I’m not sure when I first heard it. It could have been when I was a child, or as a teenager, or even as an adult. The timing of when I heard the words does not make a difference, but the phrase and its meaning does. Somewhere along the timeline of my life, I began to hear the words, “Use your time wisely.” It honestly sounds like something my dad would have said. Those four words made their appearance again recently as I reflected on these last six months of coronavirus living.
As the days stretched into nights and then again into more days and nights, I found myself either completely motivated or disinterested in what the new day might bring. It was if I had energy available when I desired it most and looked forward to the new normal. I also found the opposite was true when the thought of the same old routine was my only focus.
How have your days looked the last six months? Are you using your time wisely?
The First Month
“I’ve got this” was my first thought when the governor of my state signed the first “stay-at-home” order back in March. I embraced the challenge head-on and believed that the shut down would only last a few weeks. Two weeks into the isolation was about all I could handle.
Motivation pulled me forward in the beginning and I accomplished a lot as each day ran into the next. Just as quickly as my motivation took hold it seemed to dissipate as I found myself wandering around the house, somewhat in a daze. The idea of using my time wisely became foreign to me and I slid into survival mode.
I learned quickly that as much as I like my “alone” time I thrive best when I see my family frequently. Alone took on a whole new meaning when the closest I got to my family was via FaceTime.
The other lesson during the first month of the shelter in place revolved around the idea of “If I only had more time.” For years, that was my heart’s desire. Now that I had the time I learned I didn’t like the conditions that came with it.
Months Two, Three, and Four
There is something about the middle that allows me to press pause in my thinking and try to understand the “why” that comes with the in-between place. It doesn’t usually happen in the actual middle space, but later as I wonder how I made it through to the other side.
Months two and three were flat out hard as I whined and pressed hard against the “new normal.” In fact, I wrote about it HERE but in my act of defiance, I called it the “new different.” Normal is a misnomer that precedes our belief that somehow we will return to our status quo lives.
When I finally got over myself, I learned that wasting time was never part of God’s plan. It was during this middle period that I finished writing my Advent book and put all of the finishing details into place. I found joy in writing, but more importantly, I rediscovered that God is faithful.
Months Five and Six
These last two months have been my favorites. In a world that continues to spin out of control, it feels good to find some rhythms that are more familiar than not. I wrote about August HERE and together we shared some musings. Now that we are reaching the halfway point in September, I am claiming more hope and contentment than in any other month this year.
I have set up some routines that feel right and keep me focused throughout the day. I am learning that when God gave me the word “steward” as my one word for 2020, He wanted me to focus on the stewardship of time even more so than financial stewardship.
Hear me when I say that life is very different now. We are forging a new path and a new way of living. The normal we knew is not going to exist in the same form as we move forward. But contentment is possible and hope never leaves when you trust that God is in control.
The normal we knew is not going to exist in the same form as we move forward. #newpost #TellHisStory #linkup Click To Tweet
The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23
Answering the question, “Are you using your time wisely?” is an individual response based on your circumstances and God’s leading in your life. As I outlined this post and reflected on the last six months, I learned that we are unique and how we face challenges is our story to tell. Here are my biggest takeaways:
I was never alone even though I physically craved in-person connection.
I love beginning my days slowly. Coffee and God time is the best way to go especially when it is not hurried.
Pushing against the circumstances that life presents you with eventually leads you to push away from God. It is not easier and in the long run you will find yourself farther away from where you want to be.
The world is loud, but I continue to seek quiet. That looks like not listening to the news and scrolling through social media (especially Facebook) sparingly.
Hope is a person and His name is Jesus. Contentment follows on the heels of hope when you recognize that God has never left your side.
Here’s to finishing 2020 with hope and contentment. May you seek God’s peace daily and know that He never stops working with you and for you.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
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Oh my goodness, Mary … how is it even possible we are halfway through September?! And yet, here we are. I loved reading your reflections about how you have progressed through the last many months. Isn’t it interesting how in just a few months’ time you can look back and see your need, as you put it, to “get over yourself” regarding how you felt about the “new different”? (I am familiar with this process of looking back and needing to get over myself, by the way.) What a blessing that you are now in a sweet place of contentment and focus.
The fact that we are halfway through September is not lost on me. All of a sudden life seems to be flying by. I am very aware that I love to control and the last six months have been a daily lesson in no control. Thank goodness for God who is in charge. I’m glad I am not alone in this journey.
These are such great thoughts. “Now that I had the time I learned I didn’t like the conditions that came with it.:” It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. It’s funny how extra time to get stuff done is not as nice or helpful as I thought it would be. Community and connection are so important!
Thanks for hosting and for the honest thoughts.
Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Jed. This season of uncertainty has come with so many lessons for me. It sounds like you are learning too.
Time has seemed to all run together lately. I can’t believe how much of it has passed and somehow it is crawling as well. Trying to honor God with it – and stop complaining about it so much!
There is a definite connection between the days dragging and the days flying by. It makes sense since nothing is normal anymore. It is easy to complain about the things we cannot control but God doesn’t want us to waste our time on that.
Like you, Mary, my months have looked different. At first it was going to be temporary and so no regular routine was established. And then after time, a routine was needed. I kept thinking I will go back to my routine when my husband returns to working at the office. But when I learned that this wasn’t going to be until after the end of this year, I had to set some boundaries for myself and establish a new and different routine. It seems I am learning how much I miss people and interactions with others and how much we need a routine.
Routine and connection with people are key in making it through this middle space we are all walking through. I am glad you have found a way to cope as we move forward. Thank you for sharing.
We have had the craziest “quarantine” – My quarantine actually began mid-January with major spinal fusion surgery. I’d planned well for that with knitting projects, books to read, and new website being built. I couldn’t cook, clean, lift anything above a gallon of milk for 6 weeks. As a matter of fact, at my aunt’s funeral after Thanksgiving, I was so exhausted – I needed time to refresh, to rest, to mend. Then, within two weeks of being released, our community suffered a devastating tornado – and life slowed down but sped up in outreach ways – then the Quarantine came – but our quarantine had me watching my grandson, my pregnant DIL working from our home in an office space because they didn’t want their employees on site, two of my sons who live at home and go to school were now doing all school at home – and my husband works from home. We had our own sweet, little community living going on – and it was its own form of blessing. It allowed me longer to heal and build strength, to savor my family without outside distractions – and I still had knitting projects and books to read. Yes – ours was a very different kind of Quarantine – but God blessed it!
Your extended quarantine has been so challenging and yet filled with blessings. Isn’t that just like God? I appreciated how you shared parts of your story along the way. It’s refreshing to see and read how you made it through. Thank you for sharing.
This post is very reflective Mary, one we can all relate too, though I echo your following statement,
“…I learned that we are unique and how we face challenges is our story to tell.”
On another issue, I’m having all types of troubles trying to link into linkz with their new log on, I’ve tried everything they’ve suggested even opening a Facebook account to try that way to no avail. Not sure if it’s because I’m linking from Australia…
So am connecting with you all this way 😀
Thank you for your persistence in trying to link up. I am sorry you are having so much trouble. I appreciate your wisdom and kind words each week. You are a beautiful part of this community.
I’m glad you found ways to be productive and that you were able to reach that place of contentment. I relate to your statement about liking time alone but realising how much you needed those interactions with others. I think it showed me I value social contact much more than I realised even though I’m an introvert.
And I agree about limiting news and social media – that makes a big difference!
I believe you all were shut down even longer than I was. I’m an introvert too, but being away from my people about did me in. I pray we all continue to move forward knowing that God is in control.
Thank you for these honest reflections, Mary. These times of anxiety and uncertainty are tough. That God is in control gives me hope, too. I love this – “Hope is a person and His name is Jesus.” We couldn’t get through this without Him, could we? Love and blessings to you!
I hope that when I write other people will connect. I know when I am more vulnerable I provide a space for others to do the same. Thank you for being here. You are so dear.
Mary, I am sure you understand how this readjustment of normal is landing in an elementary music classroom. Explaining to kids, “No I am sorry we can’t sing in the classroom…:
Little rows of masked faces.
I am grateful for an unchanging God.
There is no way to explain to a classroom of children that they cannot sing. In fact, there is so much we really can’t explain right now. I am agreeing that our unchanging God is the One who is pulling us through.
Mary, I loved reading your words here, and the lessons you’ve learned as we figure out how to live in the world as it is today. I was nodding my head as I read about your first month. With my boys home and uncertainty swirling around me, I struggled to work on writing projects. When I stopped focusing so much on the news and created a plan, that seemed to help me become more focused.
There’s so much truth in what you’ve shared. I especially liked, “The normal we knew is not going to exist in the same form as we move forward. But contentment is possible and hope never leaves when you trust that God is in control.”
No matter what we face in this world, when we live like we BELIEVE God is in control, we are going to stand firm when the world tries to rock us.
I wonder if the first month was as scattered and unfocused for others as it was for me. It sounds like you were with me in the same place. I’m feeling okay that we are not going to return to “normal.” I am sure that God has a much better plan. The last sentence in your comment speaks such amazong truth. Thank you.
I followed a somewhat similar trajectory. At first I thought I’d have great opportunity to use all this time at home and get lots of writing done. But I couldn’t get my thoughts in gear while adjusting to the changes. That seemed to be happening to a lot of us. But God gave grace to adjust and move forward. I’m also avoiding the news and scrolling through rather than spending a lot of time with Facebook. That’s one of my prayers almost every day, that I’d use my time wisely. In my mind, that looks like getting the things done I want to do. But God sometimes has different plans for me. I’m not always good at course corrections through the day, but I am trying to be.
Thank you for your honesty, Barbara. I know I had a hard time writing and reading. It was a focusing issue for me because of everything that was going on in the world. I like your idea of course correction because there are days now that I need to implement it. Thanks for sharing.