How do I feel about time, really? Am I working with it or against it. I’ve had time anxiety during seasons of my life, particularly when my son was a young tween/teen. He was certainly independent enough that I could go off and leave him, but in my heart I was comfortable for only for so long. I could be in a store and suddenly feel like I had to get out and get home. I thought perhaps I was suffering claustrophobia. But it might happen even if I was the only person in a store. Finally, one day I realized that it was all related to time.
I had always been pathological about being late for any event, including church. People who were habitually late seemed disrespectful of me and my time. But the pressure to be on time sometimes had me pacing impatiently at the door waiting for my husband or my children who didn’t seem so bothered by time. In Every Day Holy, Meredith Barnes writes, “What is going to happen if I am late? Most often the answer to that question revealed my pride or the desire to be liked.” Or the answer might be that I could miss an airplane! That has happened to me in my life (perhaps feeding my natural time-anxiety?)
Since my children have grown and have children of their own, my time anxiety has changed, but I can still see it rear its ugly head if I’m stuck in traffic on my way to the airport or a doctor’s appointment. It is not gone. It is just below the surface, waiting to be triggered again. One of Meredith’s challenges in her book is to consider how I might invite God to participate in my view of time.
In my young mothering years, I was introduced to Karen Mains’ book Making Sunday Special. Her study of Sabbath rhythms inspired me to structure my preparation time for church by setting aside Saturday night to physically, spiritually and emotionally prepare for the next day’s worship. By setting out my children’s clothes, listening to the scriptures that would be read in the next day’s service, slowing down, or getting to bed earlier, my husband and I were able to establish a new pattern of preparation… able to avoid the frantic last-minute rush on Sunday mornings. New habits actually stretched my enjoyment of my worshiping community. Dave and I started planning for informal lunch gatherings after church…Subway sandwiches and games by the pool with a revolving group of friends in different combinations.
Like Meredith I know that “there is rarely a day when I have a purely pleasant interaction with time.” But I also know that I don’t have to be stuck there. I can allow God into my time anxiety and watch him massage a healthier view of time into my heart.
P.S. Why would I have been at all nervous about not being home, when I knew my teenage son was doing skateboard tricks as in this photo? At least this time he was wearing wrist-guards and a helmet!