I remember a night when my youngest son, then about eleven, came running into the kitchen saying, “Mom, time sure is going by fast!”
While we had a conversation about the concept of time, I thought of the experiences we’d shared through the years and of how quickly the little ones grow. There were still so many things I wanted to teach them – and so many things I wished to accomplish – during this earthly time.
According to the statistical reports, a seventy year old who has lived an “average life” will have spent a lot of time in these ways:
- 13 years gaining an education
- 8 years at the dinner table [this was a while ago. Many dinners are probably spent sitting in front of the TV, or on the go, these days.]
- 5 years traveling
- 4 years in conversation (I dare say I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in this way!)
- 3 years reading
- 24 years sleeping
STUDIES OR THE SPIRIT
I know of no studies showing average leisure time, nor focusing on the “me first” attitudes of those who spend lots of hours in self-absorbed pursuits. Are they happier than those who spend their time reaching out to help other folks? It doesn’t seem that way.
In fact, people involved in service activities – those who are on the lookout for ways to make the day better for another fella – are generally more content and positive in nature. Love grows in beautifully tender ways when we’re looking outward, seeking to make a difference for good’ in another.
There are scientific studies that “prove” this to be the case. Though I don’t think we need them – Our Father in heaven and His Son have taught us this, all along. The Holy Spirit guides us along and grants us the “proof” we need to keep us engaged in using time wisely!
Helen Keller’s words resound with me-
“As selfishness and complaint pervert and cloud the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.“
Isn’t this the truth? With a clearer vision of who we are, and of the importance of our mortal time, we engage more fully in the process of learning to eat, drink, sleep the principles of love. To work at better emulating the Source of Love – our Savior. And enjoying the time spent in helping one another.
His own counsel was that we should love each other, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” [John 13:34]
PERSPECTIVE – THE WHOLE OF IT
We’ve all known people who, at a later age, look back on their lives with gratitude for the things learned and accomplished. Because they’ve invested wisely in the Time Bank, “averaging” more time than many in the pursuits of elements that can be carried out of this life and built upon, the memories are mostly good ones.
Rarely does the list include [if ever] money made, applause enjoyed, spotlights shone on them, credit received, or possessions acquired. In the end of the mortal “time”, it just doesn’t matter.
President Spencer W. Kimball lovingly taught, “Jesus taught us how important it is to use our time wisely. Time cannot be recycled. When a moment has gone, it is really gone. Wise time management is really wise management of ourselves.” [Ensign, Aug. 1978, p.6.]
Since every minute counts – and they seem to go so quickly – how do we choose to spend our allotted time? If we waste only thirteen minutes a day, it adds up to two weeks a year without pay. Multiplying that by a lifetime paints a picture we may not want to see. The whole of it may be missing so many beautiful details we wish we could have colored in.
APPRECIATING THE TIME BANK NOW
Now, my eleven year old who burst into the kitchen is in his twenties, and serving in the US Navy – deployed, and far away from family and home that he loves. The years of learning gospel concepts comes in handy now more than ever, as he leans on the truths that matter most.
I wonder how quickly the time seems to be going by for him. Knowing that he knows the truth of Eternal Principles, I trust that one day, many years hence, he will sit with his own children and talk with them about the concept of “Time” – and of spending it wisely. For, he will know. And that’s a good lesson to understand.
President Harold B. Lee counseled us, “There is only one day that you and I have to live – and that’s today. There is nothing we can do about yesterday except repent, and there may be no tomorrows. The thing for us to do when we arise from our beds as God gives us a new day is to pray that whatever comes to our hands, we will do it to the best of our ability.” [from “Jesus, the Perfect Leader.]
Along with the years of sleeping and eating, I want my life to reflect years of thoughtful service and personal growth. I guess there are usually regrets for not understanding sooner, for allowing others to define or restrict us, for not having gone another extra mile to help. But it’s all part of the mortal journey. Part of learning, refining and polishing. Of better appreciating our beloved Christ for His ultimate love and gift.
The blessing we have is awakening NOW. Appreciating NOW. Doing more NOW. Time is precious. Letting go of regret and going forward with great gratitude for the moments still left in our mortal time bank.