People > Plans
When I turned 40, I realized that the clock had started ticking backwards on my life. I knew, or at least hoped, I'd have many more years ahead of me, but time suddenly took on new significance as the most precious commodity of all.
This realization prompted me to seriously reconsider how I spent mine. So naturally, I asked God for wisdom on how to spend it well. My prayers changed from "Lord,
please bless my plans," to "God, what do you want to do with the hours of my day?"
When I first started asking, I expected Him to reveal something grand – a BHAG (a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).
But as I continued to ask, God revealed that His values were very different than mine. While I was focused on doing, God was focused on who I was becoming. What he invited me to invest my time in wasn't doing more things, but strengthening my relationships - with Him and with those He wanted me to love.
For example, God often responds to my “what are we doing today?” question by asking me to be still and enjoy His presence. Sometimes, He'll even ask me to go for a walk and talk with Him. Clearly, He knows my weaknesses - I'm a runner, not a walker, and the very thought of sitting still makes me twitch. But I've learned, over time, that His overriding priority is communing with me – not getting me to do anything.
He’s also helped me reprioritize my life by spending more time and energy loving people. In general, I’d say I'm pretty good at making people feel loved, but I’ll admit that I’m careful – scratch that, straight up stingy - about how I spend my time. I'd rather call someone to say "I love you," so that I can simultaneously check off tasks on my to-do list, than drive to their house for a visit. In my mind, a visit (and the time spent driving in San Diego traffic) takes more time than necessary to get the same point across.
But these days, God is teaching me to prioritize people over productivity. Take, for example, my friend’s recent move. I'd rather pay a dozen burly men to move her stuff, than spend a moment doing it myself. But she didn't want to hire movers, and asked for me, specifically. So I gave up a day to help her get settled into her new home, and our friendship grew deeper as we laughed, sweat, and cursed together (at the furniture, not each other). No amount of outsourcing could have drawn us closer.
At other times, God prompts me to pick up the phone and call someone, rather than text or email them. I am not a big phone talker, but some of the people I love most, including my parents (who are in their 80s), prefer hearing my voice over receiving a text. I’ll admit that I’m still productive while I’m on the phone – in fact, my makeup looks best when I’m applying it mid-conversation. But the fact that I’ve graduated from a text to a 5-10 minute conversation has netted huge improvements in the quality of my most treasured relationships.
Now that I’m married, I’ve also learned that just sitting with my husband means more to him than anything I could ever “do” for him. For Josh, being together is what matters most (he ranks high on “quality time” as a love language, whereas “quality time” barely registers for me). The old me would have bristled at the thought of “wasting” time together. The new me is learning to appreciate an evening spent in silence, snuggling in front of a fire.
Old habits die hard, and to say that I still struggle with prioritizing my time is a vast understatement. Changing the way I’m wired isn’t easy - not after forty years of doing things my way. But every time I choose to subordinate my plans to Him, I am reminded that the entirety of our lives are His. All we're giving back is what He's first given us, and there's nothing that blesses us more than sacrificing that which we treasure most. In my case, that's time - and I'm finally learning to use it well.