Does anxiety characterize your relationship with time? Author Jen Pollock Michel talks with Amy Julia Becker about our posture towards time and her new book In Good Time, and she offers gentle reflections on learning new habits of being and of receiving the lives we have been given.
“Jen Pollock Michel is a writer, speaker, coach, and podcast host. She is the author of five books. Her fifth book, In Good Time, released December 13, 2022. She holds a B.A. in French from Wheaton College, an M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University, and is working to complete an M.F.A from Seattle Pacific University. After eleven years of living in Toronto, Jen now lives in Cincinnati with her husband and her two youngest children. You can follow Jen on Twitter and Instagram @jenpmichel, subscribe to her Monday letters at www.jenpollockmichel.com, and listen to episodes of the Englewood Review of Books podcast.”
On the Podcast:
- New book: In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace
- Spiritual Timekeeping in a New Year with James K. A. Smith
- The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
- Becoming Friends of Time by John Swinton
- Three Mile an Hour God by Kosuke Koyama
- We Crashed series
- Luke 10:38-42
- Psalm 90
“I think it’s very easy to say [that] to be productive is to be virtuous in a particular kind of way.”
“Sickness…reminds us of the contingency of our lives, these ways that we don’t get to decide everything.”
“Time isn’t mine to manage; time is mine to receive.”
“I do think there’s this choosing that we are doing as Christians because God has given us real responsibility, real freedom, and the dignity of that. But ultimately I receive everything I have as a gift.”
“One thing that’s particularly frustrating about that in a technological age is that we cannot stand an unused minute. Anytime the motion is stilled and we’re asked to wait, we’re automatically in a posture of, ‘This is frustrating. I’m irritated; my time is being wasted.’…Let’s think about all the things that God does in and through and for his people as we actually are put in a position of waiting.”
“I’m really choosing to believe that in a season of waiting things are happening, my roots are going down deep.”
“Choosing is one of the most important spiritual practices right now because we live in a world of unending choice…how can I faithfully live in response to [God’s] voice, which calls me into…this work of being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a writer, a friend, a neighbor, a citizen?”
“Time anxiety is going to be with us in the modern world because the conditions of time are continually accelerating, but are there other choices that we have to make?”
“[Community] is one of the ways in which we step away from the urgency of having to make and manage time and script our lives…it doesn’t necessarily feel like productive time, but it’s a way that we become more human.”
“A rule of life is just a practice to help us think about—how do we pattern our lives in faithful response to God’s voice?”
Season 6 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my latest book, To Be Made Well, which you can order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day on my website, and a video with closed captions will be available on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Time anxiety is gonna be with us in the modern world because the conditions of time are continually accelerating. But are there other choices that we have to make? You know, ways in which we can say, I could do less because I don’t maybe have to prove myself as much. Or maybe I could choose to walk with a three Mile an hour. God, you know, maybe I can take up relationships with people who move more slowly through time and that actually could be a gift that I could receive. I think community is a really huge part of this. I have to say that one of the ways in which we step away from the urgency of having to kind of make and manage time and script our lives is where we just make room for other people.
Because sometimes that doesn’t necessarily feel like productive time, but it’s a way that we sort of become more human.
Amy Julia (56s):
Hi, Friends, I’m Amy. Julia Becker and This is Love is Stronger Than Fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. Happy New Year. Today, my Guest, Jen Pollock. Michelle and I are going to talk about time. This is more conversation about time and our posture towards time, on how we can receive the time we are given. For those of you who listen to the last episode with Jamie Smith, these two conversations make a great pair for all of us who are entering into this new year and seeking to live Faithfully within the time that we are given. I’m really grateful for Jen for her New book, In Good Time, and for her thoughts here today.
Amy Julia (1m 40s):
Well, I am delighted to be sitting here with my friend and colleague, Jen Pollock Michel. Jen, welcome.
Jen (1m 47s):
Thank you Amy Julia. I’m really looking forward to this.
Amy Julia (1m 50s):
Well, I am really excited about this because you have a New book that just came out. In Good, Time eight, Habits for Reimagining, Productivity, Resisting, Hurry, and Practicing Peace. So, congratulations, first of all. Thank you. It’s awesome. I love your book and it seems really fitting to be talking with you about this book at the beginning of 2023 because this is the time of year when people really start thinking about making resolutions and changing habits. And I’m curious, just as a way of kind of introduction to you and to the book, have you been a resolution maker? Like is that a part of your practice? Has it ever been, and how do you think about New Year’s resolutions now, kind of in light of writing this book?
Jen (2m 35s):
I think I’ve been an erratic maker of New Year’s resolutions. You know, some years probably. I feel like that wind of resolution catches my sails and launches me into a new year. I would say that I, I think as a teacher and also as the mother of young children, I often think about August and September with a little bit more resolution than January. So I think, think that that’s the season of year where I definitely set intentions. I would, I would call probably my practice a little bit more like setting intentions rather than resolutions. And maybe that means that I fail to be more practical because I feel like resolutions in some way can be really great.
Jen (3m 20s):
Some, because they can be very specific. I want to, you know, run every day of the year, or I want to train for a marathon, or I want to call my mother every week, or whatever it is. You know, I think that the wonderful characteristic of New Year’s resolutions is often they’re very specific and I think that for me it’s, it’s a little bit easier and sometimes it’s a little bit of a dodge just to sort of articulate an intention. Like, I want to be kind to my mother and, and that I don’t necessarily drill down into, okay, what is specifically what it will be that habit in practice. So I love, I think moments of beginning are really important and I think that they can have as much importance as we, you know, give to them.
Jen (4m 8s):
And I do think that there’s a lot to say that God is a beginner and you know, every morning, you know, we wake up to new mercies and so hallelujah for a new year, waking up to Nummies. Mm.
Amy Julia (4m 22s):
Yeah, it’s funny you say that cuz my husband, as you know, is an educator as well, and he walks around in September saying, happy New Year to all sorts of people, because he’s like, let’s just be clear that this is when my new year begins. And I feel that way, both because of his profession, but also because of, yeah, as you said, just being a mother who’s on that schedule with our kids as well. And I think that is just a lot of your book is really about the way that we approach time. And I’m wondering if you could just kind of take our listeners on the journey of what’s shifted in you in recent years when it comes to time and what you’ve learned about time more broadly, both in terms of like how you think about it, and also if there just are any other kind of like big picture I’m starting to shift my posture towards time.
Jen (5m 14s):
Well, I would say for sure that this is a story, this story that’s told in the book is very much a pandemic story. So I think for like, for as with so many other people, time was just sort of turned on its head during the pandemic. And of course all of us, you know, felt completely disoriented. And I don’t know if you remember, but of course, you know, so many articles were sort of talking about what do we do with this disorientation, you know, and you had this, like, you had these two camps. One was, you know, you gotta get more done, you gotta be productive, this is the time to like rate your memoirs and clean out your garage. And then the other side was, you know, of course this isn’t the time to get done, you know, stay in your pajamas and mourn the loss of the world as we once knew it.
Jen (6m 2s):
And I was definitely in the ca the first camp, you know, of like, I’m gonna get more done and I’m gonna read more books on how to get more done. and that’s sort of been my approach to time my entire life. And I never really challenged the assumptions of that. I think it’s very easy to say Productivity is a good, and in fact like to be productive is to be virtuous in a particular kind of way. And I always, I never, I never assumed otherwise. And then all of a sudden, you know, I think just being thrown into a world where you couldn’t be productive in exactly the same ways, well, first of all, people were getting sick.
Jen (6m 42s):
And so sickness, as you well know, thinking about your own work, Amy Julia is just a way that it, it it, it reminds us of the contingency of our lives, these ways that we don’t get to decide everything. We don’t get to decide how we live in time because often the conditions of our lives are such that we can’t be productive or maybe we can’t get out of bed or maybe we’re depressed for a particular season. So I think the pandemic forced me to reckon with that, that reality of, you know, we don’t get to decide our lives. And also just the reality of like living in community with other people, realizing that all of us are shut in the house.
Jen (7m 24s):
My kids are doing virtual learning. My husband’s tried to run a company virtually, like we’re all, and now everybody has to eat every meal here, And, we have to figure out just the logistics of life. and that idea of living communally was also sort of a testing of the assumptions of time. Productivity is really often an individualistic kind of goal. Like, I’ve got my list, I’ve cut my ambitions and I’m, I’m charging hard after them. And so I would definitely say that it was for me, the pan the pandemic was for me a time to say, why do, why am I approaching time this way? And it wasn’t, it really wasn’t a cerebral exercise.
Jen (8m 6s):
It was very much like, I am so anxious about time, I gotta figure out what this is about. Hmm. And what happened just very briefly is I think one important practice, two important practices during the pandemic. One was to start praying the hours. Now, I don’t think that this is a magical solution to time anxiety, but for me, just the practice of praying in the morning, praying at lunchtime, praying at dinner, praying before bed, it just started to interrupt the urgency that I felt about all my own lists and I, and to-dos. And I think the second practice was journaling.
Jen (8m 45s):
I, I just, because of course I was reading all the articles about the things I was supposed to be doing. I, somebody told me I needed to be, you know, keeping a plague journal. And so that journal was, became like hundreds of pages I was writing a lot. And I started to notice a shift in those pages that I wasn’t just like trying to decide my life, trying to like, you know, feel the weight of all the choices that I had to make So If, I could get things done and you know, make meaning. But I was starting to receive life a little bit more. I was just starting to pay attention to the ways that, you know, things were happening around me that I, I didn’t even decide, you know, God, I was just receiving the days and the hours.
Jen (9m 29s):
and that started to shift for me to realize, you know, maybe time isn’t mine to manage time is mine to receive.
Amy Julia (9m 37s):
Yeah. And I wanna get back to that idea of receiving in a second. But before we do that, I just thought we maybe can do a few like definitions for listeners. So one is just when you say praying the hours, you gave a little hint at that in terms of like praying morning, noon night. But will you just say a little bit more about what praying the hours means?
Jen (9m 54s):
Sure. Well there’s a wonderful introduction to Phyllis Tickles book. She’s got three volumes called the Divine Hours. And so she actually goes through a historical survey of, you know, how did this practice come to be? And she says, really early Christians borrowed it from the Jews who prayed at particular times of day. And Christians took up that practice and often had that practice, you know, Jewish Christians did for sure. And one of the things that really struck me, so, you know, there are different ways the monks and the nuns of course pray the hours and monasteries and abbies and convents and they actually get up in the middle of the night, you know, and also pray and pray early in the morning.
Jen (10m 37s):
They pray a lot. But Phyllis tickles book, which I was using, was just the four times really morning, noon, evening, and then bedtime prayers. So I was just following that book. But one of the things I think that really struck me in the introduction is she says Christians had this as a practice because they wanted to create, and these are hers, her words, a continuous cascade of praise. They sort of imagined like praise never ending, you know, Christians just handing off prayer to Christians in another part of a wor in of the world to another Christians in another part of the world. And just there would be this continuous hymn.
Jen (11m 17s):
And, and that was such a beautiful image. And I realized that was absolutely not why I was praying the hours, at least initially I was praying the hours so I could just feel less anxious. And I thought, well maybe I should just pray more.
Amy Julia (11m 32s):
That’s really beautiful. And then there’s another, just again, kind of on the definition side of things. You write about the difference between Cairo’s time and Kronos time. And again, could you just like spell that out?
Jen (11m 43s):
Sure, yeah. This has actually been a little bit of an interest for me and I’ve even done a little bit more work since the book is done. And I know you know that once you write a book, it’s not like you know everything, you keep learning on these things. Oh, so
Amy Julia (11m 55s):
Jen (11m 56s):
Yes. But in the New Testament and just in the Greek language, we have two different words for time Kronos, and people can hear the word chronology in that the Kronos is the kind of time that you can measure by a clock. You know, even though we didn’t have hours, you know, 3000 years ago we had sundials, we had water clocks, we had various ways for just measuring time. And that’s the, the kind of time we can measure is Kronos time and then Cairo’s time is this kind of higher time, this time that that suggests the eternal a frame of reference that’s different than just the 24 7, the time that’s, you know, fitting the time That’s opportune, the time that is beyond just the minute the second.
Jen (12m 45s):
But what’s really interesting, so I guess, you know, for anyone coming from a particular pro, like from a Christian perspective in particular, might say, oh, well this makes sense. God loves Cairos time and Kronos time is the bad kind of time. Right? You know, if, if all we could do is just sort of enter Cairos time, but when you actually look at the words as New Testament writers use them, they’ve used them in many ways interchangeably. And I think that really is to suggest that God entered Kronos time. He and he made Kronos time. And and it’s not to deliver us really necessarily from Kronos time, which he originally called good, but there certainly is a way that I think is 21st century people with absolutely no frame of reference for Cairo’s time.
Jen (13m 36s):
You know, we’re so right focused, singularly focused on Kronos time. These two words invite us to kind of, I guess, examine the story of time that we tell. And Cairo’s time says there’s a, there’s a story that’s not just about your minutes, your hours, your days, your years. There’s, there’s a story beyond that.
Amy Julia (13m 59s):
Well, and so I’m curious, do you think that there’s some sense of, in that interchangeability of like Cairo’s time and infusing Chronos time When, we are living in the presence of God, like experiencing the kingdom of God in our midst type of idea?
Jen (14m 15s):
Yeah. Oh, I’m telling you all the, I’m thinking, oh my gosh, you know, you have an M div. I’m sure you know way more about this than I do.
Amy Julia (14m 22s):
No, I, I mean I know I knew the brief words, but no, I’m curious. I’m like, I didn’t know they were kind of interchangeable. I knew about the dichotomy, not that they were fluid in the Yeah. And I think that’s actually really interesting. Yeah.
Jen (14m 35s):
I think of Kronos time as being kind of captured within Cairo’s time. Yeah. You know, that Cairo’s time really is this, you know, in him we move And, we live and move and have our being, you know, God of course is not, he isn’t confined to Kronos time. I don’t think he’s, I don’t, I probably can’t even say God’s relationship to Cairo’s time, but I certainly think that, you know, in him, like in Cairo’s time and this larger story that God is at work riding in the world, it’s in that time that our own lives are unfolding in Kronos time.
Jen (15m 18s):
You know, so there are these, I I do think it’s, it’s a way that our, like the scales can kind of fall from our eyes to use a, the soul of Tarsus metaphor, right? And, we can start to see that suddenly this hour is not just this hour on my, you know, my Apple watch. Like this is, this is a cairos hour and God’s, you know, in him and I live and move and have my being. He’s at work, he’s present here. So there this hour is so much more than just these 60 minutes.
Amy Julia (15m 52s):
Yeah. I, I do think I was with an older woman just the other day, an older Christian woman and I was really struck by, okay, this is not unusual to find older people who are existing more peacefully in time than I am. But what I was struck by was like, okay, from a statistical perspective, I have so much more time Yeah. Than you do to live on this earth. Like if we were to actually think we could, you know, using 80 as our measure of years or whatever, we’re gonna say measure how much I’ve got left and how much you’ve got left. Like I have exponentially more and I like rushing and anxious about not having enough, right?
Amy Julia (16m 34s):
Like, but this was this moment of really recognizing that my posture towards time is not like, does not accord with kind of reality when it comes to that sense of what you’ve been talking about, like the givenness of time. And I guess I have one more like kind of, I don’t know, framework question because you also have a little section that I think will be interesting to some listeners of this podcast, but about crypt time. Yeah. So again, could you just kind of define what that is, explain and, and explain what that has to do with this conversation?
Jen (17m 5s):
Well I have you to thank for my introduction to that because I think it was you Amy Julia who told me about John Swinton’s book Becoming Friends with Time or of Time. I always forget the, I think it’s the title Becoming Friends with Time and I, and actually I’m trying to think, well there were a lot of different rabbit trails I followed from your work.
Amy Julia (17m 25s):
I like Sarah Hendron
Jen (17m 26s):
Too, Sarah Hendron and that
Amy Julia (17m 28s):
Also been on this podcast just for listeners can go back cuz she’s really interesting. But anyway, yeah. So both of those people I’ve certainly really appreciated and I think you mentioned them both in
Jen (17m 39s):
Yes. Yeah. So Kryp time and this actually, and now that I think about it, I think that early on somebody, a disability scholar, or at least somebody who was reading disability scholarship had made the connection between pandemic time and cryp time. So this idea that Cryp time is contingent time. It’s, it’s the time you don’t control, it’s the time of bodies moving through the world. So Cryp time is, is from disability scholarship from what I understand. And this idea that, you know, it, the time is the time that it takes, you know, it’s not that a ta a task isn’t, you know, it’s not five minutes, you know Yeah.
Jen (18m 24s):
Objectively to, you know, or let’s say 30 seconds to put on my shoes. Right. We might say it takes 30 seconds to put on your shoes. We a we accord kind of this objectivity to time where it’s like there’s nothing objective about time at all. Because as we move through the world in our various bodies as they are abled and differently abled, we move, you know, at a relative pace, you know, right. To, to the abilities and capacities of our bodies. and that just seemed truly important. You know, When, we were talking about a pandemic, I mean talk about contingent time, you know, and we’re not, and not just in a metaphorical way, it wasn’t just Kryp time in a metaphorical way, it was kryp time because we were talking about a public health crisis.
Jen (19m 10s):
Amy Julia (19m 11s):
Well, and I think you mentioned John Swinton and it’s in his book that he mentions a book called The Three Mile Per Hour God, in Talking about Jesus presumably moving through the world at about three miles per hour walking through the world. And so Swinton would say love moves at three miles per hour. Yeah. Like that’s just what, that’s what we know. which I think accords with the idea that love is patient. Yeah. And you know, so as you know and as listeners of this podcast know we have a daughter with Down syndrome and one of the things that is true about Penny as like, I mean she’s a very responsible kid, but she moves through the world more slowly than I do. And then her siblings do. And it’s interesting cuz for a long time I saw that as like a negative or a, a disabling thing about her.
Amy Julia (19m 56s):
I have come to receive that as a gift actually, especially for me because I often move to the world, through the world so quickly that I miss things and I get anxious and I, I just, I, I do, I used to think that slow or limited that those were like negative words and I’ve come to be like, those are such like welcoming words. So again, I think it’s helped to shift my posture, which is still certainly in progress, but towards time as, as something different than as you’re saying like that kind of objective reality that I need to master. Which kind of leads back to that idea that you mentioned. And I really appreciated it about receiving time.
Amy Julia (20m 39s):
And one of the things I happened to be watching, what was it called? We Crashed, it’s like the show about WeWork at the same time that I was reading your book. And so in it, there’s a lot of manifesting in that show.
Jen (20m 55s):
Oh, interesting. And you
Amy Julia (20m 56s):
Contrasted receiving with manifesting. And I just wanted to ask you to again kind of like what is manifesting and what’s the difference between manifesting and receiving the time that we’ve been given? Mm.
Jen (21m 10s):
I had absolutely no, like no clue what manifesting was until I had this conversation with somebody from my church. She’s quite a bit younger than me and you know, a little bit more clued in I guess on the world into the wor in the world. And so she was talking about how she had a new job and that she didn’t manifest it and this opportunity. And I said, well, what is manifesting? What does that mean? And she said, you don’t know what manifesting means. And so, you know, she gave me a brief explanation and then I, I looked it up later. And so manifesting is just this idea that, you know, you can attract good things to you from the universe with by dent of your own kind of like focus. And like maybe it’s you repeat affirmations three times in the morning and six times in the afternoon and nine times before you go to bed and maybe you write things on your mirror.
Jen (21m 56s):
And so it, but it really is, it’s a reliance on the self is what I noticed. And I was kind of drawing that connection actually with time management too, which is also a lot of reliance on the self because when you talk about managing time, you know, a lot of these books are sort of channeling the heroism of like these things that you’re going to do to wrestle an hour, you know, wrestle another minute from the day. And so there’s this idea of relying on the self and I thought, well that is just like the anti-Christian posture. Yeah. I mean what, first of all, like what time can I, can I really manage?
Jen (22m 37s):
And of course I can like be more or less, you know, attentive, you know, as I work at the table, you know, I can there, you know, there we can talk about what it really looks like I guess to steward time. Although even that I, I sort of shy away from using a word even like steward. But certainly I don’t rely on myself to attract good things to me. You know, like I’m really receiving my life. And there, there’s a paradox here. I do think, I think there’s this both and of, of, of a choosing that we are doing as Christians because God has given us real responsibility. Right. And I think real freedom and the dignity of that.
Jen (23m 19s):
But you know, ultimately I receive everything I have as a gift, you know? Right. The ability to even have this conversation with you, you know, we have mouths that work And, we are breathing air And, we have computers and you know, all every, every inheritance behind us, you know, our families, our education, our, the people that have spiritually nurtured us. And so this, I wanna back away from seeing my life as fully up to me, you know? Yeah. Mine to decide first of all, you know, mine really to receive as a gift.
Amy Julia (23m 55s):
Well and that I do think there’s a, you know, a relationship, I guess this is obvious, but between receiving and the idea of life, like the givenness of life, like the, you know, the givenness of our bodies and our children and our relationships and times and places. And to your point, it doesn’t mean we have no choices or no agency, but it’s a kind of a, I guess it’s a distortion of agency. Both what you were saying about the manifesting as well as the time management books can be a distortion of agency where it’s really all coming down to my control as opposed to a sense of receiving. And I think that’s particularly true when the, what we are given seems to interrupt our individual goals Yeah.
Amy Julia (24m 41s):
Or potential achievements or
Jen (24m 45s):
Something. Something that’s right.
Amy Julia (24m 46s):
And that is, that feels like that has been, been true for me over the course of my life that I have started to again really understand and and be grateful for the givenness of life Yeah. And the opportunity to receive what I’m given rather than kind of take or make what I want. Hmm. And and it does seem to me that in the scripture and kind of the story of God, you know, and God’s love, there is this dichotomy between taking what we want and receiving what we are given. Yeah. Yeah. And, and again that can sound more passive than I think it actually is. I think there’s an active relationship with God.
Amy Julia (25m 27s):
Yes. And discernment and all of those things. But I do think in general our, my posture has been one of like, you know, much more on, I would never have used the word manifesting, but kind of more on that side of like, I need to discharge out and get, you know, take what I want as opposed to I have been given things and they weren’t what I expected and they weren’t always what I wanted and they are still things that I can give thanks for and receive and kind of operate in a way of giving and receiving rather than transactional, you know, the, the language we use around both time and money. Right. That, that’s right. We’re buying and selling and spending and saving and you know, all, all of those things.
Amy Julia (26m 10s):
Well, moving on to like the second part of your book is about habits, cultivating habits. And I, what I was thinking about is how you’ve got eight habits, they’re not what one would expect to find. These are not the habits that people are like Oh yes. Like Right. Yeah. And so I’m gonna give an example. You have a habit that one habit is waiting. Yeah. So I thought maybe, but let’s like just choose that one. Like how can waiting be a habit and why would we cultivate it? Why would we want to do that?
Jen (26m 37s):
That’s a good question. Yeah. I mean the habit framework in many ways is suggesting that these are things that we have to do repetitively, that we have to practice, that we have like our lives are sort of patterned in these ways. And I think that that’s really undersold in life. We’re very much a culture. I mean a technological culture is very much like do it once, get it done, move on progress. You know, we don’t like repetitive tasks. And so I think the habit framework is first of all suggesting we are gonna be very, all of these things are very repetitive, even waiting. So one of the things that I talk about in that book are just things, seasons of life that we don’t control that we simply have to endure.
Jen (27m 24s):
And what I talk, one of the things that I talk about in that chapter, but in other chapters as well, is just the change that’s happened in our lives. We realized that my mom was not, well probably about eight mm two years ago. and that started a discussion of, you know, what would be next for her and for her care. My brother died when I was in my twenties and my dad died actually when I was a freshman in college. My mom had been remarried but her husband has since passed. And so we knew that she would require that, that that we just needed to think about what was next and how could we assume the appropriate responsibility given to us by God to to honor her and to care for her.
Jen (28m 8s):
But there’s a lot that is never going to be fixed in a situation where my mom has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And so you know these, so to sort of return, I guess to the manifesting time management, like I can control my life, you know, I can make these choices and manage time and you know, script the life that I want. No, actually you receive your life and often you wait on God to act in particular seasons of life and sometimes they will never change. And you are simply called to endure and to persevere.
Jen (28m 48s):
And I think one thing that’s particularly frustrating about that in a technological age is that we cannot stand an unused minute. You know, anything that’s sort of like Anytime, like the motion is stilled and we’re asked to wait, we’re automatically in a posture of this is frustrating, I’m irritated, my time is being wasted. And I think what I’m saying in that particular chapter is, well let’s think about all the things that God does in and through and for his people as we actually are put in a position of waiting.
Amy Julia (29m 25s):
Yeah. So what I mean for you personally, cuz you’re in that season Yeah. Like what does that look like on the kind of Practicing or habitual side of it? Like are there things where you’re like, okay, I really know that in order to endure this season with some measure of like contentment and peace and joy and you know, all of those types of things, I am going to need to what?
Jen (29m 55s):
Stay as sane as possible Noah? Well, okay, I can, well first of all, I think being able to name when you’re in a season of waiting is really important. Cuz I think waiting can is a lot of wintering. That’s another image that I use in the book. And it’s also a biblical image. When you think about a vineyard and even just when a vineyard is first planted, there’s a lot of waiting. You don’t use fruit, the fruit from a vineyard, the grapes, you don’t use them for at least three years and you’re all, you’re constantly, there’s a lot of waiting built into like the calendar, the agricultural calendar. So for me right now, I’m embracing this as a season of, you know, there are gonna be tedious tasks that I’m taking up, which means, you know, I’m not gonna do other things.
Jen (30m 45s):
For example, you know, I did, I’m, I’m working on some stuff and of course thought, oh, maybe this is a next book and maybe I could do that and it could be a really great companion to In, Good Time and maybe I should propose that to my agent and you know, sooner rather than later would be make the most sense. And I was like, no, I thought about that for about three days and thought, no, this is absolutely not the season for that. This is a season of sloughing off for me. Things that, and partly I’ve been able to do that because we’ve moved. So I’ve naturally sloughed off some responsibilities, but I’m not putting them back on. I had a large volunteer responsibility at church in Toronto not taking up any volunteer responsibilities.
Jen (31m 27s):
In fact, in my rule of life right now as it currently stands, I actually have a line, you know, thank you, but I will not be able to volunteer in this season because of this and this and this. Yeah. But I will say that I don’t think waiting is inactive and I don’t think it’s unproductive. And maybe a better word really is to say unfruitful. One of the prayers that I’m praying in this season is just, you know, God let me love, well this one who suffers and let the practice of love every, you know, act of this practice of love, become a liturgy and a habit so that I can, this is sort of a paraphrase, so that I can, so that a compassion can be formed in me that could be formed in no other way.
Jen (32m 13s):
And so I’m really choosing to believe that in a season of waiting things are happening, my roots are going down deep. Yeah. And so I’m trying to practice that. And I will say also that on the, on the, the note of staying sane, I keep hearing the word creativity and I think creativity is so important in our lives. I think we image a creative God, you know, we bear his image. And so, so one of the things that, for example, it’s very challenging to be in a relationship with somebody who is struggling cognitively. Cause you have a lot of repetitive conversations. Yeah. and that can become very frustrating.
Jen (32m 52s):
Yeah. And so most recently, my practice is to treat it like improv. I’ve been treating my conversations with my mom like improv where I can’t ever say no. I always have to say yes, I have to, you know, whatever comes my way, I have to say yes. And then I have to kind of continue it and throw it back to her. And that’s actually been like a lifesaver. I’m like, this is a game. This is, this is fun. I can be creative. And it, and it feels like an important work of love that, that I’m engaged in. And which isn’t to say that I always wake up and go, this is an important work of love that I’m engaged in. Rah. Right, right. But some of those are helping me, some of those habits and practices.
Amy Julia (33m 35s):
Hmm. That’s great. Well, and kind of, you mentioned having a rule of life, which is something else that comes up in the book. So I just was hoping you could explain like what is a rule of life and how is that different than like a time management system, you know? Yeah. That’s, how
Jen (33m 51s):
Are the things That’s that’s a great question. I’ve been working on this material to offer it in a workshop. And so I’ve kind of come to the language and This is not just, you know, I haven’t, I didn’t make up a rule of life, you know, this comes from the monks and the nuns who created community rules really for, you know, how do we live together in community under God, you know? Yeah. Understanding that our lives are offered in service to God and in and in honor to one another, how we’re gonna do this. And so Benedict, you know, comes out of the cave in the fifth century with a rule and we’ve got, you know, all kinds of variations on that in various monastic communities. I think of a rule as a way to pattern our lives in response to God’s voice.
Jen (34m 37s):
So there’s a couple of in faithful response to God’s voice. So there’s a couple things here. It’s not just a patterning our lives, you know, and patterning suggest habits and practices. This is very much the frame of Benedict’s rule. It’s like, what are we gonna do on a daily basis? How are we gonna greet guests every time they come? You know, there’s this idea of repetition built into a rule that when I, I don’t have to decide differently every time I open the door, every time I open the door, I know if I’m a Benedictine monk, I receive that Guest as if he is Christ himself. Yeah. So habits and practices, that’s what the language of patterning is. But it’s not just habits and practices to get things done, habits and practices to check off things off your bucket list.
Jen (35m 20s):
You know, it’s to live in faithful response to God’s voice. And I love the idea of response because I think it suggests the word responsibility. This kind of, this paradox again, this like we’re on the tightrope between like that of both receiving our lives from God and choosing them too. I think of Mary and Martha and I thought about that story so much. I would like, we should have another conversation offline about what do you make of that story? But you know, Mary is commended for having chosen the good portion. And so there is a way, I think a rule of life is asking us to do some really good choosing.
Jen (36m 2s):
We all, and I think actually choosing is like one of the most important Spiritual practices right now. Because we live in a world of like unending choice and So If, I’m living in response to God’s voice. First of all, I’m really trying to name what are my vocational callings from God? What is, what are the dimensions of this life that he’s given to me? And then how can I Faithfully live in response to his voice, which calls me into these things. This work of being a, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a writer, a friend, a neighbor, a citizen.
Jen (36m 42s):
These are, this is the way how I conceive of my rule. Lots of people write their rules differently. Sometimes people write it according to time. You know, this is what I wanna do on a daily basis and a weekly and monthly. Sometimes people think about it very generally, you know, with my material resources, I wanna do this with my time. You know, for me I like to think about vocational roles and responsibilities because it allows me to just admit there’s a diversity of things. I think that God’s called me too. And it’s not about balancing them necessarily. I think that there are seasons of our lives where, you know, for one reason or another, one particular role or responsibility is sort of at the, at the forefront.
Jen (37m 29s):
But yeah, so I guess to sort of just rehearse that again, a rule of life is just a practice to help us think about how do we pattern our lives in faithful response to God’s voice.
Amy Julia (37m 41s):
That’s beautiful. And I’m, I’m a faithful subscriber to your newsletter, so I know about the word pop that you’ve been preparing for quite some time. And I don’t know whether I think that’ll already be in action by the time this podcast comes out in January. But if there are people who are listening to this and who are like, I wanna know more about this rule of life thing. Like obviously they can pick up In, Good, Time. But also is there any anything else you wanna point people towards?
Jen (38m 9s):
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, so many other good resources that people are using out there. But I would say for me, I do think that this is a workshop that I’d like to continue to do because I’m really excited about the material and so people can contact me. I’m happy to, you know, offer it at a church, at a, you know, at a conference or something. And I would just say stay tuned because there, there probably will be that, I mean, who knows, I, I won’t say what God has ahead, but you know, maybe there will be a book ahead or just other material. I think that I, that I do continue to, to write through postscript my Monday letters.
Amy Julia (38m 49s):
Yeah. Which are, are great. And I really appreciate, well we’re kind of coming toward the end of our time and I’m thinking once again about starting a new year and this, these times of thinking about time, right. A little bit more specifically than we might on a day-to-day basis. And I’m wondering if there are people who are in that place of, I don’t want to be overwhelmed and overtaken by time in the way that I feel like I have been in the past. Right. Like, do you have any, I don’t know, encouragement or for lack of a better word, advice about just approaching a new year with a desire for maybe a new posture towards time?
Amy Julia (39m 32s):
Is there anything that you might wanna offer to people who are in that place?
Jen (39m 38s):
There are really kind of two, again, this is sort of a paradoxical frame, which you’re probably not surprised about. But I think on the one hand, like I think we can really believe time is plentiful. And I don’t mean that in the way that time management, you know, experts would say if you just get creative enough, you can do it all. No, it’s not a the time optimism of time management, it’s just that time is plentiful. Like our lives are short, but God’s time is long and it is a sort of return to the Cairos time of before the mountains were formed. You know, you are God like you, you were and are and ever will be.
Jen (40m 21s):
And so sometimes just having habits and practices that cause us to remember the longer, the plenty of time of God’s time can sort of take a little bit of the pressure off our lives. And then at the same time, time is scarce. And that’s what Moses says in Psalm 90 is that, you know, we, we do suffer under time in many ways. We, we feel that time is far too brief and it is because, you know, like you said, even if we have 80 years, will that feel like enough? I’ve never, I don’t know if you meet Anybo, I mean you do sometimes meet people who are, they’re ready, they’re ready to go.
Jen (41m 3s):
And amaz that’s amazing for their example. But I think we have to get realistic about time. I think some of us think that, you know, I just, I’m forever gonna be busy and I’m gonna have a list that’s too long and time’s always gonna be too short. Well, you know, time anxiety is gonna be with us in the modern world because the conditions of time are continually accelerating. But are there other choices that we have to make, you know, ways in which we can say, I could do less because I don’t maybe have to prove myself as much, or maybe I could choose to walk with a three Mile an hour. God, you know, maybe I can take up relationships with people who move more slowly through time and that actually could be a gift that I could receive.
Jen (41m 46s):
I think community is a really huge part of this. I have to say that one of the ways in which we step away from the urgency of having to kind of make and manage time and script our lives is where we just make room for other people. Because sometimes that doesn’t necessarily feel like productive time, but it’s a way that we sort of become more human, I would say. So those are a couple things. Time is plentiful and time is scarce
Amy Julia (42m 14s):
Well, and in both cases there’s both a potential for humility. Yeah. And there’s also, I think that brings us back to that idea of receiving what we are given and hopefully with some measure of gratitude for it. Yeah. I am grateful for you and for your New book and for the good work you’re putting out into the world. So thank you so much for your time today. Yes. And for all that you’re doing.
Jen (42m 42s):
Thank you Amy Julia.
Amy Julia (42m 47s):
Thanks as always for listening to This episode of Love is Stronger Than Fear. And again, I’d love to hear from you. So I’m, if your are thoughts, if there are questions, if you have suggestions for other people who might come On the Podcast in the future, please reach out. My email is Amy Julia Becker writer gmail.com. Thanks also to Jake Hansen for editing this podcast to Amber Beery, my social media coordinator who does everything behind the scenes to make sure that everything happens. And finally, as you go into your day, Today I hope you’ll carry with you the peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.
Learn more with Amy Julia:
- Spiritual Timekeeping in a New Year with James K. A. Smith
- The Healing Work of Rest with Ruth Haley Barton
- Disability and the Speed of Love with Dr. John Swinton
- Resting in a Restless World with Kate Rademacher
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads, and you can subscribe to my Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast on your favorite podcast platforms.