*This article was originally posted on For the Family.
I have a new nemesis. It’s the Facebook memories feature. Seems like every time I get comfy with the fact that my firstborn is now a freshman in high school—that she’s only four years away from moving out, moving on, growing beyond her mother’s walls—BAM, stinking Facebook hits me with a pic of my baby girl at age 3, or 7, or from last year for crying out loud, and I’m struck all over again by how quickly this parenting thing has flown.
So I wonder… how can I halt time? How can we parents command the clock to stand still, to freeze those sacred moments in which we can truly soak up these precious children we’ve raised and love with all our hearts?
We can’t. God keeps rolling our linear lives forward, one second at a time, and that’s just how we must follow. But we CAN make some smart decisions about how we’re spending the seconds He gives us.
HERE ARE MY FAVORITE GUIDELINES FROM SCRIPTURE FOR HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIME WE’RE GIVEN.
1. Make people a priority. Relationships are important to God. He’s been in relationship with Himself since the beginning of time: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Since we were made in His image, we too are made to be in relationship with one another.
But we stink at it sometimes, don’t we?
It’s easy to let stress, busy schedules, or pride get in the way of our moments together. We forget to look each other in the eyes or ask, “How was your day”—then actually listen to the answer.
In God’s economy, we ought to do whatever we can to preserve, heal, and nurture our relationships with other people—especially with our spouses and children. That means not allowing grudges to build up and fester. It means giving our loved ones the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they are our friends and not our enemies. Most marriages could be transformed if we simply learned to look at each other as allies, with mostly good—if not sometimes misguided—intentions. So let’s remember people matter most… and act like we believe it.
2. Make room for interruptions. On one hand, it’s wise to be intentional with our time. That’s good stewardship. But sometimes I think we become so “intentional” that we actually drown out the voice of God and His opinion of how we should spend our time. That’s not good planning. That’s being a control freak. I know this because I am one.
A few years ago, I remember a text I got from a friend who was going through a terribly difficult time. She had recently lost her husband, and she needed someone to spend the day with her while she returned to their home and cleaned out some closets. She asked if I would join her.
Trouble was, I had something else on my calendar that day—a training event for women’s ministry leaders at church. This was a “good” thing in God’s eyes!
So… I could go to church to learn how to minister to people…
Or I could go to my friend’s home to actually minister to people.
Guess which one I chose? Yep, my friend. And that day we had a conversation that led to the topic of my second book. In hindsight, I know without a doubt that’s where God wanted me that day. But I almost missed it—by being too “intentional” to see God’s will staring me straight in the face.
Our kids are notorious for providing interruptions in our intended agendas. But sometimes those interruptions are God’s way of getting us back on track. Let’s not dread them, but be eager to discover what God plans to do with them instead.
3. Quit waiting around for your prince to come. Are you discontent and waiting for a change? Hoping for a different job, a different house, healing or rescue or some answer to a long-prayed prayer? I get that. I’ve been there. I’m living there currently—in our 5-year starter home that we’ve now owned for 18 years. I think I’m entitled to a kitchen island by now.
So I’ve made the mistake before of spending my perspective grumbling about the things I want for my future—and letting the present slip by all the while.
While my kids chatter in my ear, telling me about school.
While my husband invites me to sit on the old sofa in the old living room to watch Netflix.
While our dogs who roll around on the carpet I need to shampoo but won’t—because I’m just so bitter about not having NEW carpet—lick me in the face and beg to play fetch.
Life happens all around us, offering joy and blessings galore. We just have to wipe the discontentment from our eyes to see what’s been there all along. Can you see it? Your prince has already come.
4. Live today in light of eternity. We think childhood flies by so fast, what about life in general? The time we spend here is so short compared to life in heaven. God’s Word calls it a “mist.” It “appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
So what is our goal? As Christian parents, what should we aim to do with our time?
Will all this time we spent worrying get our kids any closer to heaven?
Will all the books we read, the movies we watched, the stuff we shopped for, the degrees we earned, the job titles we claimed—what will they amount to in the long run?
I have this phrase I like to use sometimes, it’s called “parenting backwards.” The basic idea is this:
What do you want your kids to say about you tomorrow? What end result do you want to achieve? What legacy do you want to leave?
Then make decisions today that will lead to that goal.
You want to raise kids who love the Lord?
Put down the phone and spend time with them today, showing them grace by example.
You want to celebrate 60 years of marriage someday to a spouse who still thinks you’re hot stuff?
Set aside your endless to-do list and go on a date.
You want your family to say, “My mom really cared about me. My dad inspired me….”?
Then of all the hundreds of options for how to spend your day, choose the ones that show people they matter. Choose the ones that share Jesus.
We can’t go wrong by spending our time God’s way. Imagine if we could all look back one day and say—I was the parent I wanted to be! Not perfect… but faithful. What a legacy that would be!