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Time: Our Nonrenewable Resource

Updated: Jun 3, 2018

I believe time is the most precious resource we have, and none of us knows how much of it we are granted. We can only spend time. We accept the phrase “invest time,” which I understand to mean that spending time a particular way will hopefully yield some sort of positive result that will make the loss of the time it took to do the thing worth it. That is a truism, but investing time is not like most investments. Invest money, and you’ll hopefully get more money. Invest your time, and you don’t yield more of the same.

My husband has been captivated by and repeating to me since his 50th birthday two years ago a verse from Psalm 90, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” He actually counted how many weekends he would have if he lives to 80. This is a man who is already quick to jettison conventional social ought-to’s of life in favor of want-to’s, a member of the Life’s Too Short fan club. He’s taught me to be more intentional and careful with my time, helping me to pause when I’m feeling obligated to do things just because there is weird social pressure inside of me to people-please.

How we use up our time is driven by our priorities, and priorities look different based on two things: the season of life you’re living and what you value. When I valued becoming our culture’s definition of a “successful American person,” my time was spent in an office or on an airplane or in a hotel or a boardroom because the priority was excelling at my job in order to make lots of money. It took all of my time, and by extension my energy. The more miserable I became, the more my values began changing. I began to cherish my time in a new way, and I longed for a life where my time was exchanged for joy regardless of how much money was involved. It seemed like an impossibility, though. Who in their right mind would leave a six-figure income to chase an ideal? I can hear the voice of the one who places a high value on money saying, “How irresponsible can you be?! You have the ability to make the money. Why wouldn’t you?!”

I guess I didn’t seem in my right mind to most everyone who knew me back then. I suppose I might not seem like I’m in my right mind now, silk painting and starting a website and a blog. But I promise you, I’ve never had more joy, vigor, and love in my life than I do now, the very things at the top of the list of what I value. Had I not left that time-wasting life behind, I wouldn’t have had the joy of being at home to teach my youngest step-daughter; or been able to sew up lace for wedding gowns for the older two; or kept a garden or dear friendships alive. I wouldn’t have helped cook food for a bunch of kids at camp for 5 weeks. Most poignant of all, perhaps, is that I certainly would not have had the freedom or energy to be my mom’s co-pilot in helping my step-dad die at home his last nine weeks of his own time here on earth. I wouldn’t now be spending whole days at a time with her (pictured here) going to the theater and to the art museum to tour gardens and look at paintings and have long conversations over coffee about life and love and what it all means. It all takes time.

Time invested is time spent. We are never getting these minutes back. They are a finite gift. Use them wisely! I believe the best investment of our time here on earth is in whatever produces the eternal, the indestructible, the infinite. I choose joy. I choose love. And living without the six-figures is a very small price to pay in my life’s economy. I highly doubt I’ll ever make much money selling my silks, but I promise you I’d shut it down all over again if it became a thief!

This is not dress rehearsal. There is no do-over. One life, one day at a time, spent and gone forever. Make them count!

Addendum: I sat down Friday morning to write this blog post and was making good progress when our Internet crashed. Yes, it did make me chuckle, and listen, and wonder, “Was this blog writing a waste of my time…and a waste of the reader’s?!” Oh, the irony, how I love it so!

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