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There are lots of adages about ‘time.’ “Time flies!” “Time flies when you’re having fun!” “Time is a bank account from which choose how we spend our minutes.” “What do you do with your twenty four hours of time each day?” And on and on.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared that “Love is actually spelled T-I-M-E.”
So when thinking over this time boundary-set mortal existence, we have choice in how we utilize our hours. Bottom line seems to be this: The more we understand and love our Savior and His teachings, the more time we will use in pursuit of Christ-like things. Loving things. Righteous pursuits.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
As we watch the years pass, it becomes clear where our heart lies. It is shown in the way we spend our time, our money, and our influence. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that interfere with time we would love to spend with family members and/or friends; conditions that prevent us from doing all the good we would like to do; or issues that we can’t resolve in order to have our lives in the kind of order that would grant us the amount of ‘family time’ or ‘neighbor service time’ we’d like – through no fault of our own. It may prevent us from going about and doing nice little things for others that would bring us satisfaction and bring others joy.
But here’s the thing: Our Father knows our heart. He knows our circumstances, and He knows of our desires. So there need never be concern or self-absorbed sadness over what we ‘want’ or ‘would like’. With faith in Him, while we fill our hours with whatever we’re able to do, it is acceptable before the Lord.
According to statistical reports that – I admit – are a bit dated now, a seventy year old who has lived an ‘average life’ will have spent a good share of time in these ways:
* 13 years gaining an education
* 8 years at the dinner table (or standing in the kitchen eating, which is pretty common in a lot of households)
* 5 years in traveling
* 4 years in conversation
* 3 years reading
* 24 years sleeping
Were we to add “leisure time”, “Me time”, or “Personal Improvement time” (in worldly ways), we would see a lot of hours gobbled up in these pursuits. Leisure time is good. Personal improvement is good. The pertinent question is: Is it good, better, or best? Elder Dallin H. Oaks asked this piercing question a few years ago, and taught important principles about how our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is developed as we learn to choose “best” over ‘good” or even “better.”
That free agency we’re given places a responsibility on our shoulders to BEST choose what we will do with the time allotted us. Our Savior, whom we love and follow, taught this through His own choices.
It isn’t my place or calling to decide what is best for anyone other than myself or- to determine as a couple- what my husband and I do with our time. This article is simple written to help us THINK about the gift of mortal time and how we experience it. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. People are taken unexpectedly. Physical or mental/emotional impact (our own or someone close to us) may change our life in ways we cannot imagine.
Our individual questioning, in the most real of terms is this: Where does my treasure lie? What is in my heart? What matters most? How do I show my love for my Father in Heaven and His Only Begotten Son? In what ways do I use my gifted time to make a difference for good in the lives of others?
We can use excuses – or not
I have known some people who, at a later age, could look back on their lives and smile at the things learned and accomplished. Those people have invested wisely in the time bank, “averaging” more time than many in the pursuit of such things as gaining and sharing their testimony, helping out at home and in the community, offering a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, making great memories with family and friends. The list never includes the money they made, applause they enjoyed, or possessions acquired.
I have an eternal friend named Debbie Aguila. I ‘met’ her through email, after she had read an article of mine. We became fast friends. When Facebook became a “thing”, we connected, and continued our friendship. I can’t even express how much I came to love and appreciate this kind, compassionate, beautiful woman who always had a sweet word to share; who added to my own thoughts of spiritual things with her keen observations; who helped me add to my quote book (something I have kept since I was thirteen, full of quotes that affect me in positive, helpful ways) time and time again.
Often, she would send a scripture and want to discuss it. Perfect quotations were included in many correspondences. She always cheered me on – especially when she learned of some difficult health challenges that were growing in me.
It wasn’t until shortly before she passed away that I learned that this stellar, strong, ever-giving and cheerful woman had spent most of her life in a bed, unable to speak, unable to have any kind of ‘life’ that most of us would consider ‘fair’ or acceptable. She had a tube in her mouth, and her frail little body was confined for years. But her spirit! Her amazing Real Person –residing in that little frail body – was magnificently strong and rock-solid faithful. No excuses for her!
She spent her time writing letters to many people, I learned. Always to up-lift and encourage. To engage in thoughtful exchange that would help us both better understand the things that matter most.
Debbie is now free of pain and no longer confined to that hospital bed. I smile when I think of her, and appreciate all she taught me. Because of her example, I better learned the art of using time in a better way. I don’t yet ‘go there’ to say I use my time in the “best” ways possible. But I keep trying, because of Debbie.
These are not little things, my friends: To make a caring phone call, to drop a line, to send a note or card, to use some hard-earned money to help someone who is in greater need, to put off some ‘thing’ we ‘want’ in order to purchase a ‘need’ for another.
Time Flies on Wings of Lightning…
President Spencer W. Kimball counseled that, “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, August 1978, p.6)
If every minute counts and it seems to go by so quickly, we may feel more at peace if we “spend” that allotted time we are given in smart ways. By wasting only thirteen minutes per day, that adds up to two weeks a year without pay. Multiply that by a lifetime and it becomes clear that the wisest use of our time investment could save us some regrets. This is not to create OCD about every second we use. Days, experiences, mood, work or family load all vary. But it’s good to have this thought in the back of our mind so that we plan in the best way!
One of our hymns includes the lyrics “time flies on wings of lightning, we cannot call it back”. The investment of our time in the best causes will lift us high above the “average” in terms of how we spend our earthly hours. Each of our days will be sweeter ones, despite limitations and hardship. The collective days will equal a well-lived life.
President Harold B. Lee counseled us that, ” 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.”
Personal growth and gratitude increase as we are motivated to live each day to the best of our ability. There is beauty in making our time count. I cannot express how shocked I was to learn that my friend Debbie, with all her positivity, faith-filled messages, and ongoing goodness was so ‘disabled’ according to our world.
I have no doubt that my association with her helped me clearly see and know that none of us is disabled if we see clearly. And the person writing this article is one who can no longer ‘see clearly’ with temporal eyes. I’m referring to that higher, sweeter, clear vision of the Spirit. It will not allow limitations temporally get in the way of experiencing the ‘BEST’ of mortal minutes!
Time is Precious
Time is precious. We are precious. Life grants us experience and minutes/ hours/ days to learn and become better. To once more quote President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Sandwiched in between their Once Upon a Time and their Happily Ever After they all had to experience great adversity.”
“Time is a gift, a treasure, not to be put aside for the future, but to be used wisely in the present.” So teaches President Thomas S. Monson, who has spent his years – despite illness, loss, stress, and all of the things that are common to us in mortality – selflessly giving to others. It is clear that his heart lies close to the Savior; that he knows that blessing someone else – in even the tiniest of ways- is a blessing to be added upon us at the appropriate time.
But is this why we serve? Why we spend time on our knees in prayer for those we know and those we don’t know very well at all, pleading for the help they need to be received? Why we spend our time in thinking of and doing for others? In educating ourselves out of history and science and math books as well as the ‘best books’ of spiritual literacy?
No – it is not for reward. We come to find that the learning and helping BECOMES the reward. The trial offers rewards of insight and graciousness that we would otherwise not receive nor understand.
If you have recently lost a loved one, or are presently in the throes of difficult illness in which a loved one has only a short time to live, time has become the most precious commodity. If you quietly know your earth- time is short, there may be a desperation in wanting to see everyone you love, to let them know how dear they are to you, or to say your “’til we meet again” words.
If you’re in the darkness of abuse or other heart-rending situations, time can seem the enemy. If all seems hopeless at present, you may not even want to think of time. You may not want to think at all. You may feel abandoned.
But, my sweet and dear brothers and sisters (and, being the children of God, are we not all brothers and sisters?), even if it doesn’t seem so, the Lord is watchful. “His eye is no the sparrow”… He is aware of us and seeks to strengthen us even in the most bitter of times. After all, He descended below us all (D&C 122) and knows how to succor us. Allow time to be a repository from which you may gain whatever is best needed in order to come closer to Christ. Time is a gift given us, yet none of us knows when that time will run out. Meanwhile, accept it as a gift! Use it as the gift it is! Be good, be happy, be faithful, be engaged in good works, be confident in overcoming bad habits, be trusting in our God. That way, time will work in our favor, and we will be blessed in large and little ways.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergrad studies were in musical theater, and her Masters degree is in communications. She has taught for CES programs for 30 years. She began by speaking for the National Press Bureau speakers association. A Billboard award winning songwriter, her favorite use of music is as a tool to teach. In addition to three solo albums in the Christian market, she co-wrote Women at the Well with Kenneth Cope and My Beloved Christ with Randy Kartchner. Her Facebook page Goodness Matters and her website www.goodnessmatters.com is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ.
She & her husband have 8 children & 9 grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, brownies, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.