Time Wasted & Time Well Spent

When I was a teenager I heard a powerful sermon entitled ‘The Economy of Time’. It was about how we use our time, and how all the little 5, 10, 20 minute slots in our day add up to our whole life. Basically the same idea behind ‘if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves’. I loved this message and I’ve never forgotten it.

That day, true to my nature of looking at life as black and white, I started scrutinising my life in a new way. I was constantly asking the question ‘is this worth my time?’

This week, I’ve been convicted and felt like a bit of a hypocrite. I’ve been reading The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m well into the second book. Doing anything but reading the books are resented, and yes, I want to be Katniss Everdeen!

So why the feelings of hypocrisy, just for reading a fad trilogy? A few years ago, a friend of mine was reading a 12 part book series (a trilogy TIMES FOUR!). The books were sci-fi and really thick, and it took him forever to finish all of them. We would often read together, except I was reading self-help Christian books. I gave him a hard time for devoting so much time to reading these books, when he could be reading Christian ones like me! Because I was sooo holy (can you see my nose stuck up in the air?). I genuinely couldn’t understand his willingness to spend so much time reading these books. His defence was that he had spent enough time reading Christian books and this was a nice escape.

I was young and in love with Jesus. I thought him reading that much fiction was a complete waste of time because it wasn’t going to equate to anything, and therefore he was losing hours of his life. I felt the same about television. When I moved to London I stopped watching TV because I was ‘too busy and too important’. I was either out and about, being productive or asleep. I saw TV and reading novels as a waste of time, which is sad, because I love reading.

But I was young and that’s the stage I was at, it was just a season. I was eager to learn how to live in God’s ways and have the best life I could, and saw anything that would distract me from that uworthy of my attention. Which isn’t all bad, there was just an air of inbalance.

I think I’ve balanced things out a bit more now. I still like a good Christian book occasionally, but it has to be renowned and highly recommended, because I’ve fried my brain with too many in the past. Recently, I’ve rekindled my old love of novels and let myself spend hours reading them. No, for that time I’m not doing anything highly productive, but I am stimulating my brain and imagination with words. IT’S SO AWESOME.

Now I can understand that my friend simply enjoyed those books, and that alone is enough. The riveting storylines captivated his imagination, and allowed him to temporarily experience another world. Who doesn’t love doing that? I know I do, because sometimes reality is mundane. I love going to the cinema, I love reading a good novel, and I love watching my favourite programs online every week. All in moderation. I’ve finally accepted there isn’t anything wrong with that; these things are a form of relaxation and enjoyment. Therefore it isn’t time wasted, it’s time well spent!

I’ve been thinking a lot about stages and seasons recently, and there is a blog post to follow next week focused on this topic as a whole. Have you noticed a change in season in your life the same way I have with reading and watching TV? Do you think it’s a waste of time doing these things? Leave a comment!

Discovering My Skill

I always want to learn lots of things and be able to do lots of different things. In the past it was based on wanting to be someone other than myself; acquiring skills that God never created me to do.

As I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin and grown up a little, I don’t want to learn just everything and anything any more. I still have a desire to be better and know more, but I want to learn specific skills that can be effectively used and applied in and through my life. Skills that can help, encourage and bless people. I don’t want to spend my precious time, energy and focus on trying to be someone else or learn someone else’s skill. I want to discover me and my life without wasting time.

But then I guess that’s how you learn and you grow and that’s how I am where I am today; by wasting a little bit of time to get to a conclusion. Which doesn’t make it waste AT ALL, it makes it beautiful life-giving experience, even if it’s hard, confusing or painful at the time. This is life: painfully beautiful.

What I was really trying to say in that ramble is that I don’t want to spend my life being anyone but myself, but it’s taking me time to figure out who exactly ‘myself’ is.

I like the way the late Steve Jobs puts it:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”