A lot of people have been asking me recently if I am ready to leave for Basic Training and all of the other active duty time that will follow. Almost consistently, my response has been, “I’m ready to go so it can be over and I can come back.” I realized today just how wrong that is.
I’ve been reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. In it, she discusses the challenge of living life fully right where we are. One of the biggest challenges I’ve taken on in response to this book is creating a list of 1,000 things for which I am thankful. I am trying to teach myself to be fluent in the language of gratitude – giving thanks always. Today, I read a section of her book that felt like a giant slap across the head, and I realized how often I fail to be thankful for time. Time is one of the few things over which we have absolutely no control. It continues to move on no matter what we do. We cannot buy more of it, or trade other things to receive extra time. We do not get to say when our time on earth begins or ends. We only have 24 hours in each day and when they are gone, they are gone. We cannot redo any of the time that has passed, or jump forward to preview the time that is to come. All we can do is choose how we use each second we are given. Even now, the clock continues to tick as I write this. I am choosing to use time right now for this instead of something else. However, we tend to live as if we are in a race against time. Our lives are incredibly busy. Our society praises packed schedules and punctuality. We find ourselves rushing through every single day. But to what end? What is the price we pay for our hurried lives? I’ve come to realize that it is a high one…
In the book, Ann quotes Mark Buchanan saying, “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me… I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” The truth of the matter is that we do not gain any great thing by rushing from one thing to the next. Instead, we miss so much. Thousands of opportunities left untaken. Millions of words spoken hastily, leaving regrets. Hundreds of broken people, broken moments, left in our wake. Infinite tiny blessings left unnoticed because we were too busy to see them, to name them for what they are.
This is what was wrong with my response to all those questions. I have been so ready to leave so I can come back that I have not been fully present in the now. If I had continued in this mindset of rushing to what’s next, who knows how many things I would have missed over the next year?
Let me say it yet another way. I hear so many people say that the years just go by faster as you get older. So we continue rushing through time that already flies by because…? We want to be first in the race ending at our grave? Of course, this life will end no matter what. But are we making the most of it while it’s here? I’m not saying we have to do fewer things. (In some cases, that may be needed.) I am saying that we need to slow ourselves down in the things we are doing. Let’s stop allowing our minds to focus on the second event when our bodies are present in the first. Let’s stop driving like lunatics trying to get through traffic faster than everyone else and take the time to notice the beauty outside our windshield. Let’s stop sitting with our families in the evenings thinking about tomorrow and start enjoying the time with them today. Dare to be two minutes late to that next thing because you literally stopped to smell the roses or to honestly care about hearing the response when you ask the person you pass, “How are you?” Let’s change our society by being thankful for the time we have right now.
And I promise to take in every single moment of precious, present time from now until I leave, and from the moment I leave until I return, and from the moment I return until my time runs out. I don’t want to miss any more. I don’t want to break anything or anyone else with my rushing. I don’t want to reach the end and regret what could have been… or have anyone standing around thinking, “But she wasn’t really here when it mattered, anyway.”
Hi, I'm Katie... just a girl, living this adventure for the glory of God. Thanks for reading!