Time Not Wasted

“I’m going to bid no matter what this time!” I said before even looking at the hand of cards I had been dealt.

“Why not? We aren’t keeping score!” My partner added as everyone around the table laughed. I’m was happy to be her partner since she was my grandmother, plus she wins all the time. We asked her, “Mama Pat, how are you so good at cards?” and she said, “Well I should be. I spend half my life playing!” And she laughed so hard when she said it that we couldn’t help but laugh, too. 

It was the night before I left Little Rock, and I loved that the way I was spending my last moments was around a round table playing Rook with my grandmother, sister, and her boyfriend. 

I used to not be this way. I used to have a party or a sleepover or something on my last night in Little Rock, and I would try to see as many people as possible before leaving for another year in Africa. I’m thankful for those memories – for friends flying in from out of town just to spend the night, for large gatherings of people I love praying or worshipping late into the evening, for numerous thoughtful goodbyes. 

But I’m also thankful for this new way of doing things – smaller, simpler, lower scale, more intimate. And it’s been consistent with something God is teaching me right now. 

On one rainy day this week, I had nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I stayed in my pajamas all day and worked an entire 1000 piece puzzle with my grandmother. In between putting pieces together, we would watch a show or read our books by the fire or heat up some refrigerated soup. We really didn’t even talk that much, we were just together. 

Deep down in my heart, I loved it. I love working puzzles, I love soup on rainy days, fires in the fireplace, and my red checkered flannel pajama bottoms. Most of all, I love my grandmother. 

But then some sneaky and all-too-familiar thoughts snuck in. You stayed in your pajamas all day? Lazy. The only thing you accomplished today was a puzzle? Pointless. You didn’t even have a friend invite you to anything? Lonely. 

These thoughts weren’t the result of one isolated rainy day, but rather the fact that I’ve had more restful down days during this stateside visit than ever before. And I needed that, wanted that, even prayed for that. But when it was given to me, the enemy snuck in and make me feel guilty and restless. Like my pattern of rest was a waste of precious time. 

The thing is, life had become so fast paced for me that I was becoming addicted to activity and motion. And when you go that far, down time feels awkward. I can so easily get tricked into feeling lonely or isolated when I don’t have a calendar full of coffee dates or dinner dates of small group stuff throughout the week. I can start to feel sorry for myself, like I don’t have a social life anymore, and I unjustly blame Africa for it. 

But when I hugged my grandmother goodbye at the airport this morning and tears welled up in both of our eyes, the deeper regions of my heart opened up and the inner thoughts that told me to hustle and hurry were buried under the warm weight of being with and loving well the people that matter. Things suddenly made sense and I knew that time spent with her was more valuable than ten thousand one hour social activities.

Something I love about African culture is their view of time. Generally speaking, we Americans try to cram as much in as possible because time is short and precious and you never know when you will run out. Time is spent. Americans say there is never enough time. Africans say there is always more time. That’s why they live slower and less efficiently, because they will always put off the matter at hand to do what’s important in that moment. Nothing is necessarily urgent, for there is always more time. The thing is, both are true to an extent. They just drastically change your perspective and the way you walk out your days. 

Here’s to a new year with twenty-four hours in 365 days, a perfect amount of time. Let’s spend less of it bouncing around trying to keep up, and more of it with the people in the moments that matter. Attachment.png

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