My church has been very generous in giving me some time off recently to care for my wife and family. Sara’s breast cancer has spread to her brain, and continues to grow there despite multiple surgeries, radiation treatments, and drugs. So she has at times been unable to walk, and still cannot drive or use the stairs.
Having more time at home to invest in my family has revealed something to me: I’m even more selfish than I realized. I used to think I’d be more patient and spend more quality time with my family if I weren’t so busy with work.
But now that I have more time at home, I have learned two things:
1) We make time for what’s important.
2) We make the wrong things important.
For years I said to myself, “If I had more time, I would floss more, exercise more, and pray more.” Then I realized the truth: Those things were hard, and that is why I didn’t do them. I didn’t consider them important enough to make time for them.
Flossing, exercise, and prayer are Quadrant 2 issues for most of us—important, but not urgent. So they get superseded by Quadrant 1 and 3 stuff.
Quadrant 1 things are hard to avoid. So when the doctor says you have gum disease and high cholesterol, flossing and exercise are suddenly important and urgent. When your wife has stage IV cancer, prayer becomes both important and urgent.
The key is to make those things priorities before they become urgent problems. We must live more in Quadrant 2 and less in Quadrant 3.
Join me in asking the Lord to help us see that time with Him (through prayer and the spiritual disciplines) and time with our loved ones (both quality time and quantity time) are both urgent and important. (Read more about this in the very helpful book Spiritual Disciplines by Dallas Willard.)
Too often, I see people as obstacles to what I think is important. I forget that in God’s eyes, people are always the most important thing.
So I confess to you, friends and spiritual siblings, three things the Holy Spirit in His kindness has revealed to me during this season of life. I have too often been Silent, Selfish, and Still:
Silent—When I’m not sure what to say, to family or friends, I too often stay quiet. Fear and laziness zip my mouth shut. I need to take time to pray for wisdom, and to find the words God wants me to say.
Selfish—I’m often more focused on my own desires, needs, and comfort than the people around me—including those I live with. And I can use Sara’s cancer and our many needs as an excuse for my own self-centeredness.
Still—I need to seek and strive, rather than just survive. I’m often passive when I could be active. I miss things the Lord wants to teach me, because I don’t take more time to speak to Him and listen to Him.
Would you pray for me that I would use my time more wisely? That I would see what is truly important, and make choices accordingly? Thank you very much.