The Art of Spending Time

“I wanna help.”

My neck stiffens. I’m barely awake and struggling to function. The words, “No, just let me do it,” come out of my mouth.

My 3-year-old is insistent, “No, I wanna help.” I take a deep breath and say, “Okay.”

A task master by nature, I struggle when things get in my way or slow me down. While this might be good for getting things done, it’s not always good for the people in my life. Unfortunately, this kind of “git ‘r done” attitude has caused me to miss many opportunities for quality time with the people who are most important to me-my spouse and kids.

There are times when I grunt in frustration when my spouse stops me for an embrace while I’m at work in the kitchen. I’m also guilty of repeating the phrase, “Ok, I’ll be there in just a minute,” five or six times to my kids who are waiting anxiously for me to play. I even ignore the dog barking at the back door sometimes, hoping that someone else will get annoyed and open the door while I peck away at my computer.

Overtime, I’ve learned to release my grip on life and give way to slowing down and surrendering to life’s little moments. I try to focus more on who I’m “being” in the moment, rather than on what I’m  “doing”. What I do doesn’t mean much if I’m being an ogre in the process. God says it best in this verse, …if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. {1 Corinthians 13:2}

In other words, who cares what you do or what you gain, if you don’t have love. That to-do list you’re determined to complete, that ladder you’re dying to climb, that body you’re working so hard to have–what does it matter if it’s causing you to be unloving and disconnected towards the people in your life?

Slowly I’m learning not to push away opportunities to connect with my spouse. I kindly welcome loving embraces from my husband mid-cleaning. I surrender to invitations to spontaneously dance in the kitchen mid-cooking, instead of jumping back and hissing like a cat. I have even given in to him dipping me consecutively 5 times. Then, laughed when he exclaimed, “See Honey? We can dance with the stars.”

I’m learning to recognize teachable moments with my kids. I patiently welcome my 3-year-old to help me make breakfast. I gladly accept an invitation from my 8-year-old to play an invented game of Legos. And I  gladly {ahem}  let my 18-month-old help unload the dishwasher.

The result of surrendering to life’s little moments may take longer and result in less than perfect days, but beneath the surface things are better. My spouse feels wanted and loved. My children feel accepted and affirmed.

I imagine our heavenly Father looking down on us feels much the same. He can do all things. He is the Creator. He is sovereign. He doesn’t need our help, but He wants our help. Like a parent, He wants to spend time with us. Unlike us, He is perfect. He doesn’t ever force us or try to control us. Instead He invites us. He invites us to join Him in His work because He desires that relationship with us. He is at work all around us. We just need to slow down and open our eyes, so we can recognize the opportunities He has placed before us. We need to be willing to be interrupted, so that we may surrender and enjoy life’s little moments.

 


Reflect

Do you intentionally keep people in your life at a distance for the sake of efficiency or gain? Could selfishness be causing you to disconnect from your loved ones?

Where do you fall in terms of ‘doing’ versus ‘being’? Do you need to focus on being more present to the people God has placed in your life?

Thank God for never being forceful or controlling, but for loving you and wanting to spend time with you. Ask Him to open your eyes to His invitation in your life and don’t be afraid to accept it.


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