|While growing up, I continually heard “you don’t get a do-over.” My mother used this phrase in relation to choices. She tried to teach her children that you can change your direction for the future, but you cannot turn back time or re-do the past; there is a big difference.
As a teenager, I’d love to say that I took her words to heart, but I did not understand the apparent riddle she warned despite my genuine efforts to listen. However, later in life the phrase gained meaning as I danced the line of flesh and Spirit, trying to live in the world but attempting to make choices that were not of it. I failed miserably in this battle, and quickly the weight of those words was realized in my life.
The phrase hit home again, in a whole new manner, when I got married and had a child. It was as if those two events illuminated my many patterns and behaviors that were not beneficial, yet culturally acceptable, for filling my time. With each life event, the perspective in my mother’s words grew stronger until it smacked me right between the eyes with the birth of my daughter. Life suddenly carried a whole new significance.
We live in a culture that values work; in fact, work oftentimes gives us our primary status, our feeling of purpose, our motivation. We also live in a society where we are addicted to movement, movement of any kind. We’ve become so disillusioned by the activity of movement that we’ve gone so far as to think that any movement equals productivity.
Driven by these misguided truths, along with our need to feel worth and value, most of us have filled our time with excessive work and/or constant movement, which allows us to subconsciously define that we are worthy and have value.
If our skewed perception on work and movement isn’t enough, we are living in a culture that has made the concept of decision making a casual engagement. With an individually relevant, ever changing line of right and wrong, it’s hard to put weight where it is due. The magnitude of making choices does not seem to hold worth. Therefore, much of our time seems to be spent in ways that, at the end of life, we will probably regret.
This perspective may seem like a backdoor, cynical view to our human intrinsic motivations (honestly it feels that way to me too), but how else can you describe the vicious cycle that we have fallen into? In our world of TiVo, we record, play, pause, rewind and replay whatever we want, whenever we want. We have complete control. It is hard for us to grasp that we can’t actually do that with the real time we live out on a day-to-day basis.
With endless choices and endless options at our fingertips, we have become entitled and so often treat life as if we have an endless bank of minutes. The notion of a finite period is illusive. The notion of a finite anything is almost extinct; therefore, we are not respecters of time. It is almost as if we think life is limitless, and we are indestructible.
Caught up in my own world, my work, my movement, my choices, my serving others, my introspection and my time—having a child changed everything. I do not get time back with her. When a day is done, it’s gone, not banked in credit to be used later … gone.
This reality has cut me to the core. I do not get a do-over with the level of engagement I have, the love I demonstrate, the memories made or the lessons I teach her. We don’t get to rewind the clock and spend lost time with loved ones or relive the minutes God orchestrated for us to sit down and actually care about how someone is doing.
We can change our behavior for the future, but we cannot turn back time. In Psalm 90:12, God instructs us to number our days, to gain a heart of wisdom. May we recognize and acknowledge that every day is fragile and should be cherished, for we will be held accountable to our Almighty for how our time was used on this earth.
Alisha Cora Soule is director of development at New Life Family Services.