Precious Seconds

By Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Time is precious to me. Unencumbered, unscheduled days with my family are a blissful blessing. Even a few moments spent chatting online with a dear friend means the world to me. One of my love languages is quality time. The problem with time is that is disappears so fast. In an instant, a week or a year or a whole lifetime can vanish into mere memory, and it never comes back.

Because I cherish the time given to me, I try to save it anywhere I can, snatching seconds into my purse like a squirrel and her precious stash of acorns. Practically speaking, that equates into a mastery of multitasking. The faster I can get things done, the more time will be left over after the tasks are finished. I figure that if I can save a minute here and there, possibly stretch an hour once in a while, maybe I can harness the ability to alter the space-time continuum.

I find extreme pleasure in saving even half a second by using shortcut keys in software programs. I regularly unsubscribe from useless email lists that I was compelled to join. Getting back a few minutes by carrying in five grocery bags instead of two is a welcome challenge. (Yes, I'm that person who will suffer a burn from twisted plastic handles before I take more car-to-kitchen trips than absolutely necessary.)

After all, Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Should I not make use of every nanosecond provided to me in this life so I have time to love God and love people?

I have often considered the way I do choose to spend my time. Sure, there are some activities that might be perceived as time wasters to some, but they all serve a purpose. Going to see The Hobbit five times in the company of an innocently-obsessed friend isn't pointless; it is appreciating and displaying adoration of my friend's quirkiness. Staying up until 3:00 AM to instant message with a distant friend who has been having a hard week is not a waste of slumber time; it is caring for a dear one who needs care and counsel. Spending six hours with my daughter, hunched over a sewing machine and flowery skirt fabric (even though I know virtually nothing about sewing), is not a waste of a Saturday; it is a way for me to show her "I love you" more than words can express.

Of the seconds available in my universe, the time I spend one-on-one with my favorite people is the best of the best, the crème de la crème, the topmost paragon of the clock face. Loving people has come naturally since God's love took residence in my heart (1 John 4:11), and it is one of my biggest priorities. I would sacrifice many an "important" errand in order to spend that time on someone who needs love.

I appreciate the social media technology available today that helps us connect with loved ones around the world. I have friends and family who live far away, and since there is little time for phone calls or writing long emails, Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in contact in little ways between the more significant hours. Sometimes a single caring comment on a photo can encourage a person for the whole day.

But I am not writing this little missive in order to pat myself on the back. I suppose my motivation is more selfish. Perhaps more for the alleviation of guilt than anything else. With a sprinkle of need for justification. Why and for what, you ask? It has become a recent dubious goal of mine to make use of the dreaded "unfriending" ability on Facebook. Such an action feels so devious, so underhanded, so...unfriendly.

The purge began when I noticed that I was spending an inordinate amount of time having to scroll past the status updates of people who did not care in the least about me and who, honestly, I cared nothing about either. (Other than the fact that they are perfectly fine human beings to whom I would not wish harm.) Mind you, there was nothing malicious in this consideration; it was just a simple reality. With our limited emotional resources, we can really only take on so many individuals into our focus—at least, that's how it works for this introvert.

I know there are ways to hide people from your news feed or limit what you see, but what's the point? If I'm not connected to them personally, why should I continue pretending I am for the sake of a Facebook link? So my friends list dwindles as I wipe the seconds of waste off the minute hands of my life. None of these people have noticed, as I suspected, for anyone who cares is someone I care about too.

As the blips on my news feed disappear, more of the ones that are truly meaningful have begun to emerge. Jesus told His followers, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34). Is it not wise to invest our precious seconds on earth in spreading the love of God to the people we are called to love?

Image Credit: zhouxuan12345678; "Hug"; Creative Commons

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Published 5-30-13