term health, growth and fulfillment. Maybe you’ll be able to add it back in later. But usually the things you lose are the things you hardly notice and won’t even miss…like a few extra hours of tv, facebook, daydreaming and feeling sorry for yourself because you “just can’t find the time” to do what you know you should…