While waiting to be seated for brunch last Sunday, a friend-of-a-friend from out of town was asking for podcast suggestions for her trip back home. A couple of us excitedly threw out our suggestions. Then one of our other friends immediately threw out the question "When do you even have time to listen to Podcasts?" and it got me thinking.
Well, not at the time. At the time, we all kind of nodded in understanding and said things like "I hear ya" or "Well, only when I'm traveling, obviously" but when I was reminded of this conversation again this past week, it bothered me. It made me think about how often this question has started to pop up in so many of our lives:
When do you even have time?
Life's busy. The deeper I get into my twenties and the deeper I dig roots in a rapidly growing city, the more opportunities I have to be busy. Too busy. Too busy to the point where time starts having me and I forget that I can still have time, too.
I don't want my life 's clock running on a to-do list or in chains to an iCal full of scheduled events. I think we can do better than that. In fact, I think we were designed to do better than that; we've been given the liberty to actively choose what we do with our hours, our days, our lives.
Stick with me here. This isn't a rant about not making time for podcasts. This is a written reminder to both you and me that our schedule doesn't need to be in charge of calling the shots, we do.
You are not selfish.
Last Wednesday I found myself completely exhausted. So, I cancelled my post-work plans to meet a friend for dinner. Is it because I don't value this person's friendship or time? Negative. In fact, I value her time too much to allow her to waste it with a life-sucked version of myself. When I find I'm spending my time like a to-do list rather than slowing down and keeping empty hours open, I find my life is less lively, less inspired, less generous. But when I welcome the empty hours, I take better care of myself, I'm able to be more spontaneously available to those closest to me, I give myself more freedom to read or listen to a podcast or cry to the latest episode of Parenthood. With empty hours, I find my life is full of more good: full of more meaningful thoughts, conversations, and rest and attention to God's presence that fills me and frees me in inspiring ways. I'm able to love people deeper and more wholly, to express my art more thoughtfully, to wait more patiently, to give more intentionally, to work with more purpose.
I'm back to being the boss of my time. And not with a selfish "I deserve my time and other people can deal with it" attitude, either. Although, if you're like me, thoughts like that are often what we tell ourselves people will think of us if we start to take back ownership of our time. Being a better steward of your time, being a healthier and less-robotic you, is not selfish. If you can learn to quiet the thoughts that tell you otherwise, you may find that your best intentions have not been lost.
You may find the true ache to take back your time is actually because you deeply desire to care better for your marriage, your roommate, your coworkers, the poor. You may also find it's because you desire to better utilize the gifts God's given you, the ones that have started collecting dust behind the giant Hitler-operated clock on your shelf.
A better question.
So instead of asking ourselves and one another "when do you even have the time?" try asking "are you spending your time well or is it spending you?" Ask God to meet you in that question, too. You might find your heart's much closer to His will for your time, yet the time you're spending has been at the mercy of meeting man's expectations instead.
Breathe. Admit you're tired. Make dinner and welcome your roommate to the leftovers. Listen to a podcast. Call your grandma. Or maybe just get in bed earlier.
This is something I'm constantly preaching to myself and will probably always be fighting due to the day and age we live in: resist always scheduling by the hour! Leave some weekends open, let plans last longer than intended and allow yourself to explore more without always stressing out about where you're supposed to be next.
It's time to remind yo' time who its mama is! Then start really asking God to help you spend it wisely.
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17