I had an epiphany this week.
- We complain, but go back for more.
- We dig in our heels, but end up caving anyway.
- We get angry, but often forgive.
- We issue ultimatums, but never carry them out.
It occurred to me that we waste so much time and energy ‘in the middle’.
For instance, I recently spoke with someone who was spittin’ mad, and I do mean spittin’ mad, at her ex-husband. It’s important to acknowledge this wasn’t the first battle of this magnitude. Instead of wasting her time and energy being mad, she could either choose to compromise or bring new information to the court’s attention and fight for change. But either way, her fury would neither change nor accomplish anything. Why waste time and energy going through unproductive and destructive motions?
Another friend was lamenting over how tired she was of always being the instigator in friendships. She just wanted someone else to initiate for a change. I could hear the frustration and heartache in her words and it was clear she was dead-set on ‘waiting it out’ until she was finally approached, regardless of how long that would take. The problem with her plan, though, is I know her all too well, and I believe if God called on her to initiate once again, she would graciously oblige in short order. Why waste time going through unproductive and inaccurate motions?
What about the husband threatening to leave his spouse even though he has absolutely no intention of following through with his threat? Why waste time going through unproductive and hurtful motions?
Why do we waste so much time and energy with negative behaviors that often don’t, and sometimes shouldn’t, change our course of action in the long run?
To be fair, sometimes a second ‘go round’ is warranted, caving is gracious, forgiving is necessary, and there are ultimatums that are best never to be carried out. My objective isn’t to promote a ‘stick to your guns no matter what’ mentality, but rather to advocate that we stop expending unproductive energy in the first place. If you’re fairly certain you KNOW what the end result is going to be, and your actions aren’t going to change a thing, why waste time and energy in the middle? Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s still a waste. Wouldn’t it be prudent to spend that time and energy getting it right on the front side?
We live as though our earthly time is limitless. As though each minute gone by isn’t lost forever or doesn’t carry tremendous value. Where does this wastefulness come from?
We’ve become a disposable generation. We don’t keep things very long. We’d rather produce more quickly and cheaply than concern ourselves with quality. If it breaks, we replace it instantly. With the internet, you can find just about anything you want, anywhere, at any time. Everything, it seems, is readily available.
Even though this era has seen tremendous technological advancements, it has come at a cost.
Wastefulness happens, in part, because we lack value.
I’m not saying this is intentional. In fact, I suspect for most of us it’s wholly unintentional. We don’t wake up in the morning and think, “How can I be an unproductive, difficult, time-waster today?”
What we do, however, is react emotionally to challenges. And while I’m not advocating a new generation of Stepford Christians (did I just age myself?), I think there’s definitely some room for improvement without becoming robotic.
Consider the road from point A to point B and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my behavior going to positively affect the outcome?
- Am I being truly honest with myself? With the person I’m dealing with? With God?
- Do I really mean what I’m saying?
- Do I intend to carry out my threat?
- Does my behavior bring glory to God’s Kingdom?
- Am I being selfish? Nasty? Or otherwise discourteous?
- Am I substituting one emotion for another? For instance, using anger to cover up sadness?
- Am I reacting emotionally, not rationally?
- Do I sound like a broken record?
- Am I wasting time by creating drama?
A ‘NO’ to any questions from 1-5 and/or a ‘YES’ to any questions from 6-10 indicate red flags to evaluate. Reflect on what you are saying or doing and why. Construct a healthier, more positive, productive path from A to B and declutter this type of wastefulness from your life. Not only will you have more time and energy to be routed towards joyful things, BUT you’ll likely diffuse arguments, ditch pettiness, and improve relationships in the process.
From James 4:14 we know, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Our sweet time here on earth is limited. Let’s live, fully embracing this truth, and make the most of the precious time God has provided.