taking the words of Jesus seriously

I used to participate in some mommy message boards shortly after my boys Jacob (4) and Josh (1) were born. Sometimes, in the fatigue and stress and anxiety of sleeplessness and colic, conversations on the mommy boards got a little heated. And when they did, I noticed the #1 insult that well-meaning, kind moms would toss one another’s way: lazy.

We don’t want to be lazy. That stereotypical woman, sitting on the couch in her bathrobe watching soap operas and eating bon bons. (This sounds fabulous, by the way, if you replace soap operas with Bravo reality TV.)

But the insult always caught me short, too. Am I being lazy when I tried letting my colicky baby self-soothe for three minutes? Am I being lazy for using plastic bottles?

Am I being lazy for allowing an allotment of TV? For Easy Mac?

Lazy for having stretch marks?

Lazy for a career that has taken a detour with two little boys at home?

The fear of laziness has made me do all sorts of crazy things, and I can feel it ramping up whenever I’m tired or anxious or stressed or overwhelmed.

And then I heard about how Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) made waves by reclaiming her time during a hearing for Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary.

He’s going on about something and not answering her question, but he’s on her time and breaking procedural congressional rules. So the Congresswoman takes this moment to take a risk, to interrupt, to do something women are often loath to do and repeatedly declares, “reclaiming my time.” With those simple words, this phrase is becoming a movement — not only for women but also for people of color, for the LGBTQ community, for people with special needs, for anyone really who has lived their life being told that their time doesn’t matter, that they often exist to be AVAILABLE for others.

And so this isn’t really about politics to me, but it is about a claim of personhood. A claim that our time here is finite and we’d do well to claim it, and not always spend it (as I have) doing trivial things for others or things that don’t matter — and instead spend it doing something purposeful and present for yourself.

I notice this difference between my husband and me when it comes to claiming time. When we get a moment of calm around here, Ben has this ability to turn off the over-functioning and possibly watch TV. He can momentarily ignore the crumbs on the floor or the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer.

And too often I find I can’t. And I start scurrying everywhere to get it done for that elusive moment when I can relax, which of course generally occurs about 2 minutes and 45 seconds before naptime is over. And I never ever refill my time, and I am depleted for the stuff that matters, like being present with my kids, like writing, like hearing Jesus’ voice, like preparing articles and sermons and organizing my freelance career.

So clearly I’m still working on it, but I’m going to remember that reclaiming my time is blessed.

I’m going to leave you with Jesus’ words about time, from the Gospel of John, Chapter 7. His disciples were trying to get him to go to this church party, the Festival of Booths (aka Feast of Tabernacles), and Jesus did not want to go. Even though he was expected to go and everyone would be really disappointed if he didn’t. And they’d probably post pictures on Facebook and everyone would be all: Where was Jesus?

He was totally not being available, which you’d think the Savior would be. But he also had the fortune of being a relatively privileged man, so his disciples finally said OK instead of guilting him into it and calling him lazy and checking all his plastics for BPA.

This is all Jesus said:

“Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.”

Jesus knew he had to claim his time. He knew God had an incredibly difficult and heavy task for him ahead, a task that would save the world, and so he had to ration his time and claim it for what mattered and what he could handle.

Jesus knew the importance of timing. That when you did things mattered just as much as how you did them.

And Jesus, fully God and fully human, loved himself enough to grant himself time. To view himself as intrinsically valuable enough to take up time and space.

Jesus today says this to you. You too are intrinsically valuable: valuable simply because you are, not because of what you do or who you help or who you love — but because you are. This love enables you to love and to care and to do all that you are called to do. But to live the life that God intends for you: you must reclaim your time.

This article was adapted from Angela’s new blog

About The Author


Angela Denker is a Lutheran pastor and veteran journalist. She's written for many publications, including Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, and Sojourners. She is the author of "Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donald Trump" (Fortress Press).

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