When the doctor told me after my accident that I would be off work for 6-8 weeks, I felt like I'd just won the time lottery. As the time got extended month after month, I smiled as my winnings multiplied. Who doesn't dream of taking a break, of having a several-month sabbatical to simply rest or do whatever their hearts desired? Mine came upon me suddenly, so I had no time to prepare ahead of time about how I would spend such a wonderful gift or consider what I would and should do. I didn't want to waste it.
Initially I made lists. I wrote down the things I'd said I would love to do if I could just find the time. Quickly I realized that one way to waste the time would be to halfheartedly start on several items and not complete any of them because I had simply picked too many. Better to make just a couple of choices, give myself wholly to them and accomplish them well.
But which ones? Guilt over chores I had neglected for years battled against the desire to try something new. And just as Powerball winners are besieged with monetary requests from long-lost relatives and even total strangers, I found the same to be true with my sudden allotment of time; lots of other people wanted to lay claim to it or had ideas of how it should be spent. Then there were the many ordinary life events that I often missed out on because my work schedule wouldn't accommodate them; here was my chance to enjoy some of those. Adding to the confusion was the fact that everything initially took longer than usual to accomplish because of my arm injury, and there were doctor visits, physical therapy appointments and exercises I needed to do at home to fit into the mix, as well.
Obviously the need to get my arm fully functional again took center stage. I did what was required at home and attended therapy sessions as scheduled. In the middle of a publishing project when the accident happened, keeping pace with the writing assignments my editor was sending me became a similar priority. When my husband was about to hire outside help for some transcription work he needed done on a writing project he was working on, I took the job on myself in an effort to reduce expenses at a time when my income was reduced, as well. I forced myself to help him with some decluttering projects and yard work I'd normally avoid, simply because I had the time to offer and enjoyed the surprised look on his face when I volunteered. And then I wallowed in all the church services, prayer meetings, home Bible studies, softball games, birthday celebrations and televised sporting events I so often had missed because of my work schedule. Extra time with my husband was a special blessing. I had a full and satisfying stay at home.
One of the greatest pleasures during this time was my unbroken fellowship with God. I didn't necessarily devote extra time in this pursuit; it just developed as a matter of course once the distractions of my regular lifestyle were removed. A new awareness of His presence permeated everything I did, and as we chatted, laughed, and sometimes even cried our way through these last few weeks, the time became more precious as a result of spending it with Him.
Perhaps one of the purposes of these last few weeks was to remind me that “free time” is really just a state of mind. My allotment of 24 hours each day is always mine to spend as I please, despite the demands of a daily routine. And the more of that time treasure I spend with God, the more I find I am simply rich beyond measure.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...”
(Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV)