As you read this post, I encourage you to listen to my favorite song of the moment, “Day that I Die” by Zac Brown Band. It also happens to align pretty well with the topic of my post today.
Since I was little, my mom has taught me “time is the best gift you can give someone.” I don’t think I fully understood what she meant until time suddenly started moving faster. I finished my senior year of college, spent my last summer in Blacksburg, and moved to South Carolina to start my graduate school adventure. Through these milestones, I have focused much of my energy on time and how I spend mine. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always efficient with the use of my time. I could always make more time to exercise or call my grandparents or cook a real, fresh dinner. But I’ve started to do new things with my time that enrich my life and make me really happy. I Skype once a week with one of mentors and dearest friends, Meg. I write at least one hand-written note each week and send it in the mail. I make time to read something I enjoy every night. Taking the time to invest in things that enhance your thoughts and feelings is a great gift you can give yourself.
But then there’s giving the gift of time to others as well, and today, one of my favorite authors gifted this to me.
A little backstory on this particular author: I randomly stumbled upon the book Love Does by Bob Goff when I was browsing amazon.com for books by one of my long-time favorite authors, Donald Miller. Bob and Don are friends and write very similarly, so I decided to order Love Does. I just finished it last week and can say that this book changed my attitude towards life. I don’t want this post to be a book review, so just know that this book illustrates the occurrences of everyday life with a religious context. The title summarizes the mentality that love is a verb, it’s something you do, something you engage in and exemplify through intentional action. At the end of the book, Bob writes a brief note about the essence of time. He says:
“One of the things I’ve learned following Jesus is how much He enjoyed being with people...He didn’t just love the idea of being with people either, He actually loved being with them. A lot of people in the world stop being available at some point. It’s subtle, because it happens a little at a time and it’s not malicious or anything—it happens though. But Jesus wasn’t that way. He seemed to have more time for people as time went on, not less. That’s one of the things which makes love so powerful; it leaves us a way to find it (p. 224).”
And then he lists his phone number at the end incase he can be of any help.
Now, to give a little bit of context to my life lately, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming. The professor for my favorite class had us complete a dream exercise about a month ago. We listed out all of our biggest, limitless dreams and selected which one was our top dream. We vowed to take calculated steps towards achieving these dreams. What was my dream? To write a book. About what? I have no idea, and I think that is why it has remained just a distant dream to me. I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in what I have to say, and I didn’t think that I could say anything worth reading. As a grad student, I’ve learned to question almost everything, and my dreams were no exception. Why shouldn’t I write a book? Why shouldn’t people want to read what I have to say? Why not me?
After reading Bob’s book and seeing his phone number at the end, I decided to give him a call to see what words of wisdom he would offer. Yesterday afternoon, I called and left Bob a rambling voicemail. I posted a tweet to him saying how cool it was to leave a voicemail for such an awesome author. He sent a tweet back saying that he was on his way to Uganda (btw you should check out all the time that this man dedicates to the people of Uganda here). I thought it was awesome that I heard back from him so quickly, but I figured I wouldn’t get to talk to him for another month or so.
Today, I was in the office when I received a phone call from a random number. It was Bob Goff. Yes, he was on his way to Uganda, but he wanted to make sure he returned my call. His contagious energy overflowed through the phone and filled me with such joy. I told him all about my dream and my ideas about traveling abroad, particularly to Uganda. He was so welcoming and told me I should go to Uganda with him and his team. “Bring your Moleskin and you can get some writing done here,” he told me. He even suggested that he would like to read over some of my writing. I could tell that he was in an airport, so I made plans to email him and call him back in a few weeks. I would really like to take him up on that offer to visit Uganda.
This is one of the coolest lessons of the value of time that I have ever experienced. We all have friends that will say they’ll call and never do. That stings because it often feels like those people aren’t just busy, but that they don’t have time for us in their lives. Sometimes we don’t make the conscious effort to fully engage in relationships and friendships because we think that the momentary things that are going on in our lives right now are urgent—and the friends and family will still be there next week, next month, next semester, next year…but we all know that postponing relationships in exchange for meeting deadlines is not a fulfilling way to live. Taking time to talk with someone is a basic way to tell them “what you have to say is important,” or “your question is valid,” or “I value the opportunity to talk with you.” It’s the best way to say “I care.”
So when Bob Goff, someone who I know is very busy and knows way more people than I do, took the time during his day of travel to call me back, I was so touched. Many of us underestimate the power and gift of time, and like Bob wrote in the back of his book, Jesus did not allow time to come between Him and His people. It is my hope to live like Jesus, like time is not of the essence. I hope I may give time abundantly to people, especially those I love.
As I write this post, I am reminded of a quote that I read a few months ago in a newsletter:
“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” -Robert Brault
It’s nice when busy people fit time in their schedules to spend with us, but I really value those who don’t need to “pencil me in.” It’s ironic because I used to measure the value of my time by the color-coded meetings and events in my planner. Schedules shouldn’t regulate your relationships with the people that matter most, and staying in touch shouldn’t be such a hassle because it should be natural for you to make time for people. Now, I measure my time not by my calendar, but by my conversations. Not text messages or emails. Real, face-to-face, or at least phone call, conversations. Though I know I haven’t mastered this, I strive for it continually. I challenge you to give the gift of time too.
Love Does Time.