Yesterday I noticed that I’ve been in a bit of a rush lately, so I decided to slow things down. I actually ate breakfast at home at my kitchen counter rather than in the van while dropping the girls off at school. It felt amazing and relaxing to simply sit and eat without rushing (I think I’d like to do that again!) Later, I skipped an after-school meeting in order to free up time for family dinner before a late evening board meeting. Given our schedules this week we’d only planned to have family dinner on two nights this week, but how amazing to be able to squeeze in a surprise one! Unfortunately I got a little too lax with time and ran late to to that board meeting, earning myself my first speeding ticket in years. Oops! Sitting on the side of the road with my wife on speakerphone, I knew that I didn’t have anyone to blame but myself. I have a bad habit of running late and it finally caught up with me, like eventually all things do.
Whenever I find myself doing the most, I seek out a reminder of what’s at stake. So yesterday I went back and reviewed a series that my pastor led years ago entitled, Finding Breathing Room. Here’s the thing: like most driven people, I am trying to tackle a lot. It’s probably not ironic that as I celebrate my 35th birthday, I’m pausing to have reflections about whether or not my life is adding up in the way that I want it to. One key refrain that I kept considering yesterday is, my life is my time and my time is my life. So am I spending my time (i.e. my life) in all the ways I want it to be spent?
Most days, the honest answer is yes. I’ve been fortunate enough to discover and embrace clear values and priorities through my own journey into adulthood and years ago began implementing systems and habits in my life to safeguard my time around those priorities. Transitioning from college to married life, to now parenthood I’ve seen my time shift accordingly as I’ve re-aligned my priorities. However, there’s always the nagging time suckers. Sometimes it’s a relationship that needs to go. Sometimes it’s an organization that needs to go. Every time it’s a decision that needs to be made about whether or not this thing is longer worth my time. Any day that I can end with a positive evaluation that the way I spent my time aligns with my values and priorities is a good day.
Another indication that has given me pause about how I’m spending my time is the sheer amount of hurry. Pace matters, and on days when I feel myself rushing, things don’t go so well. I drop a ball, appointments are missed, children get picked up late. My best days are the ones that feel like I’m moving in slow motion. Athletes best describe this as the game slowing down. It’s a wonderful feeling because you can literally see the court, field, or simply what’s in front of you, all happening in a way that you can clearly process your next move and make good decisions. For me this usually happens when I start my day early and give myself plenty of transition time between activities, meetings, or obligations. This doesn’t happen frequently enough, and sometimes I wonder if it’s simply a lifestyle choice during this season for us as parents. Still, I’ve got to pay attention more to what my body, mind, and soul is telling me about the pace of my life.
There’s a wonderful prayer that I’ve started praying to help me with all of this. It comes from Moses, a man who seemed to get the value of time, probably because he lived so long. Moses wrote: Lord, teach me to number my days so that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Another translation says, teach me to live wisely and live well. At the end of my life, what I’ll likely care about most is how I spent my time (did I accomplish what I was created to accomplish?) and who I spent my time with (my family, the people I care about). Thus far I’ve been so blessed to have great opportunities and experiences to find and pursue my various passions. And I can’t say enough about how wonderful it’s been to meet the love of my life at such a young age in college, and build a life together over these past 16 years.
As I begin the next chapter of my life, I pray for more days where the game slows down and I can make clearer and better decisions, and more days like yesterday where I can find moments to savor the choices I’ve already made.