A couple years back, I went to the store to pick up a few things we needed for the house. I went to the express lane for people with 15 items and under, and there was a short line. The woman in front of me had all of her items on the conveyer belt, but the man who was checking out was having an issue with a price, causing a slight delay in moving forward.
When he opted to actually write a check as opposed to swipe his debit card, the woman in front of me nearly exploded. She grabbed all of her items and carried them to the next lane which looked like it was moving faster. I loaded my items on the belt, and in seconds the man’s check was written, he was out the door, and I was being rung up.
The woman who left the line was still waiting; apparently there was an issue at the register she switched to. I felt bad as I walked passed her, and could hear her distress, so I just gave her an empathetic smile and left.
Two days later I was pulling into the bank parking lot. As I pulled my car into the spot, another car zoomed into the lot and pulled through my spot (from the other side). The woman in the racing car didn’t see me pulling into the spot. Rather than cause a raucous, I opted to simply back out and pull into another space. The lot was empty after all.
The woman ran into the bank and I was behind her. She had to stop to speak with the bank manager, so I went into the teller line. A few moments later, the woman finished her conversation and entered the line, too.
Again, it wasn’t moving as quickly as the woman behind me would have liked. I could feel her impatience huffing on my back, so I turned to try to ‘break the ice’ with a smile, and strike up a conversation to make the time move faster. She wasn’t into it, and that was ok. I understood.
At that moment, the woman huffed out of the line and went out to the ATM to finish her banking. Immediately after she left, the teller opened up, quickly finished my deposit, and went on to the next customer. As I left the bank, the woman was still fiddling around with the ATM furiously.
Wow. I received the same message just 2 days apart.
There are no shortcuts. Patience pays off. There is no ‘easy way’. If you try to buck the system, you will end up still standing at the ATM.
What’s the lesson that I’m supposed to learn?
God has his own watch, and if we stay in faith, be patient with where He’s placed us, don’t move to an option that seems ‘quicker, don’t avoid the pain of the situation to take the path of least resistance, eventually the ‘line’ will open up and we will move forward.
But, patience isn’t the easiest thing for any of us, especially since time is funny.
We are all on our own schedules, I guess, but in reality we have little to no control over time vanishing. It moves as it should, not sure if it’s fast or slow, or if the speed of life is relative to how plugged into time we are.
If we’re rushing through it, time travels fast. If we’re “waiting” for the next thing, it feels like we’re stuck, which leads to impatience with our current situation. But, if we’re “in” it, truly absorbed in each moment of our lives, time simply moves from one moment to the next, and then it’s gone.
I know many people (I’ve been one of them myself) who have schedules packed from morning until night, without even a moment to just breathe. But, after I had my daughter, I noticed something -– she was “plugged in” to time, to life. No matter what she was doing, even when she was drinking her bottle, she was connected to it. She experienced the moment. She experienced every moment. My son is just the same. He is fully engaged in whatever he is doing.
In seeing the world through my children’s eyes, a profound lesson emerged –- the beauty is in every second, when we are actually experiencing time. Sometimes we don’t even realize that the hectic schedule (that we fight hard to adhere to) is actually the very thing that can completely throw off us from living to our pure potential.
I think how we schedule our lives is actually a test of our faith.
We hear a lot about time, scheduling, time management, but, I don’t believe time should be managed, because when we try to manage time, we can always find a way to fit more stuff in. And many of us do just that: we manage time, we squeeze in more and more and more responsibilities until we’re so stuffed we literally burst.
And it’s not until that breaking point that we realize, time should not be managed after all.
Navigating life is not a science of learning how to juggle more and better and faster. Rather, it’s about doing less. It’s about taking a good hard look at how we spend time and making choices about whether or not we want to continue to spend time in this way. It’s about delegating, asking for help. It’s about saying, “No” to some things and “Yes!” to others.
It’s about prioritizing and arranging our day, and eliminating those wasteful ‘time vacuums’ so we don’t inadvertently get pulled into something that we don’t need.
Time is about choice. Choice is freeing.
And the choice is ours. We can set our own terms, and we don’t need to get caught up in the “mad rush”. Even when we know something must give, it’s easy to keep thinking “next week, next month, next year will be better, will be slower”. And so, we keep going. Sometimes it’s a jolting situation that sends us running back into appreciation of life. Sometimes, it’s simply knowing that there is too much is at stake -– our relationships, our health, our bodies, our lives.
Time is a gift, and how we choose to spend our time is our love letter back to it, our ‘thank you note’, our appreciation of this miraculous, wonderful present.
I ask myself, “Do you believe it? Do you know it with every fiber of your being? Do you realize that time really is precious, that moments pass, and if you’re not plugged into them, you may miss them forever?”
And then, I remind myself…
The moment that your niece tells you about her friend on the playground – savor it.
The moment that you take the first sip out of your morning coffee – taste it.
The moment that your neighbor tells you a story about his lawn – enjoy it.
If my schedule is too packed, I may miss these moments entirely. Yes, how we schedule our lives is a test of our faith, but many of us don’t want to take that test.
I’ve heard all the reasons why it’s impossible – I’ve thought about them all myself. I’m not judging; I think we all at some point fall victim to being the thieves of our own lives – stealing the joy, the beauty, the miracle from ourselves in order to run the rat race.
I try to take my running shoes off, and walk barefoot in the grass. I love life with less running, dashing, juggling. But sometimes, it happens. I rush. And then I try to correct it – I wonder if ever it was too late? I’m certain there were times I rushed so much, I missed the fact that I hurt someone, didn’t look them in the eye, didn’t really listen well. And the moment is gone, the feelings are not, and sadly, I may never know all the times I left wreckage behind in my rushing. Time is not a renewable resource after all. So I try, I try to rush less and (hopefully) have less to correct afterward.
I mean, I think it’s just wonderful to bake a loaf of fresh bread, walk it over to our neighbors, and sit down to actually eat it together. To me, this is living. These are the memories, the tiny threads of experience that weave us all together as humanity.