Back in middle school, I went through this phase when my life was really boring. I don’t think I can say that it was boring from an objective standpoint, but I remember often feeling bored. I would go on Xanga and just write, “hi i’m bored.” And then out of my desperation to find things to do, I would proceed to spend hours on RuneScape or AddictingGames.com, and sometimes I would fill out those super long surveys that talk about first crushes and favorite candies and such.
Those days are gone. They seem almost like a dream to me. I don’t even have a paradigm to understand what it means to be bored anymore. I feel like I’m always on the run, there’s always things to do, and I never have enough time. Especially in the past month or so.
Aside from the standard three part-time jobs, volunteering, and wedding planning, there was the winter break traveling in California and Texas, a friend’s wedding in northern Virginia, and the Epic East Coast Conference in New Jersey.
And on top of that, I had this huge incident with my car.
Yes, that’s a block of ice sitting on my floorboard.
I just checked my schedule, and in the next half year or so, I’m scheduled to be traveling to Philadelphia (twice), Louisville, Ithaca, Orange County, San Jose, Costa Rica, New York, and Houston, and all of these trips will take place in different weeks.
Last December, I figured I needed a break, and I locked myself up in a Catholic monastery and read this book called Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. I don’t even remember why I decided to read it, but I am so glad I did.
MacDonald describes two types of people: the driven person and the called person. Driven people tend to dedicate the bulk of their time and energy to the pursuit of accomplishment or expansion, they tend to be highly competitive and prone to outbursts of anger, and they tend to pride themselves in being abnormally busy. That is definitely me. Called people possess an unwavering sense of purpose and strength from within that can withstand the circumstances from without, and their identity is so steadfast that they are able to embrace littleness, hiddenness, and powerlessness.
He continues to talk about different arenas in our lives that need to undergo transformation if we want to move from being a driven person to be a called person. I won’t get into everything, but I will talk about the arena of time, because that’s what struck my core the most. Maybe you can relate. Here are some symptoms of mismanaged time.
1. My desk takes on a cluttered appearance.
2. My car becomes dirty inside and out.
3. I become aware of a diminution in my self-esteem.
4. I forget appointments.
5. I fail to respond to phone messages.
6. I miss deadlines.
7. I tend to invest my energies in unproductive tasks.
8. I feel poorly about my work.
9. I rarely enjoy intimacy with God.
10. The quality of my personal relationships usually is poor.
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
I think about Jesus, who pursued his calling and not his potential. Everybody was asking him to do this, and to do that, and he often chose to say no. When crowds wanted to make Jesus king, he withdrew by himself to the mountains (John 6:15). When there was a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus fell asleep (Matthew 8:23). When Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come heal Lazarus, he chose to delay for two days (John 11:6).
But it wasn’t because he was lazy or cold. It was because he had such a clear understanding of his primary purpose and calling that he wasn’t going to let good things distract him from the best things. And he understand that because his task at hand was so important, he had to take the time to make sure his inner spirit was aligned with the Father’s will.
But how is that done, practically? How do we stay focused on our calling? Well, William Wilberforce, perhaps one of the busiest men who ever lived, once journaled, “This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul if not in body. More solitude and earlier hours! I suspect I have been allotting habitually too little time to religious exercises, as private devotion and religious meditation, Scripture-reading, etc. Hence I am lean and cold and hard. I had better allot two hours or an hour and a half daily. I have been keeping too late hours, and hence have had but a hurried half hour in a morning to myself. Surely the experience of all good men confirms the proposition that without a due measure of private devotions the soul will grow lean.”
I could probably use some more solitude and prayer.