On my wall, I have pictures of things I want to accomplish in my life. One is of me happily hugging a clock. Why? Because I have had a rocky relationship with time. However, I want to have a better relationship with time.
I know this is possible because I used to have a terrible relationship with money. After cleaning up my money stories, using tools, and lots of practice, I finally became friends with money. We still have moments when we fall out of our friendship, but those moments are rare and don’t last long.
After years of work, I was able to take the photo of me hugging a dollar bill off my wall and put it in the book that contains all the important and beautiful things I have accomplished.
I must confess that this photo of me with time has been on my wall for over a decade. Yikes. I have had access to fewer resources than I had with my money issues. So, although I have practiced what I know, I have made less progress. I have prayed a lot!
Over a six or seven-year period, with God’s help, I created a daily worksheet that is very helpful for me. However, it hasn’t completely resolved my rocky relationship with time, although it has helped. I have continued to pray because I am certain that time and I are destined to be friends!!! Recently, I had an experience that was very moving and which, in time, led to a most enlightening thought.
Let’s begin with the experience.
In my church, we have a class called Finding Strength in the Lord: Emotional Resilience. I decided to take it. My husband said he would take it with me. Many of the chapters covered things I have already worked out in over 30 years of self-healing.
But Chapter 4 – Managing Stress and Anxiety was not one of them. Here is why. This chapter is built on the foundation principle – Use Time Wisely. There it was, my nemesis, time. As we read through the material, I saw myself, but I wasn’t seeing answers. Nothing new. Nothing I hadn’t tried.
Then we watched a video of a beautiful woman in Africa. She was sharing with a young man how she used her time, how she determined what to do with her time, and how she was able to do what she did each day and still serve others. I could relate with her instantly because those are the challenges of my life, knowing what order to do things in and how to serve better so that I feel my day was well used. Her counsel to the young man was life-changing for me from the moment I heard it. You can watch this short and moving video HERE.
I wrote down what she said in a small notebook which I keep with me as I pray each morning, so I don’t forget the important things. First, I ask God to consecrate my efforts that day. I did some research to make sure I knew what this meant. It means to make or declare sacred or to dedicate for a sacred purpose. Imagine folding laundry, checking on a neighbor, or cooking breakfast as a sacred purpose.
Then I commit to doing my very best. If I do my best, then God can make my effort sacred. That was so uplifting to me.
Then I ask God to do what I can’t. At the end of each day there are so many things I didn’t get finished and others that I did, but not as well as I hoped. Knowing that He can make up the difference in my less-than-perfect efforts felt relieving.
Then I ask who I can serve. Of course, I am already serving in my 4-generation home but now and then someone will come to my mind. Text so and so. Call so and so. So and so needs help with _______. Recently I had this thought, “Drive to so and so’s house and give her a hug. She needs one.” It is never convenient, but I am learning to listen and respond better. The goal is to do what matters most even if a myriad of other things don’t get done!
In fact, learning to listen is pivotal in managing time. Notice I have handwritten that word on the list. : ) I must be honest that this is an ongoing process for me. I want to rush to the next thing but if I will stop and listen, I really do manage better.
Then I ask God to help me order my tasks for the day. I can feel the direction I get. Sometimes I go through an entire day and get none of my ‘stuff’ done because I was busy doing His stuff. I am learning to be OK with that. Again, it is not easy for me. LOL
The video of this sweet African woman was the experience that led to the amazing thought. Can I say here that none of the information in the video was completely new to me, but it pierced my heart in a new way? And the thought that came a few weeks later wasn’t new either, but as it came, I saw in my mind’s eye, what I already knew, differently.
Here it is – “Being a friend to time doesn’t mean getting it all done each day. It means getting all the best things done! It is a matter of perception and priority.” I added that to my self-portrait with time because I know it is something I must understand better.
Has life turned around? No. Do I still struggle with all there is to do on some days? Yes. Do I have to make myself put the best first? Yes. Am I successful with this regularly? Not yet! There is no magic here. But I can feel change occurring in my way of being. Here is what that looks like.
Notice on my list, under night prayer – REPORT and ask questions. Many of you know that one of my most consistent and longest-running self-care items has been to take a shower each night. After I read the book Sabbath, a fabulous non-denominational book, I began praying for someone as I showered. It felt lifting after a long day to care about someone else’s need enough to pray for them. Now, when I am done praying for someone else, I report how the day went. Some days I tell God that it sucked. I am blunt with Him, and he is blunt with me. It works. : ) I let Him know the days when I feel less than because of what I didn’t do or hear. I celebrate with Him the days that shine when I feel on top of the world.
In every case, I end my shower feeling OK because I am assured in my heart that no matter how the day looked or felt, I did my best as I promised I would. And I know that He has made up the difference and that whatever I have been able to do has been made sacred.
This has begun to change my relationship with time. Is the picture still on the wall? Yes. I have many miles to go before I can put this to sleep. I am just scratching the surface of this relationship, but I am learning, and I am changing. I am satisfied for now.
I wanted to share because I know that many of you also struggle in your relationship with time.
Begin to think differently about time.
P.S. I am writing this some weeks after I wrote the rough draft of this article.
I feel compelled to be honest. For the first few months, I did so much better. Then last week I hit a snag. By Saturday I had decided that I would not go to church. I needed a day with NO responsibilities or appointments. I was feeling a great weariness. I knew I was standing on a cliff edge and needed a break. I felt that time had treated me poorly.
But the next morning when I woke up Don had awakened just a few minutes before me, and we were both wide awake. That never happens on Sunday. We decided to go to church. Because of the decision to go to church, I was able to bless three lives in very different ways. Maggie, my granddaughter, was able to go to Primary which she loves. Her aide, Tracy was able to attend a family gathering, and Jodie was able to go to a different church building with a friend.
That was wonderful but when I got home, the feelings from the night before caught up with me and I came completely undone. There was an issue that I couldn’t resolve, and I had no reserve to tide me over while I worked on it. I was so undone that my sweet husband came into the room, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “I am going to say a prayer for you.” I had been praying in my mind continually since I had begun falling apart and I was crying, a thing I rarely do. But Don’s prayer was the needed extra and I was able to resolve the problem a short time later.
When We Really Are Doing Our Best to Manage Time Well, God Will Bless Us!
I have been trying to give myself a day off for Mother’s Day. Every Mother’s Day for over fifty years I have asked for a day off – no cooking, no serving, time to myself, you know. : ) I have never been given that gift. I get cards, flowers, breakfast in bed, the traditional gifts.
This year I decided to give it to myself. However, we had a couple of large, unexpected medical bills and a few other unexpected expenses. It is also our anniversary month. Our daughter gifted us a couple of days at a BnB, but I needed to make sure we had funds to eat out, etc.
When I realized that I would need to forgo giving myself a day and night off for Mother’s Day my brain went to work. I asked Jodie if she would be using the office on Friday and Saturday. She said it was free. I thought about how I could go to the office write and do the things I hoped to do on my Mother’s Day off. There were questions – could Don cook six meals and bring food out to me without needing help? Could he manage Mom and her needs? Would the grands be able to forgo asking me to cut a shirt, fix a button, glue a broken item, or take them somewhere?
This morning Jodie asked me if I was still going to use the office and how could she help make it work. We had a long conversation. Later that day I received a message from my sister offering me her home for the Mother’s Day weekend. She and her husband would be gone. WHAT!
As poorly as the last week and a half have gone, as challenged as I have been to keep my time perspective in order, and even though I had a meltdown, God was blessing me for my efforts because I really had been doing my best to manage my time despite how it looked. He was consecrating my efforts as poor as they may have been. He was making up the difference!!
Why am I sharing this and not leaving this article on that hopeful note above?
Because this is real life we are talking about. A change of heart and a changed mindset take time. And even as the changes begin to happen things can and do go south. Then we must pick ourselves up, throw away the whip we want to beat ourselves with, take a breath, smile, and begin again.
The next day, last Monday, I was back on track, feeling powerful and in control, and making progress. I was smiling at time, and we were glad to be working together. Tuesday we were still on friendly terms. : ) As I have said so many times – Growth is up and down but if we don’t quit, we will win!! Time and I are destined to be friends!
As I put the final touches on this week’s article, I am doing it from my Mother’s Day Retreat; it is Friday. I am alone. It is quiet. I have space to breathe and rest. I hope that your Mother’s Day, despite any ups and downs you have had in the last week, will be blessed.
I loved the video and the counsel. Despite the occasional down day, week, month, or even year, I am making progress. Time and I smile more at one another than we frown. : )
When the rough draft was written this wasn’t a Mother’s Day post. Funny how that worked out. LOL
Happy Mother’s Day