Evaluating Exchanges

It came this morning — my first rejection notice.  “Thank you for taking the time to apply.  We are contacting you to let you know that the position has been filled.”  I should have kept every letter or email like this I have received over the years.  You can’t be addicted to applying for jobs without experiencing the rejection letter.  And, just like with parking tickets and library fines, I take rejection letters in stride.

I actually was not surprised by this one at all.  The position needed to be filled as soon as possible, and I recorded that I would be available starting January 5.  This letter didn’t sting.  Actually, it spurred me on to look for more openings and to put in more applications.  You know, improve my chances.  So, I checked all my usual spots for jobs, to no avail, and then said to myself, “OK, on to blogging.”

The fact is, as much as I am looking forward to finding a position, I know I will make an exchange when I am actually hired.  I will exchange availability for schedule.  I will exchange boredom for activity.  I will exchange rest for work.  I will exchange energy for pay.  It’s math, guys.  24 hours – 0 working hours = 24 Kristin hours.  Right now I spend each of those hours virtually as I please.  I sleep for 8-10 of them.  Yeah, I know — luxury.  I cook for 1.  I read for 1-2.  I exercise for 1-2.  I socialize for 1-2.  I do Bible study and blog for 1-2.  I rest for 1-2.  I clean or run errands for 1-2.  And pretty soon, my twenty-four hours is used up!

Now, one thing I know about math (besides the fact that I am lousy at teaching it) is that it is consistent.  It always works.  So, if I work for 4 hours a day and sleep for 10 hours a day, that leaves for 10 hours for everything else — exercise, cooking, cleaning, shopping, socializing, spending time with family (including my husband, of course), and resting.  That might work.  If I spend 8 hours a day working and 10 hours a day sleeping, I have six hours left for everything else.

Before I slowed down due to my physical limitations, I was spending about eleven hours a day with work-related activities — travel to and from work, actual time at school, grading and prepping, and extracurricular activities.  I started to realize that something needed to change when I would drive dazedly (I think that’s a word!) home from work, collapse onto my couch, and then crawl off to bed before I started the whole cycle again.  After all, 24 minus 11 hours at work minus 10 hours of sleep = enough time to shower, eat, switch one load of laundry, and respond gruntingly to the people I love the most.

I can’t go back to that. I would exchange too much.  I am not willing to trade time on the phone with a daughter or son for time in the car.  I am not willing to trade dinners with my husband for supervising a hallway.  I am not willing to trade time blogging for time grading papers.

But I think I am willing to trade a couple hours of Netflix for a couple hours in a library, or teaching a community college course, or editing a dissertation. I am willing to trade time spent hunting for jobs for doing an actual job. I am willing to let my husband cook dinner occasionally so that I can use my God-given gifts to connect with others.

I am close to the time when I will be ready to make an exchange. But I won’t trade time with my son who is coming home on leave next month. I won’t trade the Christmas holidays with my daughters who will both be here.  I won’t trade meeting my new granddaughter.  I won’t trade walks with my husband.  I won’t trade time re-connecting with Jesus.

This gift of time, of being still has allowed me to appreciate the value of time with those I love the most.  It’s worth more to me than any job, any title, any paycheck.

I won’t trade it for anything.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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