The Trouble with Time

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“I’m sorry—I just don’t have time!”

How often have we heard words like these—and how often do we express this lack ourselves! At least, I know I constantly sense the pressure of varieties of responsibilities and needs that seem to take up all my time, and more besides. Yet, we are all called to generosity with ourselves, in giving of our talents and treasures, and, even especially, of our time. In such a busy, crazy world, why are we expected to give time to others, and how on earth can we make it possible?

Of the three, giving of our treasures and talents are generally fairly simple to practice in our daily lives, and both involve a sacrifice of our time. Yes, there is sacrifice and self-discipline in setting aside donation money, which is, in essence, a gift of the time we spent working. In giving of our talents, we do have to take a morning of baking to help out at the pastry booth at the parish festival, or take a couple of hours to go to the weekly choir practice to prepare for Sunday Mass. Sharing our talents, too, takes time. In fact, in sacrificing a portion of our treasure and sharing of our talents with others, one of the greatest questions we must answer is: am I willing to take the time to do this?

And so we come to the first issue: why should we give of our time?

On the one hand, our time is clearly invaluable—we are constantly stressing our lack of and need for time. Jesus recognized this anxiety in us when He said: “And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life?”[1] Yet, on the other hand, simply spending time with or for others can also appear to have little or no value, such as instances we’ve waited in the car for someone forty-five minutes longer than we had planned, or watched over a sick child or sibling while he slept. If we have other commitments or responsibilities, such occasions feel like a total “drain” on our time that we simply cannot afford!

But if we sacrifice our time for others, do not such “pointless” times become acts of love? For “Love is patient.”[2] In point of fact, St. Paul tells us this attribute of Love first, though Love has many, for we cannot truly love others if we are never willing to spend time with them. Even just being with others has value, for it is in the midst of daily life that God graces others, and us, if only we take the time to see and participate in His Love.

All of our human existence takes place in the realm of Time, making hope a reality for goodness and virtue since we are not defined eternally by who we are today—as long as we live, there is chance for change through the gift of time. As the vinedresser said to the owner of the vineyard in the Parable of the Fig Tree, when the owner wished to cut down the tree since it bore no fruit for three years: “Let it alone, sir, this year also…and if it bears fruit next year, well and good.”[3] For God saw that there is much good we can achieve, if only we have the patience to wait, within time.

Yet, in the midst of our hurry in the world today, how is this applicable? How can we literally give away our time, when we seem to not even have a second to spare?

Quite often, God asks us for the gift of our time in small and simple ways, such as stopping to answer a child’s question, or holding a door open for a stranger. Just being available to others, with openness and charity, is key to the gift of our time. The Son of God did not just redeem mankind—He spent time here, among men. Christ willingly chose to spend thirty-three years in the world with us, as proof of the Greatness of His Love. For it is truly in the simplicity of the gift of time, given freely, that proves the greatest Love.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, (Luke 12:25), National Council of the Churches of Christ, 1971, accessed 10 April, 2016, https://biblegateway.com.

[2] (1 Corinthians 13:4 RSV)

[3] (Luke 13:8-9 RSV)

Marissa Standage

Marissa Standage

Marissa Standage is simultaneously studying at Holy Apostles College and Seminary and Angelicum Academy to earn her bachelor's degree in philosophy and theology, and also loves her teaching post at Highlands Latin School of Pasadena. As the oldest of six, Marissa was home schooled right through high school, and has enjoyed a deep love for the Catholic faith, family, and education based on Socratic discussion. Between her college work and teaching, her favorite past-times include spending time with her family and friends, writing epic fantasy stories, reading, baking sourdough bread (and all kinds of other sourdough goodies from chocolate cake to crackers), and knitting socks. In the midst of this full and wonderful life, she is striving to discern God's plan for her in this world, and to cultivate the virtues in the daily opportunities to grow in His love.

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