Burdens or Gifts?

“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

I thought I’d defied this maxim, especially where time was concerned. I budgeted my entire day into simple categories to keep myself as productive as possible, but really I was living like my life as a means to an end, rather than what it really is. A gift.

I used to have a chronic scheduling problem. It wasn’t necessarily bad in it of itself, but I’m not sure it was the healthiest way to live my life. Allow me to show you:

This list reads from bottom to top. I used a handy dandy app to time every single activity. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I timed when I brushed my teeth, how long I spent with friends and family (that would be underneath the Relationship category), how long I ate… everything. And at the end of the day, I got a pretty little pie chart:

So what’s the problem? Well, it’d gotten a bit obsessive. I required every spare minute–nay!–every spare second to be productive (And I only used social media strictly to promote my blog, so yes, that’s productive too). While that might sound absolutely wonderful to some, I realized that certain things can’t really be measured, and I’m not sure if they ever should be. We not only don’t need to control everything, but we shouldn’t control everything. I still have a student planner I use, but I’m not timing my waking hours anymore. I’ve decided that having a little wiggle room in my life spices it up with spontaneity and leaves room for God to interfere with my schedule, which is a good thing! Though it’s taken me a long time (about the entire 17 years I’ve been alive…) to figure that out.

God spoke to me about this during this past ACFW conference, during Allen Arnold’s continuing education, and the point was hammered in by Allen’s book The Story of With. If your life is beginning to feel like an endless to-do list, I’d highly recommend it. All that to say is: God’s ultimate goal isn’t your productivity. Yes, productivity is important, but one day all the work we’ve done and books we’ve written will crumble into ashes. Why wear ourselves out on building something temporary? Especially when we can focus on eternal things while actually enjoying our lives, like building character and relationships–as my dad so often likes to remind me.

I’m not encouraging you to quit working. God’s given each of us a purpose and a job for this life. The blessing to create masterpieces, whether it’s a book, a painting, or a building, is a gift unique to mankind. But gifts aren’t supposed to be rushed through. When you open a box of chocolates from a spouse or friend, you don’t stuff them in your mouth and choke them down. You savor each one. With that, I hope everyone will be reminded not to treat their lives like a means to an end or their talents like burdens, as I’ve often done, but to treat both of them like what they really are: gifts.

If you could change anything in your schedule, what would it be? Do you over-schedule or under-schedule? Have you ever treated a gift like a burden?

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