I think I will probably say this everyday in the month of August, but seriously where does the time go?? I feel like this summer has flown by and I am left with the sinking yet excited feeling that we are approaching another school year. I am very excited for the school year to start. I love the newness of the year, the excitement in the air and the refreshed staff and students. I love my job and I feel so fulfilled in what I do as a special education teacher. Yet there is always a small part of me that can’t help but cringe when I think of the emotionally taxing part of my job. The part that takes a toll on my mind, health and spirit. The part that sinks when I see a child come to school without breakfast, a parent desperate for an answer, and nonacceptance among peers. The part of my job that leads me to my knees when I see what little impact I can have in light of the impact I desire to make.
That being said, I have taken many different approaches to this throughout the years. This summer I have had time to reflect on me and my life, my career, relationships and well-being. Recently I have been intrigued by the concept of minimalism. Minimalism is a concept and lifestyle that inspires me. I love the idea of living only on what you need and giving up all that is excess. I am certainly not at the point that I would consider myself a minimalist, however I would love to have the mindset that focuses less on stuff and more on people, experiences, and faith. It’s constant battle in my soul but a true desire I have.
I follow a Minimalism blog. They often write inspiring and inspirational articles on this topic. Recently, I read an article that really got me thinking. The premise of the article was that we all have things in our lives that are urgent and things that are important. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well let me tell you!
In my life, no matter how busy my calendar looks, I constantly have things begging for my attention. Laundry needs to be done, emails need to be answered, deadlines that need to be met, paperwork that doesn’t complete it self. The list for the urgent things in my life seems to be endless. Even when they do end, I seem to always find the next thing to fill my time and my schedule.
The important things – time with my husband, time to chat with old friends and my family, exercise, and regular time for devotions and prayer – these things are patient. They wait for our attention, they wait for us to realize the value and weight they hold in our lives.
The problem? The urgent often trumps the important. While the important waits patiently, the urgent demands and cries out for our time and attention. Sometimes, the urgent throws an all out temper tantrum, refusing to let us ignore its existence.
So another day goes by and at the end, I look back and realize I didn’t have time for the important. The important took the back burner once again because I allowed myself to become consumed by the urgent things in my life.
In the past, as I have allowed this to happen, I realize this takes a toll. It takes a toll on my mood, on my marriage, on my faith, and on my effectiveness as a teacher. It eats away at my spirit, leaving me dry, empty and exhausted, unable to give anything else to anyone. It leaves me bitter and feeling used up. It’s empty, it’s lonely, and it leaves me desperate for a change.
It’s easy to fall in the trap of believing we have no time. We are pressed on from so many different angles that we simply have to cut in others and to an extent this is true, but too often I have cut the important to make room for the urgent. The thing about time is that we can always make time for the things that truly matter to us. We make time when we see it has value in our lives.
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’.” – Tao Lzu
The author of this article ends with a statement that minimalism is about more than just things. It is about priorities. It is about time and making time for the things that are important in this life and removing the things that distract from that which is important. It is about removing the urgent in order to save the important.
So although I do not consider myself a minimalist, I am inspired by this thought and idea. No matter how busy life gets, I don’t not want to lose sight of my priorities. My priorities are what get me through those emotionally exhausting days at work and what helps me to see a light at the end of a tunnel when it appears to be a dead end. I want to look back on my life without the regret that I spent too much time on the things that don’t matter in the long run. I want to know that my life was spent on the things of value, the things that fed my soul and made my life full; the important things.