Love is Spelled T-I-M-E
Love is wildly popular, in conversations and songs. Everyone believes in love, at least we think so. But believing is not a problem. It’s the doing.
How is love best described? Self-sacrifice might be the higher definition: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). This thankfully gets us past warm feelings to costly actions. Dying for someone we love is the ultimate proof. What loving parent wouldn’t give his or her life for a child?
But as we break that life down into smaller increments, it is simply made up of time: minutes, hours, days, and years. We may be ready to sacrifice blood for our beloveds in times of crises, but not always our precious day-to-day time. We can imagine ourselves as the parent hero in some big screen moment, but can we also play a big part in the daily routine?
Time is the currency of all relationships. It’s precious because we all get only twenty-four hours per day. Once we spend an hour, we can’t recapture it—it’s gone forever. If we spend an hour or two with our children, we can’t spend those same hours on anything else. The hour is sacrificed for them. It’s gone.
Doing the math, 2 hours a day equals 14 hours a week, about 56 hours a month, which becomes 730 hours a year. Spread over 20 years, this means 608 full days, almost two years of our lives.
But it takes more than two hours a day to raise children. The average grade school child demands three to five hours a day. This isn’t even quality time; it’s just busy time.
An infant and toddler demand even more. Those early years are front-loaded with urgencies. The teens through the twenties have back-loaded demands in worry alone, over friends, dating, college or career, and other almost-adult choices. Going from worry to hurry to a slower “hang” time is costly.
Time, time, time is the high price of a loving parent, but who has time? Jan and I believed that if we invested our time heavily in our kids while young, we would give them a growing deposit from which to draw when they were older. It was a calculated risk we were willing to take.