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The value of wasting time

It was 6am and the baby was awake. I brought her downstairs, tiptoeing as to not wake up any of the other kids. I made coffee and sat by the fireplace, some flames still flickering from the night before. It was quiet and peaceful and I was looking forward to getting some prayer time in before the house exploded in noise. I got about 2 minutes in when the toddler came wobbling into the living room. I pulled her up on my lap and said good morning, embracing her smallness and sweetness. The baby got jealous and started crying. The noise woke up the other three kids who quickly came down, all before 7am, ready to start the day. I was still determined to get some prayer time in and was hopeful as they all sat at my feet, playing semi-quietly together. It was one of those beautiful moments you want to just hang on to forever. I sat in this gratitude, thanking God for these blessings. I then turned my attention back to my morning prayers. I didn’t get very far when their stillness turned to chaos and I had to accept that what I had planned wasn’t going to happen.

I recalled a quote I read earlier in the week by St. Therese of Lisieux – “I choose to be interrupted.” With 5 little kids at home, I’m interrupted a lot. I wish I could say I gracefully accept these interruptions like St. Therese, but unfortunately this is still a work in progress. This morning though, after this quote came to mind, I was able to see the interruption for what it was – an invitation to be present with my kids. Again, I wish I could say I readily accepted the invitation and got down on the floor and played with them, but my stubborn will got in the way. The nagging thought was there that not only have I already wasted part of my morning getting nothing done, but if I get down on the floor, I’ll certainly be wasting more time; I might as well forget about that quiet prayer time. And that’s when a second quote hit me.

“Waste time with your children so that they can realize that love is always free” – Pope Francis. What does it mean to “waste time”? It means accepting the interruption as an invitation to be present. It means acknowledging that sometimes God is pointing us in another direction. It means having an openness to laying down YOUR will. It means seemingly doing nothing, but giving so much. And when we can we do these things, when we “waste time” with our kids, it shows them that “love is always free”. Love isn’t conditional. Love isn’t the thing that happens after I get done doing what I want. It isn’t the thing that can happen if I have any time or energy left over at the end of the day. It isn’t a reward for your kids giving you “5 more minutes”. Love is FREE. It is unconditional. It is wasting time with your kids because ultimately, what else matters than them knowing this kind of love?

So how does all of this fit in with a marriage blog? Because the same concept can be applied to your marriage. Accept the interruptions from your spouse and waste time with them. When they get home from work, step aside from the stove for a minute to greet them at the door with a hug and a kiss. When they tell you they’ve had a bad day, put aside the task you’re working on and offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. When the weekend comes around, don’t put so much focus on your individual “to-do” lists. Tackle your lists together, or better yet, put the list in a drawer and go for a walk together. Show one another that your love is free and unconditional and that the most important thing in that moment is them feeling that love. Accept the interruptions to waste time with your family this weekend and feel the joy that this can bring. Authentically, Joey

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