Permission [not] to Waste Time

I have become a master of time.

Over the months and years of mothering and working and searching for beauty, I’ve developed little tricks to accomplish the things that must be done. For instance, I can unload the dryer, re-load it with fresh soggies AND put a new load of dirty clothes in the washer all in the two minutes it takes my oatmeal to cook in the microwave (folding is another story). I usually scrub down the shower while I’m taking mine. I have all manner of disinfectant wipes and cleaners tucked away in the nearest drawers…every available surface is always an arm’s length away from a quick scrub down.

When a girl has dreams, for Pete’s sake, she finds a way to fit it all in. She gets up at 5 a.m. to write a blog post; she skips lunch to go for a run; she stays up way too late leaving traces of her DNA all about the house and into the never-realm of cyberspace.

The problem? These past couple weeks I haven’t felt like mastering time. These past couple weeks I have wanted to savor it instead.

In church on Sunday, my pastor preached about Naaman. Naaman was a master of many things—one of which, I suspect, was time. I’m guessing Naaman did not like to waste time. But after hearing about the prophet Elisha’s miracles, Naaman rode a long way to ask if the man of God would cure him of his leprosy. When Elisha told Naaman—the great commander of armies—to wash in the river Jordan seven times and he would be cured…well, Naaman was angry. He thought it would be a waste of time.

When I read Naaman’s story, I started thinking about all the things I have seen as a waste of time. How, these past couple weeks, these time-wasters are the only things that seem to make sense. It’s the long walks under the moon, the whispers under the covers at night, the looking him in the eye when we say goodbye in the morning. It’s the sitting with, and the slow touch, and the taste of chocolate. And it’s how I’ve been thinking about what makes people happy and knowing it’s not sterile countertops and two-minute laundry marathons. And I think about the boy who left us and I look at mine and it’s the way they still let me rub their backs, pull them close when we sit in the pew at church.

And I think about Naaman dipping seven times in the river Jordan and I know. It’s the dipping into these things, seven times, seventy times, a million times…this dipping into the things that feels like a waste of time—if we are willing—that usher us into the presence of God.

It’s all these things that seem like a waste of time that make us clean.

For who, when these things are taken away, wouldn’t trade all that she has to have them back again? To fold the socks, to wash the bowl, to tuck the covers in tight around the sleepyhead?

There are things that need doing—why not dip in with love? I’m trying to hold on to this, friends. Before it slips through my fingers like so much muddy water from the Jordan River.

with the amazing Jen:

and dear Michelle too:


  1. says

    Beautiful post Laura, I seem to be letting go of the house work…knowing how precious time is and spending it with those I love.
    Today, I even put off a few errands till tomarrow to spend time with my son in law and granddaughter.
    I think at times God has a way of making us take notice of what is the more important.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. says

    Beautifully said, and I love the title. How often we feel we need permission. I have given myself permission on several fronts, but on occasion, if I get to reading too many experts, I begin to feel “driven” again and have to remind myself I don’t need to be in all the races. 🙂

  3. says

    Throughout the whole post, I just kept hearing God whisper my word for 2012. “This is cultivation, right here, embedded in these words, Jen.”

    You’ve hit my heart. In a good way. In a reminding way.

    Do you have any interest in using this post as a guest post in my cultivation series?

  4. says

    What an encouraging note today, wow I feel sometimes my time is wasted on stuff that don’t really matter, but I also know in the big picture, it ‘does matter’ when I write something that is a legacy for those who read it later. It ‘does matter’ when I choose to take a ‘slow walk’ instead of walk for the sake of exercise. Life matters and when someone leaves us early we truly realize what becomes important and what does not.
    thank you…for the words.

  5. says

    Yes, Laura…I’m cheering you on…Keep dipping in love, rubbing backs in love, taking time to talk under the covers…reading your lovely post made me think about how God’s ways are not focused on time-efficiency like Naaman…this is funny, but my post today was on learning to trust God’s slow work…thanks, my friend for your encouragement here and on my blog 🙂

  6. says

    When my babies were little I got up each day at 4:00 to write for two hours until my “momma-ing” began. As I aged I became aware that each moment doesn’t have to be full and accounted for. A leisurely lunch with God’s Word is sometimes the best use of our time.

  7. says

    So lovely, Laura. I’m wanting to savor more as well. And feeling both driven and deeply discouraged about all this writing stuff. I’m asking for the ability and willingness to release all the angst and to savor the time I’m given. So thank you for these good thoughts.

  8. says

    “It’s the sitting with and the slow touch..” Before heaven and God’s angels, these are the treasures. What we call first, he calls last. What we call last, he honors most.
    When we stand before the throne, we will be amazed.

    I have no doubt that those moments when I took time to touch someone and to sit with them will be high on his list of significant events in my life. Yet I am usually fitting them in between other more “important” things.

    (And I like your idea of having cleaners within reach everywhere. Nice management tip!)

  9. says

    Savoring is such an expansive word. I tend to be a “shortest distance between two points” person, often missing the richness in each moment. He is a patient Teacher, though, and I am learning to be “all there” instead of there in body only, with my mind galloping off in twelve different directions. Thank you, dear Laura for helping us expect Beauty, to long for it, to savor it, even in the tiniest of pieces. I adore you, dear. 🙂

  10. says

    God is good, aye? And I love how He funnies things up and answers questions I just asked…and that He uses friends in the process. Thank you!

    This bit is my favorite:
    “It’s the sitting with, and the slow touch, and the taste of chocolate.”

    I’m adding it to my list of quotes.


  11. says

    Wasting time to get clean….
    As a little boy (and probably most of my peers), The bath was a huge time waster! There were places to go, things to do.

    What a wonderful, insightful post

  12. says

    All the efficiency I can marshall doesn’t make anyone feel loved.

    That tells me a whole lot about its value. Thank you for inviting me to think more carefully about how I spend the coin of time….the only coin we can’t mint.

  13. says

    Laura, our sermon was about Naaman too (its the lectionary) and I wrote about him in my post yesterday. But your description of your day was like looking in a mirror. Oh my! Down to getting up at 5am. (Except I don’t run which I am convicted about daily.)I have let dishes pile up on my sink over the past 24 hours, I’m feeling this too. Blessings friend.

  14. says

    This is beautiful Laura and I could SO relate to your description at the beginning.
    I had to think about your title several time…
    How to truly NOT waste time.
    This is how I want to live…
    Thank you.

  15. says

    Yes, this was what I needed to hear today, to be reminded that my idea of time management might be different from the Author of time. I hope to waste a lot of time this weekend, soaking in the very presence of Jesus.

  16. says

    “Why not dip in with love?” Yes, such good perspective. The tragic loss to your community certainly clarifies so much, I imagine. I remember hearing of a mother losing a child and seeing his handprint on the storm door glass. She had it cut out and framed. Amazing what can become a treasure.

  17. says

    This is the 3rd time the Naaman story has come to me in the past couple days. I think I need to take Naaman a little more seriously.

    I am going to *try* to fast from multitasking during Lent. I need to savor time too, one thing at a time.

    Thanks, Laura. This is profound.

  18. says

    Wow, Laura! You’ve found a way to word perfectly all that I have been sensing in my heart; this is exactly what I needed to hear to put things into perspective. It’s so easy to get busy with “stuff” that we tend to forget what’s really important. Important are those things we will wish we would have done when the people we love are finally gone from among us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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