Every time I pray with others this inevitably comes up as someone's prayer request.
In busy Singapore this is one thing you can almost infallibly pray for anyone, but students especially--that they'll 'have time for their devotions...to pray...for God...' I think I've went through all the possible ways to phrase this.
It's easy to accept that time is the greatest obstacle in our spiritual growth because it's such an safe, impersonal--because so widespread--admission to make. Yeah. I know my current rhythm of life isn't good for me. But I just don't have the time. I need to reorganize my life--but it takes time... and the vicious cycle continues.
As students; I'm assuming most of you reading this are in the same period of life I'm in, commonly characterized by groaning about assignments, exams, ineffective teachers, and researching the most effective forms of caffeine. Our education looks like Elsa's ice monster except that it's less cute and always there--basically, something we can't resist; we just have to do our best to get on with life while avoiding being pulverized by it. (on an explanatory sidenote, I was rather let down that Kristoff couldn't do much about the ice monster other than run away. Sorry, Frozen fans. Tangled anytime.)
It is so easy to tell ourselves we'll face this after we've passed Current Important Hurdle in Education--because there is a grain of truth in it (but not enough to warrant the amount of complacency we derive from it.) True, understanding your academic schedule/challenges and planning to match is undeniably a useful tip. However it is also a basic common sense tip that is not an all-round solution for our time management problems (sorry to so ruthlessly disillusion you)
Take for example my students. I teach violin to children and over the years as they've been getting older, and their school has become more demanding, they've been telling me every week that they didn't have time to practise. It's true they are in more tuition, special camps, additional classes, and extra programs than I believe is healthy or necessary for children their age (looks like my kids, if I ever have any, will be losers by Singapore definition) but on the other hand...well, I do my best to hide my wry smile and try to help them find a slot of time they can consistently use as practice time.
'But I don't have time!' they chorus like little birds, without even knowing that they're all telling me the same thing and using even the same words.
Ciam lor. (a Cantonese expression of dismay) Poor babies. If seven and eight year olds are saying they have no choice, they have no time, what is their life going to be like as they get older and--ah, how can they imagine it?--busier?
Think about it. We are never going to stop having this struggle of having enough time. Forget about finishing education, or retirement, or emigrating to a less stressful country. Forget about blaming school institutions or the education system or even unreasonable teachers (not that I absolve any from blame, however.) Life by nature requires us to make choices about how we spend it. Perhaps our situations and environments make it harder to choose, or they limit our choices. But we still have the ability to choose.
My sister and I were talking about this once and she made an insightful remark--if you don't take control of your life, your life will take control of you. If we live only to deal with whatever most urgent thing of the moment currently clamouring for our attention, we are basically putting ourselves at the beck and call of a world only too happy to seize control of us and our time.
Being a student may be the stage of life where the struggle of time management is most hyped up. But if you realize that time management continues to be equally a challenge--in different ways and for different reasons--throughout other stages of life, it becomes a much more significant problem we need to deal with even more. In this big-picture perspective, your current time management struggles as a student are no more than prelims for time management struggles as a parent--employee--and the list goes on.
Your spiritual growth and your relationship with God, just as your growth as a person and your relationships with people, are heavily dependent on how well you manage to deal with time management. We have to live with purpose and awareness. To actively work at redeeming the time which our situations otherwise suck so effortlessly from us. For some, it may be as subtle as a few small choices--changing a few lifestyle habits--becoming more conscious of time, the lack of or the excess of, which we give to different things. For others, it's a head-on fight.
But the choice is always ours.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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