Many people think marriage and childrearing are a waste of time. What if they are right? If you think about it, love isn’t really practical. In fact, it’s absurd, over the top. Who has time for patience? Do you think a marriage could succeed based on justice? Based on each person getting what they are owed? What’s the alternative? Something quite scary because in embracing that fearful outcome, you might not get what you deserve. And that is the necessary risk of love.
If you focus on yourself, you cannot make another person happy. If you love someone, you commit to forgive, to go above and beyond, to enjoy the time it takes to lose yourself in celebrating them. I recognize the lameness of the moments I did not give the time of day to loved ones and I’m thrilled when I receive their undeserved attention. Time wasted on loved ones holds meaning because its not for my reward but their elevation. It requires us to give ourselves expressly to not yield a profit.
True love is obsessed with being immensely impractical. It asks, “How would you like to spend my time?”
Not using every moment efficiently offends contemporary wisdom because we live in the wake of the Enlightenment, which darkened the light of life and closed down our imaginations. The ideas of its thinkers divorced faith from reason and experience from truth. Man became God. Science became Religion. Reason alone became Salvation. Where does the soul fit in this enlightened picture? How could one admire the great act of love – dying for another – under the scrutiny of pure reason? Love is unreasonable.
Seeing the other as worth my time is a repudiation of time itself. The greatest gift I can give another person is my time with them, instead of worshipping efficiency. That means giving God time, is an even greater gift, maybe the only gift I can possibly give He Who created time. Christmas is an opportunity to give (back to) God the gift of oneself because God first gave man the Gift of Himself. We cannot repay but we can display our love and gratitude. And loving others for God’s sake is part of our “Thank You” to Him.
Jesus empowered time by entering into it. He transformed time by taking his time – first he was a helpless baby, then a simple carpenter. Thirty-three years later, to the frustration of the Enlightenment thinkers, Jesus sanctified time.
You and I praise God best when we “waste time” with Him. When our prayers don’t merely consist of, “Please give me. Please help me,” but also, “I love you. I’m here to waste time with you.”
When you rush out of the Church, you run out of that timeless place back into a ticking clock. This Christmas season, how can you enter into the rest of Christ and embrace the gift of impractical love?