I began typing this at 3 am and in order to do so, I had to tiptoe past my sleeping children in stealth mode to grab my laptop from my office, only to knock over a random CD from my desk, creating enough clatter to wake both. At first glance, hearing the “ugh” from my teenager and the “mom??” from my youngest seems proof of my lack of timing. So what is timing all about?
I have a dear fellow soccer parent that loves to tell jokes, has fantastic timing, and even more than that, he is always looking for time to inset a joke into a conversation. He’s a joy to be around and his comedic timing extends beyond the actual joke itself, revealing an even deeper sense of time for he is able to be fully engaged in conversation with someone and yet wrap them in a joke without he/she noticing it until the punchline. There are some jokes I may have heard more than once, but to be honest, I’m more than fine with repetition of joy. Let’s be frank – actually some days I’d rather we be Harry. He has time for people and laughter and that to me is a quintessential part of great timing.
Is timing truly everything? I am suggesting that great timing may just be all that, for it requires a deep commitment to discipline, listening and understanding. What a joy to discover the element of grace to great timing that allows for learning moments and accomplishes much more than mere timing could ever hope to. It’s the difference between keeping a beat and grooving. Anyone can plod along and keep time. Or not listen at all and be out of time.
Great timing sets a groove that is fluid and alluring, which sets the stage for unmatched musicality. On a slight tangent, I wonder why terms such as infectious, catchy and contagious are ever used to describe anything musical. Grooving is not a disease, it’s a means of healing.
Efficient is when you get things done in time. Effective is when you use your time with wisdom and get things done. Efficient and effective are wonderful and necessary but sometimes I wonder about whether these terms describe the fullness of timing. Let me introduce “great’ as the next level of time usage. Great timing is evident when patience and faith are applied to one’s paradigm of time. I may not win awards for wit on this new terminology, but there is a reason why I choose the word ‘great’. It speaks of something beyond what is planned, to a higher plane, soaring far above. It’s the kind of timing that allows for moments to meld together in a beautiful unity that brings a unique and marvelous musicality to life.
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s take everyone’s favourite topic – a clean house. Insert the topic of your choice if you cannot relate. If you cannot relate, you either have a housecleaner who you can have a discussion with or a mother who has spoiled you rotten. No, I am not talking to my own children here. I am not raising princesses – my kids know how to clean house and have to help me regularly. They haven’t figured out that it’s not really about them becoming responsible adults eventually, it’s more about the fact that I can’t bear the thought of cleaning by myself. Do not tell them this unless you are prepared to come and clean my house in their stead. But I digress. If you know me at all, you knew it would happen. In fact, I am pleased that I digressed this far into this blog. Gold star for me.
On any given day, I can get my house clean if I put my mind to it. I have a rule: the first time you come over to my house, it has got to be nearly spotless. Then I know that you know that I am capable of cleaning. Then post that, if you happen to pop by when it’s not clean, you will not immediately assume that I am a sloth. I just couldn’t live with that thought. I prefer to set myself up for success. So I have created a system whereby I am allowed to be inefficient now and again. I think it’s brilliant – feel free to borrow it. I haven’t copyrighted it yet.
Theoretically, I can plan my life so that my house is reasonably perpetually clean. That’s using my time effectively. Ask my family, I have created system upon system for daily, weekly and monthly tasks and when I am faithful with those tasks; even I am amazed by the results. There’s only one wrinkle with this. It’s effective but not always sustainable. Some may argue that I may not be effective enough. I’m not going to disagree – life is a process and I am in the process of becoming increasingly effective. Usually.
What I have found as not only sustainable but life giving is the concept of ‘great timing”. When I wake up in the morning and approach each day as a mystery and a gift, I may end up cleaning or not. Be sure, I’m making a list, but I am not married to it. Cleaning may be interrupted by an unexpected challenge or blessing or both in the form of a variety of moments such as a surprise visit from a friend or a conflict to resolve. I can choose to steamroll through either of these and remain efficient. I could even attempt to dump all of the tasks on to tomorrow’s list and stop to deal with these unanticipated events. Conversely, I could stop and make sure that I am in the groove of the moment. The deepest form of discipline in time management I have learned in the past while is to pause and listen, responding to God’s great timing.
At first glance, waking up my angelic offspring may seem inefficient. Why couldn’t I have written this blog during daylight hours? Why couldn’t I have planned my days so as to maximize my week to allow for optimum blog writing effectiveness? I may do some of that someday, but I resolve never to be a slave to my paradigm of time or to the ridiculous pride that suggests I can control, alter or manipulate around time. Time is a gift. Waiting is a privilege – it teaches lessons that one can never learn otherwise. Quickening of time brings joy and thankfulness – a reminder that God is a God of surprises and fulfilled promises.
I submit to God’s great timing and not only submit, but I embrace and am deeply thankful for the pace He sets for me. I have been given the gift of time this past year – I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t necessarily want it, but I needed it. I got what I needed, more than I had hoped or asked for, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I know what it is to wish a moment away (even months away). I have tried to manipulate my time to accomplish something that I think needs to be done in a certain time only to be subject to circumstances beyond my control which delay or distract, wasting any time seemingly gained. Psalm 127:2 says, it’s vain for me to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labours. Why? For He gives to His beloved even in His sleep. What a relief it is to me that I am not in charge of time and that I can rest in the knowledge that great timing is available to me 24-7. My only task is to trust, listen and obey. Not easy, not always fun, and not always the choice I make, but when I do, the results are undeniable musical – totally groovy. Great timing is the groove of life.
I am constantly seeing evidence of great timing and tonight (or rather, today) is one of them. God woke me up with a song in my heart and words to share, and allowed me to trip the lack of light unfantastic in fine klutzy form so that I could hear my youngest say ‘hey mom, I read so long tonight’ and for me to say ‘ I’m really proud of you, have a great sleep sweetie – I love you’. I could have never planned that moment. In a few short hours I will be up and I trust that God will quicken my sleep (using time wisely on my behalf) so that I can function. The early morning birds will be singing me to sleep shortly – how perfect is that! I am learning to choose great timing all day long over any other kind of timing.
In the same manner that the international slow food movement promotes preservation, sustainable foods and local ecosystems, a great timing movement would embrace the ebb and flow as blessings. It’s soon time for me to head back to bed and so my last question to you is simply this: will you move with the great time?
Here’s to Great Time – Groove On!
(c) Sandra Foster, Ranenpur, July 13, 2013