For as long as I could remember, time had always felt so scarce to me. Like I would never have enough time to do and accomplish all that I wanted to do and accomplish. Especially in this beautiful but exhausting season of mothering my small children. The constant wiping of butts and faces and cleaning messes and someone always needing something. Time felt like a luxury I simply could not afford, and so I had to borrow and steal it again and again. The dreams in my heart would beckon to me, asking me to make time for them. Asking me, ever so politely, “can you squeeze me into your busy schedule? If not today, then when?” Or I would see friends at church, so tired of saying “let’s get together soon!” and it never seeming to actually happen. Tired of the “somedays” in my life. Ready to turn someday into today, but not really knowing how.
A little over a year ago I found myself in one of the busiest seasons of my life. I had just had my second daughter, Cora, and just taking care of her and her older sister, who was still practically a baby too, was a full time job in and of itself. Add to that that I was also leading a moms ministry and running my photography business, and there was barely any time to take a shower, let alone host dinners or write or blog or do anything, really. I constantly found myself wishing I had more time… I would start the day already anxious about everything I wanted/needed to accomplish and fretting over my never ending to-do list. I was barely staying above water, drowning in the demands of the day. It felt all consuming. And they were all good things, things I loved. Truly. But there were just so many things and only one me. And try as I might to pretend otherwise, there were still only 24 hours in any given day.
And sleep. Also, sleep. I so wish I didn’t need to sleep, and could use those precious hours of the night to give to my dreams and my writing and my photography, but alas, I am only human and have a very real, very loud and unable to be ignored, need for sleep. And so the season continued on, and my heart and mind were a frazzled mess. The hole I had dug for myself seemed to only get deeper and deeper.
Time felt fleeting, I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I was so exhausted I could cry, and I often did.
And then one morning, in a moment of quiet desperation, right when I wanted to throw my hands up in surrender, I felt the spirit speak to me — “give to me the first fruits of your time, and you will have plenty.” I realized I had been hoarding my time, clenching onto it with such a tight grip, unwilling to surrender. Afraid that if I let go of the little time I did have, I would lose it all and never have anymore. But I also knew I couldn’t keep going the way I was going, and so I obliged. I needed space to breathe, I needed to learn how to thrive in the midst of the chaos of the season. I wasn’t willing to wait until my kids went off to college to find a moment of reprieve. No, I certainly could not wait that long, and endure the next 18 years in a permanent state of crazed frenzy. I knew my circumstances may not change anytime soon, lest we were able to hire a chef, a nanny, and a maid, but I could change my perspective and care for my heart more.
So that’s what I did. In the mornings, I gave God the first fruits of my day. Similar to our tithe offering, except in this instance I gave Him the first of my time. Each morning I took time to read and pray and journal. Or some days just time to sit and breathe and meditate. To inhale His grace and peace and let it wash over me. To rest before working, and then approach my day filled up, rather than feeling empty before it’s even begun.
And then something amazing happened. Suddenly it seemed as though my days expanded. I found myself able to go about my day and check off my to-do list with ease. No longer frantic and rushing and striving and irritable. I felt peaceful and calm, I felt like I had more than enough time in my day. In starting my day off seeking Him, my days began in an open and humble way, which allowed God to work in and through me. And my perspective shifted: instead of viewing time with a mindset of scarcity, I saw it now with fresh eyes. I saw it now with abundance.
And so I was able to accomplish what I needed to, and was even able to give out of the overflow. I was finally able to live generously with my time. I was able to do the things that blessed myself and others, like hosting dinners and having time to share a meal around the table with new and old friends alike. And so we did it frequently, and my passion for gathering was ignited. I had time to finally turn those “someday” ideas into real life plans. The tight grip I had on my time and my schedule had released, and it seemed the more open-handed I lived, the more time I was able to receive. I love this quote a friend recently shared with me, “Busy is not the problem. We’re all busy. Hurry is the problem.” I was living with hurriedness in my spirit, and once I could release that, I finally felt free.
Before I knew it people were commenting on how peaceful and calm I seemed in this chaotic season, especially with all that I was taking on. “Me? Peaceful?” I scoffed, taken aback. After years of being classified as “type A” and “high-strung” that seemed like an ill-fitting description. But I later realized they were right, I had left those old hurried ways behind, and found a new way of doing things. I certainly wasn’t perfect, old habits occasionally crept back in, but overall, I did feel at peace.
God was so gracious to teach me a new way, a way out of the impoverished mindset I had possessed, out of scarcity and into abundance. A way out of the heaviness I had been carrying and into lightness. It slowly brought me back to life; it was nourishment to my hungry soul. One of my favorite passages of scripture is The Message translation of Matthew 11:29-30, “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” He has shown me that He is faithful to do what he says; He has taught me how to rest, how to work, and how to do it all freely and lightly. What a precious gift.
Time doesn’t have to be scarce, it can be abundant. There can be more than enough: an overflow. If we live with this mindset, and surrender our time to God, beautiful things can happen in us and through us. There is so much peace and freedom in the surrender, in the open-handedness of saying, “God, all that I am and all that I have is yours.”
Thanks so much for reading! I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’re here. I am so grateful for this little corner of the internet that I get to use to share my heart and what God is doing in my life. This post is an excerpt from a larger piece I’m writing. If you enjoyed it, help spread the word by sharing with friends & family on social media <3