I love me some time off. Evenings after the workday, weekends, vacations, summer break – I will take what I can get and I will adore it. I’ve been working full time for 25 years and have learned that there’s way more to life than work.
But I have a problem. I’m a Debbie Downtime Downer. Sheepishly, I admit to you my awful habit of lamenting how much of my time off I have left when I should be enjoying it. Three days left, a week left, 5 hours left, whatever it is, I’ll zero in on the amount of time that remains instead of enjoying the Right Here, Right Now that is TODAY. It’s a dreadful practice that I am consciously working on eliminating.
There’s an alternative form of this practice also, known as Wishing Your Life away. I sometimes wake up and think “OK, it’s 10 hours until I can come home and relax” or “Only 3 more days until vacation”. I’m counting down so intently at times that I forget the gift of now I have been given, trying to rush it out of the way.
While this way of thinking may not seem particularly harmful, upon closer self-examination, I realized that it is. Without realizing it, I had been robbing myself of the joy of today. I’m taking steps to be more intentional about not obsessing over anything that isn’t today. This is not as easy as you’d think, especially since I’m a teacher and it is March. I can’t promise you that I am not longingly looking ahead to the glory and majesty of June, but I am endeavoring to embrace and enjoy the in-between.
Apologies for being painfully cliche’, but tomorrow isn’t promised. You get today when you wake up. Nothing even says you’ll make it until the end of the day. I realize this sounds fatalistic, but it isn’t intended to be. On the contrary, it is a call to action. Make every day, every moment, count.
The bible is clear on how we are to regard life and time in general. A few of my favorites include:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. –Psalm 118:24
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. -Proverbs 27:1
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. -Matthew 6:34
Some ways of managing time in such a way that we can view it as a treasure rather than drudgery include simple things like:
- STOP MULTITASKING – I know, I know. This is a tall order if you are an adult, even taller order if you are a parent. But sometimes when we are juggling too much at once, we don’t pause to look into the faces of our family and friends. I know when I pause and watch my kiddos playing or sleeping for even a moment, waves of gratitude wash over me that God has placed them in my life. Eat dinner, no TV – just chat and chew. Go to your kiddos’ activities and watch them play, don’t take work calls and answer emails. Surely we can focus, even for an hour, just on family life.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE – Even on the most miserable days of sick kids, cranky students, demanding bosses and halting traffic, there is always some reason to be thankful. Hunt for the silver lining. My kindergartner had been sick on and off for a few weeks. Mr. Earl Grey’s wonderful mom helped us out by taking him for us so after we had called out to care for him ourselves for several days. Grateful for that! On another day I had to stay home with my sick daughter. I was so thankful that I have paid sick time and was able to spend a day with my sweet girl.
- INCREASE MARGIN – I’m a real cheerleader for margin. Actually, I’m a pretty recent convert to the practice of margin. Often we lament how little time we have left to enjoy. Sometimes we wish away the time between us and time off. This is in part because we cram our lives so maddeningly full of activity. Paring down the demands we put on ourselves and allow others to impose lends itself to better enjoyment of the here and now.
- GIVE OF YOUR TIME – Yes, this may sound counter-intuitive to #3, but I am a firm believer in the amazing economy of God that says when you give, you receive. When you serve others by volunteering or serving at church, God is able to miraculously multiply your time. He has a way of maximizing the time you do have. I have personally experienced this and am always awed by the way God is able to bless my time, making me more efficient and productive.
- LOOK FORWARD WHILE BEING PRESENT – There’s no harm in anticipating something fun like a long weekend or a summer vacation. Who doesn’t get excited for such things? The problem is when we fixate on the upcoming event to a fault and lose focus on all the blessings and beauty of today. There’s no quicker way to make a good day bad than to fail to appreciate it. Even a bad day has something good if you look hard enough. It may just be that the day is over and it is time for bed. But hey, that’s still something good.
There’s no quicker way to make a good day bad than to fail to appreciate it.
Join me as I continue the journey from Debbie Downtime Downer and Wisher Away of Life to a new me, with a new way to thinking. I want to be an Embracer of the Moment. Today is truly the best time to be grateful, as we have life, breath and love at the ready.
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