Being in my late 20s, I have lots and lots of conversations about resources, specifically, finances. My husband and I have learned—through trial and error(s)—to be good stewards of what we are given. Our definition of “good steward” continues to get more realistic, so it’s pretty much always challenging to do well by what we have. And although I could go on and on about how this vastly applies to money, the dollars and cents in our bank accounts have seemed secondary to our preferred currency of life … time.
It’s so tempting to look at our life with baby No. 1 and another on the way (due in one month—eek!) and think: It makes the most sense to figure out how we can have more income, more space and more future opportunity. And that’s true. It makes a lot of sense to measure growth and the future of our lives off of numbers and the zeros attached to our paychecks. It makes sense to put more eggs in the higher-salary basket because money makes the world go round. Money can be destructive, but it will always buy things, so there’s an element of “safety” attached to it.
We thought that way for most of our marriage (still in its infancy at just three short years). We made tons of sacrifices along the way to add a little here or there, believing there would be a point in which we would arrive, and then we could meet in the middle again and actually build a life of time spent together. We decided we would come back to the “making memories” part of marriage. We would work now and take a holiday later. We trusted that the hours and hours spent apart were validated by our big ideas, hopes and aspirations for a life we really knew nothing about. You can’t predict the future, after all.
You know how that worked out for us? It didn’t. We ended up in a counseling office totally miserable, feeling as if we had no idea who the other person currently was. My husband actually said to me, “I feel like we stopped having fun in our marriage around the six-month mark.” He was totally right. That was the last time we remembered vividly feeling free and optimistic.
We made two commitments at that point, to start giving a portion of our paycheck away, and to start planning for the future based off what gives us more time together, not money. We needed a lesson in generosity of spirit and to remember to not clutch every dollar like it provided our next breath. We agreed to give more to others as well as each other. We agreed to pursue time as our most valuable form of currency, and it has made all the difference. Is life carefree? Definitely not. But in feeling that our time together means something to the other person—something worth protecting, we ironically are fueled more to work harder and achieve our desires for our family.
We recently took a mini vacation to Florida, the first in a very, very long time. Would you believe me if I said we thoroughly enjoyed the drive there and back … with a 1-year-old? We did! I had so much one-on-one time with my one-and-only (plus baby), and it nourished a part of my heart that had been too dry for too long. It’s as if the more time we spent together, the more we realized how much more time we needed together. It was a positive deposit into my love account, a transaction of wealth in its best form. It was crystal clear, like the water surrounding us, that this is what life was about, the actual experience of the day to day. We were calmer, more content, more joyful and genuinely more relaxed on that long stretch of highway. It was so bizarre, but I knew it was just very telling of how little alone time we received.
One thing we got to try while vacationing was paddle boarding. How have I been in the dark about this sport for so long? We had the best time doing something that was very mind/body/spirit affirming, and we are hoping to bring it back with us to our daily life. Our counselor told us the act of doing anything together brings unity, and she was spot on.
Now that we’ve arrived home, we are trying to keep our focus and learn to “need” less while receiving more minutes and hours. That cliché comes to mind of the old man on his death bed claiming he didn’t wish he had had more money or stuff, just more intentional time with the ones he loved.
I’m so thankful to have reconnected with my husband and daughter on that trip. It confirmed a few ideals on life for me … that I’ve been given all that I need, and that worry will rob you of what you already have. There’s no amount of excessive planning I could do to ensure a certain outcome of life for all of my days, so I have to recognize what’s in front of me today, give thanks for it all and invest in what matters most.