Keith and I married very young - while in college. To make ends meet, we ate a lot of tuna casseroles and meatless spaghetti. We saved our pennies (literally!). I remember being excited when our savings account boasted a grand total of $60 ... and then, the tire blew on our car. So we started saving those pennies again. Needless to say, we did not have money to spend on nonessentials but we had time to spend ... time that we spent getting to know each other, time spent enjoying family and friends (much cheaper than dinner out) and time spent learning our careers.
Nine years later brought the arrival of our baby girl. As much as she was a delight, that little "delight" required a lot of attention. Time became a very precious commodity.
It seems as if we had not even figured out how to be parents when our daughter left for college. It came as a total surprise when I no longer found myself in "waiting mode." I didn't realize how much of the past 18 years had been spent waiting. It's obvious when they are toddlers because they are so slow and they stop to ask lots of questions. It's more subtle when they are teenagers. But yes, you wait! You wait in school lines, you wait at after school activities, you wait to eat dinner when homework is finally finished, you wait for them to come home on Saturday nights. Then one day, they leave home and you discover this gift of time again.
Time ... it comes and it goes ... and we always want more!
Last night, in a small group of women as young as early 20's to later 50's (me), we discussed the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Clearly, the message is that we must be wise stewards of what is given to us. But a suggestion was made that before decisions can be made about how to invest the "talents," the "talent"/gift must be accepted. We may have accepted out gift of salvation and we may be investing in God's Kingdom by using our gifts but do we accept the gift of time each day to care for ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally?
It wasn't until the Teacher (thought to be King Solomon) was an older man, that he was prepared to pen the wise words found in Ecclesiastes 3:1. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
There is a time to "fill up"/receive and a time to give.
Regardless of the diversity within my small group of friends, we all wrestled with the concept of taking time for ourselves. Why do we consider it selfish? Perhaps it is because we see so many needs around us. But the truth is that we must receive before we can invest in others and give.
The world may tell us that taking a half hour to quietly read or soak in a bubble bath is a selfish act but what if ... What if that thirty minutes was actually a gift from God to be accepted without guilt so that we could invest it in our well-being? Could the end result be stronger, more committed servants who are more effective in ministry? Could the end result be that more is actually accomplished? Could that investment reap more rewards for God's kingdom?
Ok, on a personal note, I was pondering this thought over a pile of laundry so I just stopped midway, turned off the iron and took the time to journal my thoughts. The ironing can wait until another time. Maybe tomorrow, maybe! But for now, ... I'm rejuvenated, inspired and off to serve at PACN with great joy and expectation.