A common theme that others have shared with me recently is their lack of time. “If only I had more time to…” “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to…” “How do I make the most of the time I have left?”
This is certainly not a new issue; people have been wrestling with this since the beginning of time. I know that for me, even as a young child, I would find myself unnecessarily rushing through things and sometimes making errors (especially when doing my math assignments!) because I felt a certain amount of urgency… time was slipping away, so I’d better hurry.
The intensity of this challenge became even more apparent for me personally several weeks ago as I turned another year older. Thankfully, I had a scheduled trip to the west coast to visit my family, as well as some days intentionally set aside to be unplugged from technology, which afforded me the opportunity to pause time so that I could catch up with it.
You can’t do that.
Oh, but I did… although, not in the way I anticipated!
My natural inclination is that, when a challenge arises, I research what others have to say about it. No need to recreate the wheel, times a’ wastin’! Thus, I found myself quickly drawn to New York Times bestselling author Juliet Funt’s book, “A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, And Do Your Best Work.” As I quickly scanned through the opening pages, the premise of the book seemed solid, and I could see that, in the later chapters, it offered what appeared to be some practical suggestions. Yet, as I read it, something felt lacking.
So, I turned to another book that a friend recently told me about: “No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)“ by Kate Bower, who is also a New York Times bestselling author. It, too, was intriguing, but something still felt unsettled inside of me as I tried to figure out how to organize my time. What should my priorities be? What could I let go? What should I do?
Since my research did not seem to be working, I resolved to press on… actively seeking any opportunity where I could carve out space so that I might gain new clarity and/or insight as to how I should approach time.
As timing would have it, that very same afternoon, as I walked into my brother’s kitchen in Washington state, my young nieces (12 and 10) and nephew (6) asked me if I wanted to join them in playing with their playdough. I didn’t waste a skinny minute. I quickly sat down at the kitchen table with them, hoping that, through mushing the dough between my fingers, I could perhaps get a better grasp of time, or at least have some fun trying!
As my nephew busily made a banana and a rolled-up burnt pancake (left image), I wasn’t sure what to do with the blank space sitting in front of me. So, I decided to start by making a daisy flower because they bring me joy… then two daisies… then three… then grass… and then, finally, adding a berry bush that one of my nieces made for me.
As I worked on the final pieces of my now “art” project, I was only marginally aware of how much time had gone by, other than I knew that dinner would be coming soon, so I’d have to finish up. Yet, I wasn’t quite ready. In order for my playdough time to be “officially finished” in my mind, I needed to add some sort of word or phrase to my picture, but what was fitting?
Peace? Joy? Love? As I visualized how each of them would look, none felt right.
Then, suddenly, “Abide in Me…” popped into my mind, and I found myself filled with a great sense of peace… “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” – John 15:4
Prior to my playdough time, I knew that I could not slow time or regain time. However, it was in that moment when I was humbly reminded that I had been trying too hard to control time on my own terms rather than abiding (also translated as continuing, staying, remaining) in God.
Once I invited God back to be my “time management partner,” I was able to return to the two books I had started, both offering me new insights as well as practical suggestions (I commend them both to you!).
Praise be to God for providing me the space to catch up and re-establish my relationship with time.
May all be well,
Karen H. Webster
HSHC Cofounder/Executive Director