Years ago, I was arrested by a book title while browsing an author’s table at a church convention. I read the book description and immediately knew I had to read the book. After the purchase, I immediately began my trek of ‘Breaking the Spirit of Average: Seven Keys of Turning Your Awesome into Average’ as written by Joseph B. Washington.
Divided into chapters called turn keys, the author provides instruction on seven principles that can lead to experiencing a more satisfying, successful life. Using the letters in the word average, he gave vivid instruction on how readers could apply said principles into their ordinary lives in the hopes of pursuing personal advancement. It was when I got to the letter V that I realized this book was not merely informative, but it became a personal challenge. V dared readers, from beginners to bibliophiles, to consider the pricelessness of valuing your time! Value my time. Value my time? Value my time!
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘Time is the most precious gift in our possession, for it is the most irrevocable’. This is what makes it so disturbing to look back upon the time which we have lost. Time lost is time wasted and it was while reading this book that I realized how I had mishandled this precious gift.
There have been times in my life when I wasted time on people. As a pastor, I have learned being a spiritual leader does not make me the ultimate authority in a person’s life. I spent too much time in my early years trying to lead God’s sheep as if they were my own. I wanted them to line up perfectly while I was leading imperfectly. I spent too much time chasing wandering sheep that only left the pin in order to be chased as satisfaction of their need to belong to a group versus belonging to God. Chasing them left the pin open for wolves to sneak into the fold and either mask themselves as sheep or eat sheep that were otherwise asleep. Whichever the case, I made mistakes by not taking the time to properly sit at the feet of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep’s in order to receive valuable instruction that would have saved me valuable time. When I look back now, a decade later, some reflections make me cringe. I praise God for grace and I thank Him for mercy. Ignorance is not blissed but it may be blessed when given to the Master Teacher!
There were times in my life when I wasted time on places. Unfortunately I set up altars where I had been previously wounded and unconsciously may have built a shrine to remind me of the pain. Maybe you can understand if I recall the pain of divorce. It took me decades to recover from the place of rejection and desertion that I felt during those years. I would not allow anyone to get close to my heart for years…..alright, decades! I was never to be divorced. I had fully complied with my pastor’s five point plan for a successful Christian life: 1) Give your live to God; 2) Get a good education; 3) Get a good job; 4) Get married; and finally 5) have children. When I tell you I purposed to work that plan with all that is within me and I did!
Well, that plan did not prepare me for burying my first born and the subsequent miscarriages that followed. I did not realize that I would want to continue my military career but my husband would not, forcing me to reluctantly submit as expected from a ‘good Christian wife’ would. Yep, I placed a huge banner over my heart that read ‘Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’. I visited that place every time a man wanted to be ‘friends’ or asked me out on a date for years…..ok, again decades! (long sigh)
And of course there were times in my life when I wasted time on things. Things, you know the stuff that we felt was important in our twenties and thirties, and that now that I am considered to be middle aged doesn’t mean a thing to me. There were things that I thought I could not live without back then and for the life of me I cannot remember what they are today. I remember buying 10, 15, 20 pairs of shoes at a time. I could afford them and I loved them. They made me feel a certain way. The higher the heel the better they felt. I loved the look of them and the smell of them. I loved to take them out of their purchased boxes and put them in a clear box so that I could easily identify them. I loved to polish them (Marine Corps training) and to see them shine when I glared down. I used this example, not as a bragging point, but with all of the humility I can muster. It was not until years later that I realized during those shoe seasons, I was actually depressed.
Time! Time! Time! Time waits for no man and no man should expect it too. The cost of time is far too expensive and to use it loosely will be too high of a price to pay. Nowadays, I spend my time with people I enjoy. People like me who understand their frailties and their strengths. People who are flawed yet favored. The altar I built around my heart was destroyed nearly a decade ago when I met he with whom I am now married. It was during our courtship that I realized the spirit of average was not only broken (broke things may be repaired), but God had destroyed average in my life. The things that matter most to me now, are the things that matter to God! Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good shoe, but I spend more time polishing my soul that I do my pumps. Today I praise God for not merely breaking, but destroying the spirit of average in my life! Read the book, you may get your own revelation.