When I was in second grade, one of my teachers gave me a very memorable gift: a book. In fact, although I know I had easy access to books, this book was the first one I remember truly being able to claim as my very own. And it gave birth to a great love of books that has continued to this day.
Growing up, I couldn’t get read enough. I would devour several novels a week, sometimes reading the same book half a dozen times. In a moment of boredom, I’d scour our home or mission library for something new and find myself delighted with a new author or series. Sometimes family friends would loan me books that I would devour, and when asked what I wanted for Christmas or birthday, book lists often came to mind. I even recall times when I was told that I wasn’t allowed to read until a certain project or chore had been completed. If given my choice, I would have stayed continually absorbed in the world of novels.
But then college rolled around. Suddenly, I didn’t have time to read for enjoyment anymore. At least, not very often. Losing myself in a novel went from being the norm to being a rare privilege. Then I got married and began having children, and I felt guilty every time I took the time to read for pleasure simply because there was always so much else to do.
But a few years ago I was introduced to the world of book reviews. I could receive books of all kinds for free in exchange for a review. My love for books was rekindled, and I began to read again. Sometimes for review, and other times just for me, but always to my delight. I began to intentionally carve out time to make sure I was reading. I sought to find the balance between keeping my nose continually buried in a book and not touching books at all for fear of wasting my family’s time. In the middle lies a beautiful place – a place where I can read and still be a diligent steward of my time and energy.
What it all comes down to is time. As a child, I made time for what I enjoyed. As college student and young wife and mom, I felt guilty for spending time on something I enjoyed. But now I am realizing that God created in me a love for reading, and much of what He teaches me comes through the perspective of others, whether from a novel or in non-fiction form.
It makes me stop to ponder what other things I have neglected because I feel that I “don’t have the time.” Sometimes it’s good to neglect certain activities for lack of time. It’s good to really evaluate whether or not I need to be devoting one of my precious weekly hours to this activity or that show. But there are other times when I use the “don’t have the time” excuse far too readily. Sometimes it’s things for myself, like thirty minutes to read or write, or even some days, to grab that shower or power nap! Other times, though, it hurts others. Fifteen minutes to play a game with one or all of my children. Twenty extra minutes to walk my daughter through making bread instead of just whipping up a batch myself. Thirty minutes to chat with a friend or write more than a few passing lines in a note or email. Time to call my parents or grandparents or to run a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies to my dear husband. Maybe even an evening each week to help encourage another young mom or sharpen my heart and mind through Bible study and fellowship with other ladies.
When we stop to think about it, “I don’t have the time” is a more ready excuse on most of our tongues than we’d ever like to admit. If we were to stop and really contemplate how often we say those words, we just might be surprised.
What have you not had the time for this week? This month? This year? What have you put off or simply neglected because you didn’t feel like you had the time? And what are you missing in your life because you haven’t taken the time?
In light of eternity, many things that consume our time day in and day out mean next to nothing. Many other things that we push aside, however, mean everything. Before we open our mouths to say, “I don’t have the time,” may we stop to consider the eternal implications. And may we learn to make the time, whether it be for our own growth or for the edification of others. May we have time.