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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Time for What Matters

jenmichel@me.com

Time is like a tube of toothpaste. Just when you think you’ve used it all up, you squeeze a little harder, a little longer, and you find just enough to make it past your morning breath. You have time for what matters to you.

I have time for what matters to me.

Writing has mattered to me these last nine months, and I’ve squeezed my toothpaste of time hard, gaining one hour out of my day to write what you’ve been reading here. And because I’ve chosen this as a priority, there are many other things that have mattered less, which I’ve willingly given myself the permission to neglect.

I’m reminded of this choice the morning I return from coffee with a friend at her house, a house she and her husband have newly renovated, and which is, of course, spectacularly. Perfect. Decorator eye candy. A Canadian House and Home future feature. I’d almost hoped I didn’t have to leave after we’d spent the morning sitting in her rattan patio furniture by her pool eating lemon drizzle cake and sipping coffee. But of course we had our day to get on with, and she gently showed me to the door through her (also spectacular!) mudroom. (Who knew mudrooms could be so beautiful?)

I came back home, parked in the garage, and navigated the maze of bikes and scooters, baseball bats and helmets that is our back porch. Throwing open the metal storm door (a vintage piece?), I climbed three stairs and saw the sight of my kitchen counters. The French press in pieces, the compost bin yawning beside the sink, breakfast crumbs underfoot. And stepping further into the small sitting room where I write, I see my desk, heaped with books, pens, school papers, coffee mugs, batteries, someone’s flashlight, a hair clip.

They scream at me, “You’re a mess.”

In less than one hour a day, I could have my house June Cleaver clean. And some days, I wish I did just that. I wish that when the kids were at school, I could just close this laptop and find the missing pieces to our Connect Four game. I’d rather not continue single-handedly funding the Toronto Public Library system because I can’t seem to keep track of books and receipts. And me, too, I’d like to wake up to kitchen counters wiped immaculately clean with every toy neatly sorted back in its place. (Tell me, if you will. How do ping pong paddles end up on top of the microwave, anyways?)

But there is writing and there is parenting. And I am a friend and daughter, and Djokovic is playing in the French Open. I want to watch it with my husband.

I have time for what matters to me.

Not all things. Not for meeting expectations. Not for proving myself. Not for living into all the imaginary (and impossible) standards of general put-togetherness. But I have the time I meet to meet the responsibilities God has given me. I believe in that sufficiency, trust in my good Father that He knows the dust of this frame. I believe that He multiplies fish and loaves, even time committed into His hands. I lean. I trust. I listen. I pray, and I work.

Since the practice of virtue and the observance of the commandments form part of prayer, those who pray as well as work at the tasks they have to do, and combine their prayer with suitable activity, will be “praying always.” This is the only way in which it is possible never to stop praying.

Origen of Alexandria

* * * * *

When you face interruptions today and sense time slipping like sand through your fingers. . .

“Lord, make me sensitive to your interruptions. May I not be rigid in my schedule and inflexible to what you would insert in my time. But please help me to be disciplined to do what is important to do and not to turn easily aside.” Edith Schaeffer, The Life of Prayer

When you simply need more willingness to receive whatever God chooses to give to you today. . .

“Lord,

I am willing to receive what you give,

Release what you take,

Lack what you withhold,

Do what you require,

And be who you desire.”

Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook