Friday, June 10, 2011

As I rise to the surface...

There's been a new shimmer of hope in the sunrise these past few days that can only be described as Summer Vacation. Admittedly, however, the summer-hope-shimmer is somewhat dampened by the fact that I actually still have to work. I expected summer vacation to be...a vacation.

But life just goes on, without even a head nod to my expectations. May I take a moment to bow humbly before that millions of working moms out there who have decided to go back to school? I do not know how you do it, you are the closest thing to superheroes that I can imagine.

So, now that we've had a collective laugh at how busy life is, shall we take a moment to reflect?

Why is this so?

This is an old conversation. But the fact that it is so familiar, so often repeated, should tell us something. We are living busy, encumbered lives and we don't like it, but we don't know how to stop.

I have a strip of paper taped to my computer monitor that my friend Amy gave to me which says,
"The things you own end up owning you."
Do you find that inspiring or depressing?

Three years ago I bought a house because it seemed like a responsible thing to do and two years later I was horribly depressed. I hated the feeling of obligation I had to that chunk of grass and wood and I hated how I felt like I wasn't living up to the expectations of a homeowner.

I hated it so much that I actually yelled at my house.

I stood in the center of my half-finished basement and said, "No, I'm the boss! I will finish you when I want to do it!"

I walked away from that argument with lightness in my step, not because I had taken control of my life, but because I finally recognized the lie that tied me to something that really does not matter. This is just one of many lies tied up in our culture of affluence. The trouble is that we are so conditioned to listen to the lies without thinking that it is a painfully difficult process to simply say, "No, I don't want to do/own that, I don't have to, and I'm not going to."

Of course it is not that simple (especially with a family), but it is also not as complex as you might think.

Think about the next few months of your life; the amount of time dedicated to swimming lessons, weddings, meetings, volunteering, cooking for potlucks, vacations, home improvement projects, reading, social events, television, camps, etc.

Don't ask yourself if they are all "good" things, because they probably are; ask yourself if you are passionate about them. Do you feel full of life when you do them? Because these are the kinds things that are valuable enough to justify spending your very limited time. Obviously not every moment of your life is going to be energizing and exciting, but do you think perhaps you are yielding your time too easily?

Is this really a big deal? Sort of, yeah.

When you are talking about your existence on this planet, your health and your time, you don't really have a surplus. Ethically, you can argue that we have a responsibility to make good use of the limited time we have, but, ethics aside, your life is simply to important to waste on things that don't matter.
This is not about being selfish or taking "me time," I'm actually not an advocate of that concept, this is about finding the things that light you up and make you excited about living. People who are excited about living are healthy, effective, and responsible, and these are the kinds of people empowered to help others, to love, and to make the world better.

If you are a Christian, does the idea of "doing whatever you want," seem a little bit like cheating? Do you feel guilty choosing to do something you love rather than something you should do? How do you reconcile your passions to your "obligations" as a Christian?

If you're interesting in a case-study on challenging the prevailing "stuff" culture, check out Dave Bruno's 100 Thing Challenge.

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
-Henry David Thoreau


  1. I am going to feel a bit convicted as I write this, cause I know I waste time myself, but a few years back I learned to view my time as one of my resources that belongs to God.

    I am much better about finances, knowing that every cent is Kingdom money, and really being wise about where I spend it. We should do the same with our time, really question if how we spend it is worthy of our God who it belongs to. It has helped me put a lot of things into perspective, but is definitely something I am still working on.

  2. Ps :) I don't think that for the most part choosing how we spend our time should be an either or....something I love doing or something I should be doing. I think if we are creative, we can use most of the things we love to do things that honor Christ.

  3. I just made the same connection myself! As hard as it is to be wise and faithful with my money, it is even harder to be a good steward of my time. Honestly, I can always make more money, but I can't make more time.

    "Teach me to number my days!"

    I am so glad you said that! I totally believe that the Lord is delighted when His kids are delighting in the gifts he has given them.