I had a revelation at the gas pump yesterday. I realized that the last several times I’ve leaned against the mini-van, nozzle gushing into the tank, I’ve clicked off the pump before it automatically clicked off itself.
I’ve driven away with half a tank, too rushed, too busy, to allow myself the time to pump a full tank of gas.
Now granted, I drive a beast of a mini-van with an enormous twenty-five gallon tank. When she’s flatlining on empty, it takes a while for that dashboard dial to crawl all the way to Full. But still…what’s it take…four, five minutes, tops? I’m so busy I can’t wait the four minutes for the ‘ol girl to fill?
In a word, no. I’m not that busy. I’m choosing to be that busy.
A few years back, my best friend Andrea and I used to talk for at least a full hour every single Friday afternoon. We did this for years. It was a standing date each week, and I looked forward to it. I brewed myself a cup of tea, arranged a handful of ginger snaps on a plate, settled into the corner of the couch with the sun on my feet. That weekly hour with Andrea sustained me.
To be fair, Andrea and I aren’t stay-at-home moms anymore. We both work now. Our boys are older. We do have more demands on our time, this is true. Yet something noticeable has changed. We talk perhaps once a month, usually when one or both of us is shuttling across town on yet another errand or another boy drop-off. I’m hardly ever sitting in an actual chair in my actual house when I talk to Andrea these days. We don’t intentionally set aside a regular time for our friendship like we used to do. Instead, we squeeze it in wherever it will fit.
What’s happened with Andrea — this squeezing our friendship into a sliver of time instead of intentionally making a true space for it — is indicative of what’s happening in every part of my life. I’m simply squeezing it all in — here, there, wherever I can find an available slot.
Fifteen minutes of Bible study in the morning as I swallow down my English muffin; ten minutes of reading while I wait to pick the boys up from school; an email dashed off before bed; a Voxer message recorded as I walk across Walgreen’s parking lot.
Society tells us we are allowed to rest, we are allowed margin and space and time, we are allowed to re-fuel, when our work is done. When every last box on our to-do list is ticked. When every errand is run and deadline is met. When the last tee shirt is folded and in the drawer.
Yesterday, as I drove away from the gas pump with my tank half-full, I realized this is a big, fat lie.
Society may demand this overextension of ourselves, but we don’t need to succumb to its lure.
Society may tell us we are not worthwhile or valuable or pulling our weight unless we are doing all of the things, every last one, but we don’t need to buy into that myth.
Society may tell us that this sliver-squeezing way of life is the norm, but we don’t have to sign on the dotted line.
Here’s the truth, friends (and I know you’ve heard this before, but if you’re anything like me, living the squeezy-squeeze life, you need to hear it again):
God gives us the gift of rest. It’s called Sabbath, and it’s made especially for us (and it doesn’t necessarily have to happen on Sunday, or even all at once on a single day of the week).
We can allow ourselves margin – the space to pump a full tank of gas, for heaven’s sake — because that margin is a gift made especially for us.
We can allow ourselves the space to respond to an email properly, with fully articulated sentences and thoughtfulness, because that space is a gift made especially for us.
We can allow ourselves the time to pick up the phone and settle into the sunny corner of the couch instead of a text dashed off at a red light, because that time is a gift made especially for us.
Let’s not let society tell us we don’t have the time anymore. We do have the time. God gives us time — plenty of it, in fact. We each get to decide how we’ll use it, so let’s not squander the gift made especially for us.