by Stephanie Abney
Today is my only sister’s birthday. It is also my grandson’s birthday. They are decades apart but it has made me think about how birthdays come and birthdays go. What have we done with all the days in between our own birthdays?
Sunday is the birthday of one of my dear friends (Margaret) but with our busy “Day of Rest” in the LDS culture; at least with our differing Sunday block schedules, it is often difficult to get together as an extended family or as a group of friends on a Sunday. And so today, one of Margaret’s daughters has set up a schedule of birthday visits unbeknownst to her. Brittany privately emailed all of her mom’s local friends and asked them to sign up for 30 minute blocks throughout the entire day to stop by and visit Margaret to celebrate her birthday. I’m curious to find out how Brittany made plans to keep her mom home as Margaret works outside of the home. (I’m guessing she made some sort of prearrangement with her mom’s boss) and the friends start coming first thing in the morning so Margaret will be up and ready for the day but she’s never going to make it to work. :)
Margaret and I are both busy moms and grandmas. We seldom find time to just visit anymore. Usually, a quick exchange at church and an occasional phone call have to suffice. However, when one or the other of us is really needed, we are there. When BJ had leukemia, Margaret made sure to stop by as often as she could and when he passed away, she was there helping non-stop, giving comfort, cleaning, even taking cherished pictures the day of the funeral. When her 2-year-old grandson died unexpectedly, we went right over to her house to be with them and offer comfort. We have also been to temple weddings of each others’ children, been over to hear mission calls read and attended Eagle Courts of Honor. We are the kind of friends who know we love each other even when we never seem to be able to get together during a normal week or even month (or two or three).
Today, I am going to have 30 minutes of my friend’s undivided attention. We can catch up on each other’s lives, share memories, tell funny grandchildren stories, laugh, hug, cry… whatever. I have decided that what Brittany has given her mother is the gift of time. Could there possibly be a better gift? And one that can be shared with so many?
I recall reading a book by Linda Eyre when I was a young mom and one year her husband gave her “Wednesdays for a year” for her birthday. He was able to arrange his schedule to be home on Wednesdays and he took full charge of the children and the house all day Wednesday. She was free to write, soak in the tub, leave the house and go visiting, to the movies, to the library, to the temple, whatever her heart desired. It was a remarkable, restorative gift.
I’m thinking Heavenly Father has also given us the gift of time. When we left his presence in the pre-existence, we were given an allotted amount of time to fulfill our earthly mission. We don’t always know exactly what that mission is (as I am sure we have many “missions” and they grow and change as our life and our service does the same) and we certainly don’t know how much time He has given us, but it is a splendid gift. Sadly, I have too many regrets on how I have squandered my time on unimportant things, usually justifying it as needed “downtime.” And we do all need some downtime, but after having recently taken Stephen R. Covey’s course on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I’ve been reflecting on how I use my time more than usual. I see the need for some course corrections, to be sure. I also try not to be too hard on myself as that can be counterproductive. However, the simplest change here and there, over time, can achieve the grandest results. We are taught “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!”
My hope for myself and all those reading this is that we can make even a few productive changes that will allow us to make better use of and thus have far better results with that most precious gift, the gift of time.