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The Gift of Time


Jill stared at her son, the frustration building inside of her. “Why aren’t the dishes done?” she asked him. “You have had hours to finish these, what more do you need? It doesn’t even look like you are working on them” she found herself saying.

She watched as tears formed in her son’s eyes. He didn’t say anything but moved back to the sink and began shuffling some dishes around. Jill rolled her eyes in frustration, knowing that if she wanted the dishes done, she would have to do them. She didn’t have time though, and she wasn’t going to miss the dinner she scheduled with her best friend.

“Those better be done when I get home” Jill told her son. “I’ll be back in two hours.”

Jill put on a jacket as she left the house. The restaurant was close, and she decided to walk to try and get through some of her frustrations so that she could have a good evening with her best friend.

The wind was colder than expected, and Jill had to zip up her jacket to try and keep the chill out. She felt herself at the point of tears. It had been a rough go since her divorce, and she knew it had been rough on her son too. She didn’t feel that she had the emotional energy to do much more than work to smile and pretend that things were okay.

A few tears fell in the cold as she neared the restaurant. She was grateful for her friend being willing to be with her, as it was about the only real support she had right now.

Jill walked through the restaurant doors and scanned to see if her friend had arrived yet. She didn’t see her, so she followed the server to her seat and had the server bring two glasses of water. Jill waited without really looking at the menu, thinking of the things she needed to talk to her friend about.

After a little bit, Jill glanced at the clock on the wall. Her friend was ten minutes late. Jill found a little frustration building inside herself. She checked her phone, then texted her friend. “I’m here” the text read, “at a table on the North side.”

Jill continued to wait, and when the server asked if she was ready, Jill told him she would keep waiting for her friend. As she grew more tense, she looked again at the clock. Twenty minutes. Her friend was twenty minutes late. “Go figure” Jill said dejectedly. “Go figure.”

Jill nearly jumped when she heard her text notification. She grabbed her phone, but then stared in disbelief, fighting back the tears.

“Soooo sorry Jill! I double-booked things for tonight and forgot all about the dinner. I am so sorry you are waiting. I’m sending you a gift card for at least two meals so that you can have one and take one home. We’ll connect again soon, but I hope that the money helps. Again, truly sorry.”

Jill wasn’t sure how long she stared at the screen. “I don’t need money” she thought. “I need you.”

As Jill continued to stare at the text, she found her sadness turning to anger as she worked to not cry in the restaurant. She pressed the home button on her phone so that she couldn’t see the text anymore. As the app closed and her home screen appeared, Jill saw a picture of her son, the picture she had put there to always remember him.

In Jill’s mind, she heard her son say the exact words Jill had just said – “I need you.” Jill stared at the picture of her son, thinking of him home by himself, probably crying and not doing any dishes.

Jill realized then that she no longer believed that anyone could love or need her. Her divorce had really impacted her, but in more ways than she had realized. She had stopped giving time or attention to her son as she had stopped believing that she was someone worth loving, and her view of herself was impacting her willingness to help her son.

Taking a deep breath, Jill bowed her head in shame. “I can’t give him a perfect home or family” she thought to herself, “but I can give him me.”

Jill ordered two meals to go, but she paid for them herself. “We’ll use the gift card together later” she said to herself, thinking of her friend.

As Jill walked home, she found herself growing excited to share with her son. Walking inside the house, Jill saw her son sitting on a chair by the sink. The dishes hadn’t been touched, but Jill could see that he had been crying. He jumped up, fearful that he was in trouble, and started washing dishes again.

"Hey bud” Jill said, “let’s go and eat dinner and watch a movie together.”

“Really?” her son said, his face brightening a little, “I thought you were eating with your best friend.”

“You are my best friend” Jill said, hugging him. “Let’s be sure that we always have each other”

 

One way that we can change the world is to give another person the gift of our time. People often need our time and care more than they need our money or gifts. While money and gifts are certainly helpful, nothing can ever replace you or what you can do for someone else.

Believing in someone or something is generally not an efficient process, and it probably shouldn’t be. In a world that promotes high efficiency and that rewards those who can be the most efficient, we may feel that there is not much room to believe in something or someone that takes longer than the few minutes that we have available.

When people around us understand that we care about them enough to be with them, even when it isn’t efficient to do so, it will help to build good in this world.

We generally do our best when we have healthy or meaningful interactions with others. Time is a gift, given to all people equally. We all have the same amount of time in our day, but the world gives us, quite literally, billions of ways to spend it.

Today, try to give someone the gift of your time. Those inefficient minutes you spend with another person may just be what helps to change our world, for good.

 

At Believe, we are working to create a community of individuals who are willing to give some time to help change the world, for good. We would love to have you join us. The world may never be the same.

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