Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Gift of Time

Time is one of the most precious things we have to give to those we love. Even though anyone can share their time with others, it can still be a difficult gift to give. I have many demands on my time, and sometimes I have trouble deciding how best to use the time I have. By investing my time wisely, I have the opportunity to show others how important they are to me. Whenever I start a conversation, call someone to catch up, or schedule a social date, I let the other person know that our relationship is a priority for me. Nothing else I could do expresses the same level of commitment as my eagerness to spend time with people I love.

So many people seem to focus too much on using their time to get money, prestige, or personal fulfillment. I do want to be successful, but what I want most is to be a loving family member, a good friend, and an actively contributing member of my community. The people who really love me want my time more than they want expensive gifts. Likewise, my church and the organizations I'm passionate about benefit from my willingness to volunteer just as much as they do from my money. I'm learning that money without time isn't really very useful in a loving relationship. On our deepest level, most of us yearn to connect with others, and no amount of money, gadgets, fame, or accomplishments can take away that need. It can only be met by spending time with people we love.

I suffer when I don't get enough time with the people I love. I start to feel isolated and unimportant, and I worry about the status of my relationships. I'm beginning to realize that when I feel alone, I shouldn't retreat into my solitude. Instead I should reach out to others and try to find more opportunities to share my time. Some of the people I offer to share my time with may not be available or interested, but eventually I will find someone who does want to connect with me. Then, as I give the gift of my time, I will be able to enjoy that person's time as well, and I won't feel so alone anymore. I know that my struggles are not unique, so I can also help my loved ones by being more intentional and proactive about sharing my time with them. I don't want the people I love to have to wonder if they're important to me. I want to be able to be there for them before they even have to ask.

I sometimes worry that I don't have anything of value to give my loved ones, but I am beginning to realize that sometimes my time is all I need to give in order to make a difference. I may not have money to give fancy gifts, but I can provide companionship and support. I may not have words of wisdom, but I can offer a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, and a smile to sustain someone else's joy. I have evenings to spend playing board games with friends and hours to pass on the phone with my family. I have time to pray, even for the people who don't have time for me. I have moments to brainstorm about how I can help meet someone else's needs. As long as I have time to give, I will always have something valuable to offer the people I love.

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