In a busy and demanding world, often times monotonous, many people try to find short moments of entertainment, escape, and relaxation by wasting time with different things. Some people look for cat or cute animal videos, others find funny memes, and some just look for whatever give them small moments of joy with the typical daily routine of life. I will admit it…from time to time, I do enjoy those pet videos that my friends and parishioners sent to me! They truly warm my heart and, many times, help to alleviate some of the administrative stresses away. However, we have also seen people, or ourselves even, spending a lot of time scrolling through their social media feeds to find something meaningful. A lot of time, this style of “time wasting” can become addictive and detrimental to many. People constantly look for that little something “more” to take their mind away from the reality that they do not like, hence missing the opportunities hidden in present moment. It begs the (deeper) question, for me, as to how we look at life, sees and enjoy the present moment in order to sanctify it.
So here is the question that I want to ask! In all honesty, do we simply waste time for the sake of wasting time? If we only want to waste time for the sake of wasting time, scrolling through our media feeds will satisfy us for a small moment, but that will not give us true contentment for we still have to go back to reality afterward. Sometimes those things are dangerous because they can make us feel more negative, depressed, or cynical about what is in front of us. Really! This is not a condemnation or guilt trip… I just want you to think about it. Boredom and the typical monotony of life could be the greatest invitations and opportunities for something greater. There is nothing wrong with being entertained and laugh from time to time! However, if we are stuck in the perpetual boredom and cynicism of life, passing by and going along with whatever is going on without meaning or purpose, then we really to reassess, reflect, and understand the problem deep from within.
There is nothing wrong with relaxation and rest for those things are important and needed. There is nothing wrong with “wasting time” for something that is important and needed instead of being too occupied with busybody things. As with anything in our human life, many things can be good and beneficial in moderation and with prayerful discernment. That is why there is such a thing as to waste time well! It is very important, too, in my humble opinion.
Instead of going through the typical actions of scrolling through whatever to get us entertained or occupied for a short moment, try to find something that is nourishing for our soul. Follow faith-based groups or organizations that can keep us grounded and fed in our own spiritual lives! I follow several Catholic news agencies (in different languages) as they keep me informed with what is going on in the world and the universal Church. I am in several groups that are run by the faithful that share inspirational and thought-provoking (and sometimes funny) messages, pictures, and memes. I try to find new outlets, some ranging from psychological, sociological to faith-based, theological in order to expand my understanding and horizons of what is going on in life and how people are experiencing the world right now.
All those things are good, but they can be agitating and hard to accept at times. They can be appealing and addictive at times. They can make one feel preoccupied and honed into particular things. Again, they are good instruments, but we have to be careful not to make ourselves dependent on them. We have to treat them as instrumental instead as defining matters — means instead of ends in themselves. That is why it is important to interject moments of prayer and reflection throughout the day with the materials and things given to us. I believe a life unfulfilled and lacking meaning often stemmed from our own loss of meanings and lack of time to seek what is transcendental and higher than what is in front of our eyes. We are not like contemplative or cloistered religious who have dedicated their whole lives from the world to pray for us who are living in the world. However, we can all seek God and the transcendence in the midst of our worldly matters. It is perfectly possible for each and every one of us to find small moments to pray the daily Mass readings, to reflect on the news presented to us, and to intercede for people that we encounter on social media or our everyday interactions.
I believe that it is possible for us to pray as we are and where we are. The most basic but foundational understanding of prayer is the lifting up of one’s heart to God. Therefore, I believe that we can all pray where we are and as we are! If you and I see a news that is moving or hard to swallow at the time, pray for those who are involved, that God helps us see what He is trying to pervade to us, or that we are opened to compassion and patience. If we see an inspirational message, take the time to repeat it a few times and end it with a prayer. If we see a person who is teaching us something important, or even one that is challenging at the moment, let us give thank and intercede for them. There are countless ways to seek God and pray throughout our day, we just have to be willing, creative, and intentional on how to lift our hearts up to Him!
We can go through life with the same ol’ attitude and letting ourselves be stuck in our own meaningless monotony or we can take the time to slow down, reflect, understand, and embrace the divine presence of God in each and every moment, person, and encounter. It is perfectly fine to step away from the usual things in order to spend and waste time well with God! We understand who we truly are when we spend the time to listen, understand, and receive from the One who created and loved us into being. Life is meaningful and full of teaching moments if we understand that nothing is coincidental, for everything is providential! We find meaning and can be a source of blessing when we understand that we are not some random objects, instruments, or pieces that make things go along or exist only to do certain tasks, but that we are called and meant for greater things that can only be understood in and through God who is the Creator of our very beings and Lover of our hearts.
When we spend time well with God, we will understand things better and be more at peace with ourselves. The things of this world tend to agitate, make us lose our peace, or just end up being “bland” after a while, that is why we need to go deeper in order to seek the savoriness and depth of beauties from the Lord. Other people will think of us funny because they will never think of prayer and spending time with God as the solution or answer to what is going in their lives. They will think that it is a waste of time and one can do better if he or she just find the right tool, right person, or right method to overcome whatever is going on right now. Many will think that there are better things to do or better solutions to seek than to do something spiritual. Yet, at the end of the day, how many people can truly say that they are happy, content, and at peace with themselves with whatever solution(s) they have found for themselves? All the things that people have medicated or tried for themselves often ended up satisfying them for a short moment (if not causing more problems or are detrimental to them). Perhaps the one solution that many had overlooked, dismissed, or thought to be ineffective is the most effective of all! We can choose to be like leaves being carried by the torrents of this world or finding ourselves anchored in the almighty and loving God.
Every time we pray, we learn to reflect and discern all things through the lens of faith as we try to understand all things through the original purpose, meaning, mission, and vocation given to us by the Creator. We become bored and cynical when we are lost without knowing what is real, true, and higher than the things that are around us! Yet, when we make the time to pray, willing to reflect, know, and discern all things in God, we become more at peace with ourselves and others. Even though the small inconveniences will still bother us from time to time, we can find our peace in Him in the midst of all the usual things that surround us. Our faith teaches us that peace is not simply about having things our way or a lack of violence and war, but the personal, intimate, and deep sense of rest, being loved, and belonging to One who is always with us. As with all good and qualitative things in this world, we need time to bring what is surrounding us to maturity with patience and prayerful discernment. That means that it will take time (while we naturally want things immediately in our own timing) so we all need to learn to patiently trust, prayerfully hope, and lovingly discern all things in accordance to the will of God. This goes back the essential trust and personal knowledge of not how or what needs to be done, but who do we trust and love! Therefore, all these things can only be answered when we spend the time to get to know the Lord through prayer by using all things to lift up our hearts from the mundaneness of this world and learn to waste time well with Him.
Let us not be afraid of the initial learning curves and challenges that make us turn away from the real intimacy of love found in God. Let us find the time to spend it well with God and use all things to lift our hearts up from the cynical monotony of this world by seeking deeper meaning and love in Him who created and loved us into being. Do not be afraid for He is only a prayer away!