Yesterday I preached a sermon on the goodness and value of time. You can check it out here. A friend shared this article last year and it's been sitting with me ever since. I've also been reading through Seneca's The Shortness of Life alongside the book of Ecclesiastes with some friends. All of that to say, I've been thinking about life lately. The kind of life that I want and how I want to spend what limited time I have.
If you want the abbreviated version of my sermon, here it is:
Life is too short to waste it on bitterness from the past or worry about the future. The past and future continually fight to take our present away from us.
To be clear, I am not a doctor or trained to speak into the areas of trauma or clinical anxiety and not speaking about that. I'm only speaking from the wisdom of the Stoics, the Scriptures, and my own experience.
When we give into anger or bitterness and let it consume our thought life, we are paying with our present. We are missing out on what currently is because we can't get over the past. The same applies to the future, something which we have little control of. Jesus said it like this, "Who can add an hour to your life by worrying? Focus on today and its challenges."
Along with bitterness towards the past or worry about the future, a few other things can rob us of our time. Filling our schedule until it's overflowing is one of them. "The busy life is a brief one," writes Seneca. That might seem counterintuitive. You might think because we have such little time that we'd want to cram as much as we can into it. The problem is that when our schedule gets so busy that we are constantly jumping from one thing to the next, we are always thinking about the next thing and never fully present to the moment we're in.
Another thing that robs us of our time is a lack of purpose and vision for our life. "Where there is no vision, the people wander around," writes Solomon. "Those who choose to have no real purpose in life are ever rootless and dissatisfied, tossed by their aimlessness into ever-changing situations," writes Seneca.
Know what you want to be about. Know who you want to do life with. Pursue those things with rigorous intentionality. Learn to grieve the past and then move on from it. Plan as much as you can for the future, but don't be consumed with worry about it. Enjoy the moments of life as they come.