Lately I've been thinking about time. My time. I'm the type of person who desperately longs for a free day. Finally one will come along and I fill it with stuff. Yay. However, at the end of the day I'll often look back and take stock of all the stuff and I'm rarely satisfied because the list of things I wanted
to do was taken over by things I felt like I needed
to do because I'm big on getting the monotonous, work related things out of the way before I relax. This is what happens:Brain:
I think I'll make some tea and read for a bit. Yeah that'd be nice.Exit to kitchen.Brain:
Oh but there are all these dirty dishes just sitting here. Maybe I'll do those first.Other part of Brain:
I thought so.Other part of Brain:
Hey while your at it...why not tidy up the dining room too. I mean it's right there next to the kitchen.Brain:
That's true.Other part of Brain:
It'll only take a sec. And then maybe you can pick up a just a few things in the living room.Brain:
Well I was going to make tea and read...but your right it'll only take a sec...Brain and Other part of Brain exit still talking.
Two and a half hours later I've cleaned the whole house, organized the basement and filed bills. And I'm cranky and frustrated that my time was taken from me...by me. Now usually I just let this crankiness sit right below the surface and move on to the next thing, but lately I've been realizing that I need to make a shift in how I see my time.
This is definitely just not something I just realized out of the blue. This whole time thing was pointed out to me recently when I was reading a section in The
, C.S. Lewis diabolical dialogue between two lesser devils about a specific "patent's" temptation.
In it Screwtape, the elder tempter, is advising his nephew to encourage in his patient an attitude of possessiveness. Screwtape basically remarks that any time a person can be convinced that they have a rightful claim to something, or are owed something that they are one step closer to Hell. It really made me think. In the book the guy that they are trying to tempt, like most of us, has inclinations in this possessive direction that these devils are trying to exploit. Here's what Screwtape has to say:"Now you will notice that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he was looking forward to a quiet evening)...that throw[s] him out of gear. [This] angers him because he regards his time as his own and feels it is being stolen. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of 24 hours. You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if questioned even we can not find one shred of argument in it's defense. The man can neither make, nor retain on moment of his time; it all comes to him by pure gift. He is also, in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy (God); and if the Enemy appeared to him and demanded that total service, even for one day, he would not refuse...and he would be relieved almost to the point of disappointment if for one half hour in that day the Enemy said 'Now you may go and amuse yourself.'"
This really struck me and I've been trying not to forget it. It's hard because I'm so ready to set up expectations about my
time and what I'm
going to do. It's hard to break the habit. When I do forget I'm usually just setting myself up for disappointment. Because things happen. People call, events change, circumstances beyond my control intervene.
I had an example of this a week or so ago. Jacqui and I went to Grand Rapids to see our friends Morgan Dave and Mike in a play. We were excited. We'd been looking forward to this trip and to seeing them on stage for months. When we arrive there was a huge blizzard and the show was canceled. So disappointing. We felt robbed and it seemed understandable to feel this way. It seemed perfectly natural that we should be angry. In those situations it seems justifiable to grumble, complain and feel stolen from. It's so sneaky because it ends up being when I'm cranky and upset that the true moments of joy really are stolen.
So yeah. Time. It's just something I've been thinking about lately. Any thoughts?