“Let the measure of time be spiritual, not mechanical.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
We all operate, to a great extent, upon the concept of time. Everything we do seems to be guided by it. When we were young and beginning school, we found out that time could be our friend as we had so many minutes to play outside at recess. We found that time could also be an enemy as we only had so many minutes to take a quiz or test.
Time regulating us and limiting us has been an integral part of our lives. One of the reasons so many people enjoy going away on vacation is because they throw time out the window while they are gone. They don’t keep an eye on their watches and they don’t have any deadlines. They eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. They live on a schedule that is not dictated by time.
While we like the idea of not being controlled by time, we often shackle ourselves to it and expect the same of others as well. This, I believe, is most seen when it comes to death and grief. People often send signals to others when they are “grieving too long.” They think that there is a set time for grief and if someone doesn’t get over the loss of a loved one within that set time, something is seriously wrong.
Yes. Something IS seriously wrong. However, it is not the amount of time that a person is taking grieving. What is wrong is with the person who expects a loved one or friend to grieve on some imposed schedule. As life with someone is very personal, so is death and grief. We have no right to demand that someone “be better” after a certain amount of time.
As we impose “acceptable times” to those who grieve, we do with other things as well. How many times have we said or heard someone claim that a child is behind in certain areas? While doctors and other professionals do have certain landmarks that they believe children should meet by certain ages, we know that everyone develops differently and we have to allow the time for that person to develop.
We often impose deadlines on spiritual living as well. Those deadlines are most often imposed upon ourselves. We say that we should have a certain type of prayer life by such and such a time or that we should be more trusting, kind, merciful, or whatever by a certain deadline. Growing in the faith is a personal thing and there is no deadline.
God is not looking for us to complete ourselves and our goals by such and such a date. God’s simply looking for continued improvement. Give yourself a break and be patient with the evolution of your spiritual life.
FAITH ACTION: Give everything — and everyone — the time needed in order to achieve the best results.