I struggle a lot with how I manage my time. There are so many good ways to spend my time. The problem though is learning when to do which of all those good things. And there are also a number of things I could do that are just dumb and wasteful and useless. King David’s son, Qoheleth said it so well,
“…Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2,3) In my bible, the side note explains that “Vanity of vanities” is a Hebrew superlative expressing the supreme degree of futility and emptiness.
I hear you Q man. What’s the point of spending time cleaning the dishes after a meal if the kids are just going to be hungry and want to eat again right after I’m done putting them away? And why even bother putting the toys away at night when they’ll just get scattered around the house again the next day?
The time I’ve been given is incredibly precious and I should strive to make the best use of it while it’s been given to me. The problem is that I tend to over think and obsess over things a little too much especially with time. I have so many great ideas and plans in my head but not enough time to get it all done. Then I feel really guilty if I spend time doing something silly or unimportant when I could have gotten something else more important done instead. I unfortunately have not figured out how to convince God that all mothers should automatically be given the gift of bi-location. I complain to my husband about not having enough time to get things done but then pack my plate up with more than I can swallow.
It’s especially tricky when I have some random quiet alone time. Baby is napping, another is occupied or watching a movie, another is in school…freedom! Moments like these few and fleeting. What should I do first?
I can’t make any phone calls or do anything noisy in the kitchen lest my very light sleeper baby is woken up prematurely from his usually short nap. I could paint that picture I’ve been painting in my head for the past year. I could knit that sweater…I could work on a writing project or catch up on bills and other ‘computer errands’. I could blog but I really should also catch up on other people’s blogs and catch up on commenting. (Blog commenting is a whole blog post relating to vanity in itself.) And then of course there’s facebook. The biggest time-wasting communication tool of all time. Then there’s all the many ‘work-at-home’ money-making opportunities to distract and tempt me. Multi-tasking is both a gift and a curse. I can do many things at once but usually one of those many things is not done as well as it could have been done if I would have focused on just that.
I want to BE and DO so many things all at once.
BUT, I NEED to BE and DO what GOD wants me to be and do.
I only wish He could send me a daily task list. Wouldn’t that be easier than me wasting time guessing discerning what I think He wants of me.
In my Magnificate today, the Venerable Pope John Paul II (the Great!) explains that ”The speaker in the Ecclesiastes reading is not being sincere, but rather cynical and sarcastic.”
But, “The meaninglessness of time and the nihilism of life that he deplores are overcome by answering one question: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ ‘Jesus Christ is the center of history. God entered the history of humanity. Through the incarnation God gave human life the dimension that he intended man to have from his first beginning”
As cynical and sarcastic as Qoheleth may have been. I think he really hit it spot on when he observed that everything in time has a place and an order.
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
My life does have order. That order may change day to day and even minute by minute. But in all of it, I have to remember that my life has a purpose. “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeer 29:11)
Right now it may not seem like washing the dishes or picking up toys over and over again matters, or that facebook and blogs and taking the time to read and comment on other’s blogs matters. But it all matters. Everything. (side tangent: For Lost fans: anyone remember who said something like that and when?)
I think prayer is the only way I’ll have the best chance of accomplishing that purpose that God has for me. If I give him my day in the mornings then I can hope that he will give me the strength and wisdom I need to accomplish what He wants of me. And He can take everything I do, even my time on facebook, and make it good.
Ok, now I’m going to stop ignoring my starving children and make lunch. (we had a late breakfast)