‘I just don’t have the time’
If one more person tells me how “crazy busy” they are and then proceeds to summarize, in detail, the entire season of a TV show on Netflix, I’m going to . . . write a column about it.
Most of us have no idea what real “busy” is. (I imagine “busy” looking more like working two jobs while single parenting and caring for an aging parent.)
True, there are days when one activity flows directly into the next. Our Facebook page goes unchecked, the newspaper lies untouched on the table.
The funny thing is that virtually everything that makes us so busy can ultimately be abandoned. Our kid can drop piano. We can resign as Parent Steering Committee president. We can have hot pizza brought to our front door.
One of the oft-forgotten privileges of upper- and middle-class life is the ability to shape our days. Even within the obligation to provide basic physical needs for ourselves and our dependents (i.e., earning money), we possess options.
Owning our choices can be difficult. So we embrace a more helpless posture with six little words: “I just don’t have the time.”
“I should exercise, but I just don’t have the time.”
“There’s a blood drive today, but . . . ”
“I wish I read more books, but . . . ”
Obviously, we can’t do everything. We shouldn’t do everything. This is most emphatically not an exhortation to do more. It is about taking responsibility.
If there is anything we all have equally, it is the 24 hours in the day. We do things because we’ve prioritized them above all the other options, not because we don’t have the time.
The six little words work fabulously with money, as well.
“We’d like to send our kids to a private Christian school, but we just don’t have the money.”
“I should buy all organic and local food, but . . . ”
Of course, there are things that I could never afford, but 80 percent of the things for which we claim insufficient funds are within our reach, should we be willing to make the needed changes and sacrifices.
It is sometimes unpleasant to realize that the things we claim to value are not what we actually prioritize. Like when I told my son I couldn’t read him a book and then spent 20 minutes online checking out the best and worst dressed at the Oscars.
But, God be praised, there is also great freedom in honesty. Why are crafts do-it-yourself at our house? Because I don’t want to be involved. I can barely draw a stick figure and would rather stab pencils in my eyes than figure out how to transform a toilet paper roll into some sort of animal. Embracing this has freed me from quantities of guilt. I’m not a bad mother, just a bad artist.
Most of the time we choose between several worthy options. These aren’t easy choices, but they’re still choices. Just because there isn’t a right or wrong choice doesn’t make the “why” less important.
When our girls started asking for electronics, we were careful to articulate that while we could afford a $200 iPod (and they knew that), and the iPod would be enjoyable, we were choosing to spend that money on other things.
The Deceiver lurks in the corners of our delusion that we somehow don’t have enough. Declaring that we don’t have time or money frames our lives based on scarcity rather than abundance from which to prioritize.
Indeed, I paid last month’s Netflix membership and certainly got my money’s worth in viewing time.
Sarah Kehrberg lives in Swannanoa, N.C., and attends Asheville Mennonite Church.
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