IN RECENT YEARS the medical profession has reported a dramatic increase in stress-related illnesses such as hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), heart attacks and strokes.
It was also noted that nowadays people in their twenties and thirties frequently suffer from these ailments, which were formerly confined primarily to those in much older age brackets.
Why is this? Among other causes, the doctors point to the pressures of time.
Actually, there is just as much time as there ever was. Our earth turns at the same speed, and the days and years pass at the same intervals of measurement that have existed for much longer than any of us can remember. Why should we suddenly be feeling such pressures of time?
As we look back, we can imagine that life must have moved at a more leisurely pace fifty, a hundred or a thousand years ago. But did it really? Certainly, the life span was shorter, with fewer years for great accomplishment. Also the whole way of life was much harder, with greater physical effort required for the mere routine of daily living without the time-saving gadgets of the modem era.
But somehow our modern age seems to be identified with a compulsion or mass hysteria that indicates a fear that there is not enough time for all the things that need to be done.
A walk along a street in any downtown area will show just how prevalent the hurry habit has become. It’s easy to spot those who are in a hurry. The slant of their body proclaims it. The head always precedes the feet, almost as though by projecting his face forward, the individual expects to teach his destination sooner.
The signs of the pressures of the time are everywhere.
One day my husband and I had the radio on in the car as we were driving along. We weren’t paying any particular attention to the music until I suddenly heard these words, wailed by the singer: “If I only had time! If only I had time!” I didn’t hear the rest of the song, because those words made me think how pressed most people allow themselves to become in our modern society, which is so blessed with energy-saving devices and appliances that few of us even find time to use them all.
Some modern authorities attribute the increased pressure of time to the way our lifestyle has changed. Whereas at the turn of the century the average person walked or drove a horsedrawn vehicle a few miles a day, now we think nothing of driving an automobile hundreds of miles or boarding an airplane to fly halfway around the world — all in the same time period.
Certainly wonderful progress has been made in our technological society, but often people seem to feel that they must hurry to keep up.
The blessings of modern travel are tremendous, but the concept of speed and more speed seems to pervade other areas of life as well. It appears that the faster we are able to go, the faster we want to go. And the pressure carries over into other departments of life.
New products and new developments call for high pressure tactics to market them before they become obsolete. Things, places and even people move through our lives at an accelerated rate, it seems. Products are made to be used and then thrown away, and many areas of life seem transient and fleeting. People move, change jobs and form new relationships. The experience of moving through a kaleidoscope of faces, places, jobs and things may make life seem tenuous and fleeting. But, through it all, we must understand that it is not our world or the age we live in that makes us feel pressured by time. It is our reaction to it. Even when all the rest of the world is rushing, we can still have divine order in our lives.
The answer is that regardless of how the current pressures of time came about, we can learn to cope with them. Not only that, but we can so learn to live above the stress and anxiety in the world that time serves us, and we move through life without hurry or strain. It is well for us to remember that, regardless of how the rest of the world allows itself to be pressured by time, we can break the time barrier in our mind and live like the divinely ordered individuals we were created to be.
In the beginning God gave us dominion over everything on our earth, and He also gave us dominion over our thoughts and our relationships with all things, including our relationship with time.
In exercising the dominion God gave us, we will never try to “make time” or “take time”. We will simply use the time we have, right where we are, under divine direction. Time is not to be resisted, any more than it is to be served. It is simply a means of designating a particular moment in our space-time continuum. It should serve our convenience, not be our master.
Charles Fillmore put it this way: “Time is the measure that man gives to passing events. The only power in time is what man imparts to it.” (The Revealing Word, Time).
Jesus gave some instructions which we can use in learning to live with time in a comfortable, stress-free way.
Jesus never allowed himself to be pressured or pushed.
Early in His ministryjesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding at Cana. Jesus’ mother was there, and, recognizing her Son’s special powers, she asked him to do something about the fact that the wine supply had been exhausted. Even though there was an obvious need, Jesus did not allow Himself to be pressured into hurry. He first said, “My hour has not yet come.’’(John 2:4 RSV)
Then, when the time was right, under divine guidance, He supplied the wine that was better than anything served before. But He didn’t hurry. He did what He did in divine order and under divine direction. And so can we.
Had Jesus accepted the suggestion that He must hurry, He would not have been able to accomplish the great works that He did. Nothing really worthwhile is ever done in a rush.
Whenever one hurries, things have a way of going wrong. Something breaks. Things don’t fit as they should. Obstacles arise to keep the individual away from the goal, it seems. And delays! Traffic jams and uncooperative people seem to beset the one who rushes through life.
So, recognizing that hurry accomplishes no good purpose and may actually be detrimental to what we are trying to accomplish, we can choose to overcome the hurry habit.
Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23 RSV)
It is the world that urges us to hurry — the world and our preoccupation with competition and limitation. But when we get back to the Christ, to the Spirit of God within us, there is no hurry. There is simply universal divine order and an awareness that, with God in charge, all is well. Under divine direction, we go forward to meet our good without frustration or fear.
When we are in tune with our God self and living according to the guidance from within, we will be content to live in the eternal now, not pushed and pressured by past and future, but impelled easily and in divine order from moment to moment by the spiritual activity within.
Jesus invited us to live in the present time, in consciousness as well as in body, when He instructed, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matt. 6:34 RSV)
He also said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt. 6:33 RSV) One of the “things” is the opportunity to have plenty of time and order in our lives.
He even gave us instructions for seeking the kingdom at a moment’s notice should we allow ourselves to become caught up in the time-speed pressure of the crowd. He invited, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 RSV)
It is well to remember that, whatever the pressure of hurry around us, we can choose to come apart to the place of the Christ within ourselves, where we remember who we are, children of God, and why we are here, to express His nature. In this consciousness, we will put all things in their proper perspective and begin to do the things that need to be done by us at the pace that is right for us. But first, we will accept the invitation of the Christ within our own being to release our burdens and accept the rest that comes with our willingness to answer the demands of the world under the direction of the Christ. There is always a right and perfect way to accomplish all things, and God will reveal it to us when we learn to listen to the Voice within.
One of our friends who continued a busy and productive life well into the years past the usual retirement age liked to remind herself, “God is never in a hurry, and He’s always on time.” We can remind ourselves of this as well, when we find the pressures of time building up. This is true. God moves in and through His universe in a divinely ordered way. He certainly doesn’t hurry, and He’s never late. When we trust Him to guide our days, we will find that we, too, can be “never in a hurry, and . . . always on time”.
Many times our good needs the opportunity to grow and develop. If we try to force it by hurry, we simply delay the time it will reach its own maturity. God’s time is perfect, and when we commit our lives to Him and let His good unfold through us, we will grow into good that will surprise us — happily.
Don’t let time be a burden.
Even when they are not hurrying, many people are allowing their minds to be obsessed by the whole concept of time, allowing it to cut into their productive activity. They are making of time a white elephant.
About a hundred years ago in India, when the rajahs were the ruling class, these princes had a way of getting even with each other. The rajah would send a person who had displeased him a white elephant.
White elephants were believed to be magic, and, in a society where elephants were an important part of the work force, the unusual white elephants were removed from the work force and treated like honored guests. They must be bathed and perfumed. Jewels should be put in their tusks, and they were covered with expensive fabrics. Taking care of a white elephant was an expensive and time-consuming occupation. So, while the gift of a white elephant might seem to be a nice gesture, it was actually the passing on of a gift that was useless and very expensive to maintain.
Some people treat time in this way, as a burden to be lavished with much thought and feeling. No matter how much time they have, they always complain that they have “so much to do”. They bathe and perfume those white elephant thoughts as they perform the work many times in mind before actually getting to it. The burdens of their thoughts about the pressures of time serve no good purpose, and they do cost dearly!
Nobody has given us a white elephant. We have made it for ourselves, when we always feel that something is hanging over us, waiting to be done. We have made our own white elephant, and we can get rid of it. When we decide these heavy thoughts are more than we want to support, we can always give them away, just as the rajahs did with their white elephants. But we don’t have to give them to another person. When we release those heavy, burdensome thoughts, they simply fade away into the nothingness from which they came. It was only our mental support that gave them life.
Time will be what we name it. We can call it a hard taskmaster, a burden, a limited supply, a threat hanging over our head — or a friend. We will not be burdened by thoughts of the things undone, and we will not find time “hanging heavy” on our hands when we develop a healthy attitude toward it, when we decide to consider time our friend, and to use it, instead of letting it use us.
Jesus, speaking as the Christ, invited us to bring our burdens to Him and to find rest. Whatever our burdens of thought about time, we can take them to the Spirit of God within us and let them be dissolved into the nothingness from which they came.
Instead of hurrying to accomplish something or carrying heavy burdens of thought about this or that job, we can establish priorities and begin to accomplish what needs to be done by us in a divinely ordered way, without pressure and strain.
Pressure builds up when we look at many things to be done or feel burdened about our responsibilities. But we will always feel better about ourselves and our accomplishments when we are moving ahead easily, one undertaking at a time. Sometimes we relieve ourselves of tremendous anxiety and stress simply by starting to do something.
Of course, the best way is to pray first, letting God establish our priorities, and then proceed one step at a time, as the Spirit within directs. In the long run, we will find that this is the most efficient method of accomplishment.
We may simply start in doing first one thing and then another, but we may find out that when the day is over, we haven’t really accomplished what we wanted to do. By taking time at the start of the day to pray and get in tune with God, we set the stage for a divinely ordered day of perfect accomplishment. We will be guided into the right order in which to approach the various jobs to be done, and we will also learn how to eliminate time wasters.
More than most people realize, time-wasting activities can creep in and take over to such an extent that we may appear to be very busy and yet be accomplishing little. Setting the stage for a divinely ordered day will help us to recognize and to deal with such time-consuming interruptions as the person who, not having much to do himself, comes in “just to pass the time” or the process of stopping in the middle of a job to take care of some little inconsequential matter that should have been done before we started.
Sometimes busy people feel that they do not have time to pray at the start of the day. But those who have tried it know that the prayer time can be the most important part of our day’s activity. This is the time when we get in tune and establish the foundation for all of our day’s activities. It is also much easier during the day to stop and feel God’s presence when we have become “prayed up” in the morning.
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30 RSV), and so it is. When we first obey the instruction of the Christ, “Come unto me” (Matt. 11:28 RSV), and let God plan our day, our burdens will fall away, and we will find that we experience ease and light, rather than darkness and heaviness. We are in tune with time, rather than working against time.
Another help in accomplishing first things first is to concentrate on the job at hand, rather than anticipating all of the other things waiting to be done. This is a way of living in the present, the eternal now, rather than scattering ourselves into other times and places mentally. Concentration is a fine key to accomplishment and to finding peace in a world of people pressured by time. We make our own reactions to life and to each task undertaken, and we can choose the results we want by right choices in our attitudes. When we are peacefully proceeding with the job at hand, concentrating on it, we will find that we finish that portion of our life and move on to the next in a divinely ordered way.
When we learn to pray at the beginning of the day, we may also find that we change our priorities. Some things we have thought extremely important may not appear so crucial when we are letting God plan our day. And we will find that, instead of letting ourselves be burdened by thoughts of things and pressures of society, we are guided into new ways and freed from some burdens that no longer seem necessary. Letting God take charge and direct our day makes for a whole new way of looking at life and time.
So the formula for establishing priorities and relieving the pressure of time is: Pray first. Then act, under divine direction, accomplishing one thing at a time.
There is no time in Spirit. There is only the eternal Now, and when we learn to tune in to Spirit and live in the present, we will find that we are no longer controlled or pressured by time. We simply use it to learn and to grow and to live richly without pressure.
Charles Fillmore put it this way:
“Time has no power over one who dwells in the mind of God. There is no time to the mind of one who realizes omnipresence.” (Atom-Smashing Power Of Mind 157)
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.