April 9: The Thing about "Free" Time

It's nap time in the Robert's house, and all is quiet. A pile of unfolded laundry stares at me from the floor, and the dishes in the kitchen sink avert my eyes each time I go for another cup of coffee… So the question presents itself: now that I have a moment alone, some "free time," what should I do with it??

My first and overwhelming response is to plug into some mindless entertainment on Hulu, catching up on the latest episodes of this or that. I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with "unplugging," whether it be Facebook or Hulu or Instagram or Netflix {we don't have cable, but nonetheless TV is still an issue for me}. I sit down for "just a little bit" or to "take a small break" or think "I might as well watch something while I eat lunch" or "I'll just watch this one thing and then I'll…" and before I know it, the afternoon is gone. Mindless entertainment is like a drug of choice--when I'm plugged in, I don't have to think or feel or face reality. But, like a drug, it steals my time, joy, and productivity.

The thing about "free" time is that it's not really free. There's always a cost incurred with it's use, for better or worse. A lot of the time, when my afternoon free time comes around, I do squander it in front of the computer screen. Now, not all of that is bad. I managed to get my other blog up and running again with a few posts this week and I've listened to podcasts and researched, but in all honesty the rest of that time was sucked into the vortex of social media and mind-numbing television. That's time that was completely unproductive and that I'll never get back.

And there's a cost with that:

  • All the things I could've read and learned from a good book, I didn't. 
  • The laundry I could've folded and put away, I didn't. Now I will have to dig through the entire pile, again, in order to find clean socks for everyone in the morning. 
  • The dinner I could've prepped, I didn't. Now it will have to be done amidst the flurry of homework and after-school commotion and I will inevitably turn into a stress monster due to the sheer volume of attention everyone needs from me at the same. exact. time. While dinner is burning on the stove. And we will probably be late to church. Again.

So as the choice sits before me this afternoon, it comes down to two things: I can either choose myself and sit like a lump on the couch and check out for the next hour, or I can choose LOVE. Love, my friends, folds and puts away the laundry now, even if she doesn't want to, so that when the kids come home from school she's available to help with homework and get dinner ready. It will also make the morning easier tomorrow if the kids can open their dresser drawers to clean and organized clothes. Love loads and runs the dishwasher so that there are clean plates for dinner. Love tidies up the house so that when her husband comes home after being gone for an incredibly long day, on his birthday, he walks into a clean house and isn't further stressed out.

Love is an action. 

Love anticipates needs, love prepares, love makes the path smooth and lowers the level of stress. Love lays down her very self--her wants, her desires, her life--for others, just like Jesus did for us.

But you also need to love yourself, so once Love has taken care of the others, she needs to take care of herself so she has more to give tomorrow! Or maybe Love needs to take care of herself now, first, so that she has something to offer. And when you do take care of yourself, choose things that give life, not detract from it.

What inspires and motivates you? 

What fills your tank?

An encouraging book, a walk outside in the beauty of nature, some quiet time with the Lord, a cup of coffee with a good friend, a hobby, a good meal? Those are just a few to get you started!

Choose LOVE with me today, friends! Your families need you, and the Lord has a good work for you to do. Don't squander that precious free time! And on that note, I have a load of laundry waiting for me. ;)

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6