Do we ever really have enough time in our lives to do what we want to do? So, there seems to be two valid yet disqualifying answers when we really think about our lives. Yes, we always have plenty of time to do what is needed. At the same time, do we ever truly do what we ought to do? The answer to the second question seems to be a resounding, “no!” For me personally, I find a multitude of items to fill the space, and none of them ever completely fill the void. Instead seemingly prolong an internal agony I feel constantly by not placing the most primary goals and items in my life in the appropriate order. Deep down the worst part is I really do know where I need to be, but my laziness, and indeed acacia have proven to get the better of me. I know a deep recognition resides in the most quiet and resolute places of my soul. Those places which recognize God as being my sole purpose in life, but instead of keeping his love and presence as front and center to my everyday actions, I find I seek out, with what time I have something other than the truth as a replacement. So, when I do finally realize my shortcoming, I say to myself, “I never have enough time!”. Which, for all intents and purposes, is one more lie to myself and to God, whom I love but not enough to be honest.
Ok, so here’s the rub, we are all given a specified amount of time to exist in this earthly life, and we are challenged to live life to the fullest. I once heard a homily given by a priest friend, who exclaimed, we should be living every day as though it is our last. We should be living every day as if we were given the terminal diagnosis, which interpreted properly gives a time-stamp to our days. A gift as it were, a period for us to realize our own mortality and make best use of time. I am sure many people look on death or the circumstances of sickness and then subsequent death as an awful transaction of a godless world, but I don’t see it this way at all. We are all creations of God, and in the process of living an earthly life we must live it fully, loving all we are in contact with, and at the same time finding our own path (lighted by God) to fall in love with the One True God. Since all our pathways are separate but uniquely convergent as well, we find intersections of pain and loss along the way. No one enjoys pain, hence the word, but to the extent we experience life, isn’t most of our life attenuated by the reduction of pain? Think back on a time where we did experience a real pain, perhaps a loss of a loved one, or the failure of a much-anticipated goal. Didn’t we learn from our experience, don’t we carry that pain in some small measure with us? If it is true pain, doesn’t it linger with us, when our presence of mind is consulted about what we should do next? The entire misconception is, we are the doctors to affect the healing of our own pain. We aren’t, how many doctors have you ever met, perform open heart surgery on themselves, it just doesn’t happen, but without the much-needed surgery, they will die. The surgeon must rely on another to help in the process of dealing with the pain, and then in the process of moving past the pain. An open-heart surgery patient, if coaxed to do so, will indicate what they’ve dealt with in overcoming their pain as it relates to the physical and mental of the surgery. Isn’t this like those of us who’ve dealt with some form of pain in their lives? A properly healed wound isn’t something someone is afraid of confronting, but a wound still in need of proper healing will continue to fester and with writhe with pain. When asking myself the question of time, and realizing I was avoiding the answer all along, the recognition of my avoidance, and the flood of a realization of the emotional and spiritual pain which has crippled me the whole time was an experience everyone should realize.
My pain exhibited its traits in my poor attitude towards people and life, in my avoidance of people and events, but most importantly it affected my decisions towards those I love and those I was always meant to love. This avoidance, or sin as we all know it by, is one of the most powerful weapons the devil has as an influence over us, the confrontation of pain is something our culture would much rather do without. Look at the world around us, we can’t speak truth for fear of the environment it will cause, or the offense it may give to another because of what we think or say. Our feelings are the emotive equivalent to the Washington Monument, apparently, and defacing our emotions at the expense of reality has become verboten among large groups of people today. This is never truer when we confront the truth of God, and for doubters out there, truth doesn’t care if you believe, it just is. Now, just imagine being a skeptic all your life and then suddenly realize everything you think didn’t exist does, and not only that, you have a lot to make up. You think to yourself, I just might not have time to make up for all the lost time. Never fear, you have time, if the God of all can raise a life from the dead, then you can repent and believe.
Where does this leave us then? Where do we go with our time? Should we just hang it all up and enter the cloister with the Franciscans? Well, if you feel this is the life you should lead, and with proper guidance from a spiritual director, then I pray for your journey! If you are like me, and have a wife and kids, then this is the real question. How do we have a life focused on God, but not oppressive to the people we love the most? The answer is once again, simple and yet seemingly a matter of personal perspective as it translates to what is best for each one of us. Some of us are challenged to enter the cloister, perhaps some are challenged to see a perspective of life dealing with personal physical sacrifice, there are those of us who must accept loss as their path, and even those who deal with their own pain as it translates to their loved ones. Whatever the path might be, the time focused on God’s Graces, as they pertain to each and everyone of us, is a matter of significance. Like any loving relationship, God allows us the free will to choose what we will do. To make a determined decision to either fall in love with Him or walk away. What we will all inevitably see is, our choice to walk away ends in a determination, we never had enough time. We never did enough, we never made enough, we never experienced enough, but in the end, with God as out focus we will be completely full. No regrets, at least not in the manner of seeking God, except to lament not doing more to grow the unconditional love we seek.
Perhaps there are events in your life, I know there are in mine, where I regret the decisions I made, no matter the significance or the inscrutable circumstances which surround my regrets, they are mine and mine alone. Even to have someone I truly love and care for tell me to move forward doesn’t always wash away my guilt or recognition of the delta which exists between what was right and what was wrong.
As time continues to march on in my life, and my hair gets more and more grey with each passing year, I find my memory serves me well, I forget those things which cause great pain, and I seem to remember those which brought me the most joy. I fully believe this is a Grace poured upon me by God, because the devil wants nothing more than for us to relieve the hurt we cause or the pain we felt, this is ideal way for him to keep his liar’s clutch on us.
Suppose there are things about you or someone you love which are almost too much to bear or at least you think they are. Consider this, stop wasting time, confess your sins, reconcile their impact in you life and the lives of other, and rectify your decision. Your decision to waste time, your decision to push yourself further from the loving gaze of God. Realize, you have time for what you make time for, and in the process of learning what is most important, realize those who want to fill your life and embrace them.
When I was in school, I was not a part of the “in-crowd” I performed on stage and spent a great deal of time reading and philosophizing with my father and friends. Over the years, I’ve had significant run-ins with people who seemed to look down upon me in school, but for reasons unknown matured and treated me as a person worthy of their attention. I have subsequently done the same, and it occurred to me an analogy which in a manner of perspective sums up our lives and how we treat people or how we are treated. Imagine yourself on a team of any kind. This team has captains who receive all forms of adulation from everyone, some deserving and some not so deserving. Then there is you and me, we serve the captain, we get the captain what they need whenever they ask for it. In our eyes, we perform a valuable service, but in the eyes of the captain, he doesn’t even know our names, or possibly a nickname is given. When the captain achieves a monumental victory everyone on the team is thanked but us, we are left to continue our seemingly subservient duties until we can move on to something more befitting our own aspirations or desires. What did we learn from the experience? We have two ways of looking at it, much like anyone might perceive. The first way would be the most typical, we are stepped on because the captain imbues a level of sub-distinction on us, even if the work we did was exceptional. The captain always thinks of their self as superior, even if they don’t come right out and say it, their actions speak louder than any utterance to move past their lips. The second perspective can also look at the same situation and realize this, God is our focus, and much like Jesus washing the feet of Peter (John 13:5-9). We are to make ourselves as servants to all, and in our humility, we glorify the one true God. In our attempts to serve the captain we seek God’s love, in our search for God’s love we face the ridicule of the captain, but it doesn’t truly matter. It doesn’t dampen our spirits, it just shows us we have much work to be done, if we choose to seek the light of Christ. Christ, hanging from the cross, served all humankind by a humiliation never realized. The Divine Christ allowed himself to be tortured, spat on, beaten, and crucified as a matter and an example to every one of us. His efforts in their actions spoke to us saying, I love you, and I will die for you. I will humiliate myself for you, give me your time and energies as I have given them to you. Love me, because I love you so much.
Ok, so where does your time focus at? What will you do with the extra five minutes you have at lunch? Will you help those people at your work, who struggle but need someone with a loving soul to figuratively wash their feet? Remember, we are the subservient, we take the beatings because in our own sin we’ve given them out.
As husbands and fathers, we watch those we love the most treat us with love and disdain. We watch a child, whom we nursed from sickness, stare into our eyes with utter contempt because we told them “no”, and they give not one second of thought to us when making poor decisions. Though when they are in trouble they look to us for answers. Did we not do this to our own parents, from time-to-time? Were we not the “captains” in our perception of the game of life? I know I was, I know I behaved abhorrently when it came to the people who loved me the most.
When we think about time, and we think about what we might have wasted, don’t let the fear of what people may think regarding decisions. Your decision to love God, is a matter between you and God. It doesn’t matter what people think, or say, or do. What matters is the agape you have, the love sense to look towards true light of God, this is what will cleanse you and light your way. Nothing any person can do will sanctify your life, except the sacrifice of Jesus, and worrying what another person my say or do in this life proves to be nothing more than wasted time.
If you feel like you’ve wasted time in your life, welcome to the club. I wasted so much time, at first, I thought I needed to play catch-up. What’s worse is I didn’t know what to do or where to look, I was running around trying to do everything, and this in an of itself cause levels of consternation with my family and I was perceived as being a priggish interlocutor condemning those who weren’t willing to see my perceived goals. As I grew a little wiser in my relationship with God, it was only then did I see the humiliation I cause and faced my own humiliation. I was embarrassed to know people disliked me because of how I treated them. I was the “captain” and I treated those who were most willing to love me with contempt because I thought I was better. I wasn’t, I truly desire to wash the feet of those who surround me, I am contemplative and want everyone I meet to know, I love them with the light of Christ.
When you look at your wife tonight, realize how much she serves you and how much you should be serving her. Realize, with her a grace has been poured upon both of you, and in this grace, you will reflect the light more fully to everyone you meet. Recognize, the time spent teaching your children the ways of Christ will be worth every moment. They won’t always understand, but be solid, be unwavering in your love. God’s love isn’t about rules, it’s about the pursuance of his affection, and in this pursuance, your guidelines to stay on the lighted path will appear to be rules, but really, they are instructions to find your way home.
Don’t waste any more time, don’t give yourself any more excuses. Seek God, ask for a transformation of your soul and the time to bring yourself into his fullness. Spend just a few minutes each day in communion, conversation, confession if you can. He desires this from us. Don’t be the child who pushes the parent away, because they don’t understand why the parent said, “no”. Instead, trust God knows what is best for us, if we would just be willing to accept the truth. I’m sure there are many people in your life who will tell you, you are wasting your time, let them. They need God’s love as much as we all do, so be the reflection of this love, so they will stop wasting their time.
I pray God’s light will enter your life, and illuminate the way for you, your path is your own. Don’t waste any more time searching for sources of light which will neither illuminate your path or direct you down another’s misguided way. Put God in the forefront, cognizant reaches of your mind and keep Him there always. May God bless you and your family, always!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!