There is a constant and relentless tension that hangs over each and every one of us mamas.
It is a deep yearning to spend the time we have with our children well, coupled with an immense fear that we will squander these days. A deep dread that we will look back when they are grown and gone, and we will grieve over time given to worthless pursuits; days lost to busyness, hours traded for empty distractions, and moments left unnoticed to be buried under time’s passing.
This tension grates against our souls every single day. As we wake in the morning we feel it pressing, how will we spend this day worthwhile? What is its fullest potential?
And as we lay our little ones down at night, kissing soft cheeks and whispering prayers, the tension pulls at our shoulders and aches in our hearts. Did we spend this day well? Will it be remembered?
Ephesians 5:15-16 urges us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days our evil.”
Another version uses even stronger language. “Redeem the time.”
Yet this is the question that has baffled me for years:
How do we redeem something that hasn’t been lost yet?
I have always assumed that “Redeem” meant to bring something back. To rescue and restore. But how do we recapture days that are still future?
As mamas gifted the task of raising these little ones, this is exactly our calling. Moms are meant to redeem the time.
Time is perhaps our most valuable asset, more so than money. Yet it was money that helped me to understand this concept of redeeming time. Before my husband and I married, we took a budgeting course created by financial expert Dave Ramsey. Ramsey explained that each dollar to our name needs to be given a job before it is spent, or else it will be wasted on frivolous things.
This is how I am beginning to see my days. I must assign to them a job before they pass, lest they slip through the cracks to never be remembered.
This is because time left to its own devices, without an intentional spending plan, is time prone to be wasted.
God knew that without some direction and purpose, we would fritter away our days on things much lesser than what He created us for. Redeem the time, “because the days are evil.”
This week my family decided to redeem the time by spending ten hours of it in the car together. As we drove west from our home in Missouri towards the foothills of Colorado, hope rose within my soul with every passing mile.
At each rest stop my boys would ask, “Are we at the mountains yet?” My middle guy, two years old, scuttled up a mound of dirt 3 feet tall in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas. “A mountain, Mommy!” He was in for a big surprise when we finally crested a hill of the highway hours later to catch our first glimpse of the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
I won’t deny that traveling with young children is stressful. With naps not had and schedules gone awry, our boys have at times been emotional catastrophes this week. And with the baby not quite sleeping through the night, my husband and I have had ample opportunity to try out all the local coffee shops out of pure necessity. Traveling with little kids can seem as jagged and harsh as those rocky mountains themselves.
Yet we know all too well that if we fail to make memories now, then in twenty years looking back, we won’t remember. Our time raising these boys will be a blur.
And I absolutely refuse to look back and see nothing but haze.
Whether on vacation or at home, we are learning how to dog-ear time’s passing with life lived in such a way that the clock’s ticking will never erase it.
We redeem time by restoring its potential for beauty.
We see it when we make the effort to perforate the passing hours with intentional choices. Last night it happened with a simple invitation.
After an exhausting day that began well before the sun began rising and ran hard until 7pm, my husband and I sat in front of a movie with our boys. I scrolled through Facebook on my phone. Outside, the Colorado sunset beckoned.
I set down my phone and invited our two year old to go outside and sit on the porch swing with me. Without a hint of hesitation, he abandoned the television and ran straight to the door in his diaper bottom. Not five minutes later my husband and our four year old followed.
And there we sat for an hour, my husband and I on that porch swing, watching our boys run races around the front yard as streaks of white clouds transformed into brilliant hues of purple and orange. This is how time is redeemed. With porch swinging and truth speaking and adventure seeking. On wooded trails and green grass spaces and time spent just sitting next to each other. With coffee sipping and ice cream licking and distraction resisting.
And by choosing to pursue all of these things before the clock ticks away all opportunity to do so.
Time is rescued from waste when we reroute it into intentional territory, when we weigh down a moment with complete enamor and appreciation. When we finally tell time how we are going to spend it, instead of allowing it to spend us.
This is how we beat time. How we cheat it. How we expand it. How we amplify it. How we learn to respect its passing instead of grieving it. This is how we redeem the days before they are ever spent.