Jocelyn R. Plett: Breathing Room

by Jocelyn R. Plett

The other day on social media I posted in amazement at all the things I was able to accomplish in a day. Unsurprisingly, our friends in Madagascar responded, “Could not do all that in Tana. Traffic would have tripled the time.”

Indeed! Over the years living in Tana, the frustration of repeatedly failing to accomplish my “to do” list finally taught me to release it and focus on “merely” accomplishing one thing a day.

My blogging over the time we lived in Madagascar documents a trend in our observations of life in Canada during our furloughs: since life is much easier and “efficient,” people can do many things in a day and therefore they think they should do them. This creates a society of very busy people.

The unfortunate irony of these observations is that now that we live in Canada as “normal” people, not just visitors, we find ourselves in this same vise: the ability to do many things because our former inhibitors of traffic, cultural differences, language barriers, and infrastructure are no longer there. In Canada we are no longer forced to live a slow lifestyle. The relief in having this freedom is immense, but it comes at a price: being busier than we have ever been as a family.

Sandra Stanley’s study “Breathing Room” highlights areas of life where North Americans have shown they need to work hard at creating increased margin: time, finances, and relationships. (Andy Stanley’s series “Guardrails” is a similar study geared for men. Josh highly recommends it.) It was a well-timed reminder of common areas where we all need to practice discipline.

Sandra points out that 100 years ago “there were limited options for how people spent their time. Most days, they stayed within a one-mile radius of home. When it got dark, everyone went to bed. Instead of struggling to figure out how to limit what they did with their time, they struggled to figure out what to do with their time. Today we have endless options, which is simultaneously wonderful and terrible…It’s great having choices, but filling our days with all the things we can do crowds out time for the things we’re called to do” (53).

Jocelyn R. Plett

Putting up guardrails for my time is proving to be hard work. I find that it requires some serious pride (and fear) slaying within my heart as I make tough decisions. I want to be sure my kids are getting all the chances other kids have to experience the things that are available for them. I want to be involved in my church, as well as connecting with friends, family, and networking for my business.

The bottom line, however, is “My time is limited, so I must limit what I do with my time.” How, exactly, do I do that? I’m realizing anew that it starts with being attentive to the Word and the Spirit within me, Who will guide and direct my path if I am willing to listen and obey.

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