Lies I Believe, Part 1: No Time July 29, 2010Posted by orualundone in Lies, Lifescripts, Personal, Prayer, Time.
Since writing about Inception, I’ve been thinking more and more about how insidious the lies that we’ve started to believe can become. They can end up controlling your whole life, your whole world, without you even realizing them. I’m working on breaking down the lies and false realities in my own life, and so I’ve decided to write about them one at a time as I come to recognize them. Refuting them in writing will make it easier to remind myself of the truth when I start to fall back into the old habits I’ve based around them. This first one is so simple and seems almost silly at first, and yet it effects every area of my life.
The lie: There’s not enough to time do anything.
I always feel like I’m short on time. This is one of the reasons I’m always early to things – I feel rushed, like I don’t have enough time to get there so I end up being super early and just wasting all that time. If I have to go somewhere and leave in an hour, I feel like I have no time to get anything done before I go since “it’s only an hour”. Of course there are tons of things that can be done in less than an hour. If a friend comes over and stays until 8 pm, I’ll feel like I don’t have time to do anything else before bed even though there are three more hours before I should be asleep. If I have commitments, even very short ones, more than a few weeknights and one weekend night in a week I feel overwhelmed because I think I won’t have time to do anything else that week. Even if it’s just meeting someone for coffee for an hour, I think of that night as completely shot for doing other things except the very basic household maintenance that absolutely has to happen.
I’ve bought into a couple false beliefs here, actually. The first one is there’s not enough time, but the second goes with it – it’s not worth starting if you don’t have time to finish it (or at least make significant progress). Knitting a sweater takes days. Maybe in the ten minutes I have before I have to leave for work, I can do two rows of it. But I won’t because I feel like it’s not worth it, and I can just do it later when I have a bigger chunk of time to work with.
The result: My effectiveness is demolished.
I spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV or messing around on the internet, because I feel like I don’t have time to do anything else – even read (because I don’t want to get it into and have to stop). As a result, so many projects remain unfinished or unstarted. I always feel behind on everything because I put it off from “lack of time”, and thus even more rushed and more reluctant to take on more commitments. I cancel things because I feel I don’t have time to do them. I don’t get involved in activities that have too much of a regular time commitment. I hoard my time and save it…for what?
That’s the thing. I don’t do much with it because I still feel like there’s not enough of it. I feel like there’s not enough time to get involved in ministry or call a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile or even read the Bible. Even though I’ve just spent an hour watching Law and Order, and then will spend 30 mins on the internet reading funny blogs, 20 minutes trying to decide what to do next, and then another hour watching a movie with Indy before we give up and go to bed. This is how I become completely ineffective. I let myself be fooled into thinking that there’s no time for devotions, no time for exercise, no time to make a healthy meal instead of a junky one, no time to maintain my relationships. It keeps me fat and lazy and useless, physically and spiritually.
The truth: I have plenty of time for the important things I want or need to do, but if I put them off they may never happen.
On a day-to-day basis, I have tons of time. I have a job that requires nothing of me after hours, and although I go in very early in the morning, I get home at three and usually don’t go to bed until eleven. I get every other Friday off. I have no kids and split the household chores pretty evenly with my husband. And yet I let myself be drawn into this fantasy that I have no time today, but tomorrow I will have more and will do that devotion, make that phone call, finish that project, join that Bible study.
‘ Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ‘
While today I might have plenty of time, tomorrow that might be gone. Anything can happen. And of course even when I do have a tomorrow, it is the same. I have no time today, I will have more time tomorrow. And so my life is wasted away by the endless tomorrows.
“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handsbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
Satan doesn’t want me to make the most of my time. He doesn’t want me to spend time in prayer and study and get closer to God. He doesn’t want me to be physically fit and healthy. He doesn’t want me cultivate strong, uplifting friendships with believers and non-believers alike, or to have an effective ministry I’m invested in, or simply to be happy and productive. He wants to keep me miserable and lazy and stressed so that I can’t do any of those things. But he wants me to think that I will one day, because if I realize that it’s slipping away, I might get angry enough to do something about it.
“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
How to fight it: Give God the first of my time, then do a reality check.
If no matter what else is going on, how many other things I have to do that day, I can make spending a set amount of time with God the priority, it won’t matter if afterward I feel like I don’t have time to do anything else – because I’ve already done the most important thing. But here’s the catch: I don’t think I will feel like I’m out of time after I spend some with God. I think I’ll feel even more able to do things that are important, and even more able to see what useless things are stealing my time that I can get rid of to focus on the right priorities. And I can ask God to show me how he wants me to use my time, instead of just aimlessly wasting it until the day is over.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
The next step is to check my thinking when I catch myself feeling like don’t have enough time to do something I want to do or should do, or that I will do something important later but right now I just want to hang out. Memorize the verse above and others like it, and use them to ask myself if I’m making the most of every opportunity. Am I prioritizing the right things, not just in words but in the actual way I spend my time?
And finally, a very practical trick to try is when I say want to do something but find myself saying “but I have to leave in an hour” or “BFF is coming over in 30 minutes” to actually do the math to see whether I really do have time for something. “I want to go running but I have to be ready to go to church in 45 minutes”. Okay – 2 miles takes me about 20 minutes, a shower takes me less than 10 and I can be dressed in 5. That’s 35 minutes on the outside, and even if it takes me 5 minutes to get my exercise clothes on and find my ipod, I still won’t be late to leave. Breaking it down like that helps me see how silly it is that I would just do nothing until it’s time to leave because I feel rushed.
Summary: Satan wants me to feel short of time in the present so I continually put things off for the future and never actually get around to anything that would glorify God, or bring freedom, joy, or restoration into my life or the lives of others. To keep from falling into this trap I need to give God the first of my time, and trust that he will make room for anything else that is important. Then I need to respond to feelings of being stressed for time, rushed, or overwhelmed by praying for wisdom as to what to do, evaluating whether I’m making the most of each situation, and analyzing whether those feelings are a reflection of reality or just a trick to prevent me from being whole and effective.