Posted by: Phil Anderson | November 17, 2013

Unexpected Free Time

We’ve had some severe weather come through the area today: wind and rain, thunder and lightning, even a brief tornado watch. Our church cancelled the Sunday night service, and suddenly we had a free evening with no plans and nowhere to go.

I’m not very skilled at making good use of my free time. We’re so busy with work, church, and the kids’ schools that unscheduled hours are a rare commodity. I have any number of options: there are movies or TV shows I’d like to watch, books I want to read, I could do some extra writing, or get some projects done around the house.

So I start out with a general plan to do some or all of those things, but first I tend toward relaxing for a little while. Maybe I’ll flip through the newspaper, or check Facebook on my iPod, or even take a nap. Why not? I have some free time.

Then my wife will think about all the things that don’t get done because we don’t usually have time to do them. “Phil, are you busy right now?” she’ll ask. “Not yet,” I’ll answer. And because I recognize what she hasn’t said, I’ll go see what needs to be done and try to accomplish enough to keep her happy.

If other family members are also unoccupied, we take an informal poll. “What do you want to do today?” “Can we do something together?” “Should we play a family game or watch a movie?” “Would you rather do something on your own?” “I’d like to do this, but I’m also willing to do that.” “I don’t like her suggestion and she doesn’t like mine.” It takes a lot of negotiation to come to a consensus and much time is wasted waiting for someone to make a decision that everyone else will agree to.

And as the day comes to a close, it’s rarely with any sense of accomplishment. I didn’t get any extra writing done. I worked on one or two small projects but there are dozens more. We watched a movie together, but it wasn’t really one I wanted to see. I had some free time and I have nothing to show for it.

But maybe if the wind keeps blowing, the power will go out at work. Then I’ll have a little more free time, and I’ll make much better use of it tomorrow.

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Responses

  1. Maybe God wanted some of your “free time”. I didn’t hear Him mentioned in the list of possible things to do. Just adding my thoughts to yours. Love you.

    • Thanks for the reminder, Mom. I started to write up a reply, but I think I’ll save it for a future blog entry. The short answer is that I try not to relegate God to a separate category; He’s in everything I do.

  2. […] weeks ago I posted about the discrepancy between what I want to do with my free time and what I actually do. I listed some of the responsibilities that take up my time, and some of the […]


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