28 Things, 5 Boxes, 120 Hours

On this dreary day in Athens, I am doing one of my least favorite things- going through my class schedules and penciling due dates, meetings and tests into my planner. Despite how cute Lilly Pullitzer makes her agendas, the stickers and bubbly fonts don’t make the spiral notebook in front of me any more fun.

Behind sips of iced coffee and the squealing sounds of machines steaming milk, I’m impatiently waiting for the “expected” snow to fall as I sit staring out the window at Starbucks. Someone opens the door and allows the frigid air to push through, hit me in the face and snap me back to reality. Glancing back down at the patterned planner, I notice that next week is so full of things I have to do that I may not have time to go to the bathroom.

I could feel it- the feeling in my chest, the tightening in my stomach, and the wave of anxiety that crashes over me. All because of a week that is still two days of peaceful rest away.

God has led me to many things here in this classic city. Wonderful friends, opportunities, organizations, an amazing education, and many other things that I could type but would most likely lose your attention.

One thing that I’m beyond thankful for is my job. I have been blessed with nannying three beautiful little boys- three little boys who know how to make my heart sing more than anything else.

Yesterday, I went to pick up the oldest child from school. Stepping out of my car, I shivered as the cold air touched my skin. I walked through the glass doors to get him from the playground when I saw him running carelessly on the grass. Despite the chilly wind, I stood for a moment and watched him play, dirt stains on his knees, wild hair, unaffected by the same cold that was making me wish I had worn two jackets.

Pressed for time to get him to basketball practice, I called his name and we made our way back to the car. After the buckling of seatbelts and his music choice, “T-swift,” we made our way across town.

Between instrumental breaks of Swift’s “Shake It Off,” I asked him about his day. Enthusiastically, he told me every single thing he did at school- friends he played with, pictures he drew, books he read, snacks he ate. “Shake It Off” fades out and the car is filled with silence and the repetitive click of my blinker.

“What did you do at school today, Miss Ansley?” I hear from the booster seat in the back.

I take a deep breath reflecting on my long day of classes, schoolwork, stress and irritation.

“Well, it was really long and boring. I had to listen to a guest speaker in one of my classes,” I respond.

“What did he talk about?” he asks from the back.

I notice the excitement in his sweet voice, genuinely intrigued by my response to his question and I caught myself wishing that I were as excited about things as he was.

That’s when it hit me. When did life become boring?

When did everything that I have to look forward to simply become a penciled mark in a dated box on a calendar?

A lot of things have happened to me in the past year. I’ve committed to the fact that my hair is curly, I’ve finally decided what I wanted to do with my life, I’ve formed new relationships and rekindled old ones, and best of all, I’ve found my way back to the one who started it all – Jesus.

During my bible study this morning, I realized the text that I was dissecting in front of me was exactly what I needed on this cold and rainy morning.

“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short… For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31

The words soak into me. This Earth is passing away.

Why are we so fixated on making things perfect? Why do we dwell on the past and plan the future as if it’s in our hands and not God’s?

Looking back down at my planner, I count the number of things I have scribbled into the boxes. 28 things all crammed into 5 boxes and 120 hours.

The numbers get into my head and I can feel it in my chest again- the pressure of time.

I glance down at the watch on my wrist; filled with numbers marking the hours and minutes, and tick marks defining the individual seconds. The minute hand passes the 12 on my silver watch, beginning a new hour.

I often forget that God has a different watch than I do.

God’s watch isn’t filled with numbers breaking down hours, minutes and seconds. God’s watch is infinite.

With God, every time that the second hand ticks, our time increases. With God, we live an eternal life.

I look at my planner one last time and recount the things I have to do in the upcoming week, hoping that I counted wrong the first time. The recount doesn’t change anything. The number is still 28 and I realize that I still have to get those things done by certain times according to my watch. I take a deep breath and rejoice in the fact that God has a different watch than I do – a watch where he makes things happen at the right time in our lives and not just because the hour and the minute hands lay on certain numbers.

With that realization, my worries melt away much like the ice in my transparent Starbucks cup. The feeling in my chest dissipates; the wave of anxiety flattens out and those 28 things, 5 days and 120 hours that had my stomach in knots simply become another week to praise God.


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