How [Not] to Waste Time

Recently I was spending some quality time with my friend Kaitlyn and her 14-month-old son Becket. We had finished dinner and were sprawled on the floor among Becket’s toys.  He was ignoring his toys and climbing the furniture.

Out of the blue, Kaitlyn remarked, “One thing I now realize is how much time I wasted as a single person.  What was I doing?”

Now that her every moment belongs to lovable little “B” (who was at that moment lumbering across the sofa), Kaitlyn’s perspective on time had changed.

Hm.  How do I spend my time?

This calls for a pie chart:

 Well [fold arms across chest], that doesn’t look so bad.  Work is a large portion of my life, but it rarely feels like work.  Food and music are my joie de vivre.  Most teachers succumb to a mindless hour of TV.  I don’t waste much time.

But is this chart completely accurate?  If I’m honest, I know some true time-wasters pervade my everyday activities, such as:

 And there are other pieces of the pie that are noticeably absent, like:

 Finally, the ever-present question: why, when I know the Lord, do I not spend more time with him?

Time is the easiest gift to squander.  As a single person I have an abundance of time to spend at my discretion. My married friends envy me.

Yet so often, I wish I could more deeply share this time. I remember how playful and energetic my parents were in their twenties; this is something I hope to give my children.  I want to share the joys and sorrows of life with my spouse.  I miss him at Christmas, though I do not yet know him.  I wish he could have known my grandpa.

What I wouldn’t give to slice up my pie chart differently.  What I wouldn’t give to have someone with whom to sing, with whom to eat all the cooking experiments.  What I wouldn’t give to replace that ‘work’ category on my pie chart with terrible, awful things like changing poopy diapers, finding smashed grapes behind couch cushions, cleaning baby barf out of my favorite clothes, or throwing a tantrum because I can’t handle it all.  To me, that pie chart would be in the shape of a heart.

Yes, married friends.  The grass is greener, greener, greener on the other side.

This being said, probably the worst thing I could spend time doing now is dwelling on what I don’t have. This doesn’t bring peace.

What does bring peace is the knowledge that my desires are real, and they speak to a promise, a plan that God knows fully.  Even now, I am preparing for my vocation, as Christ spent many quiet years in Nazareth before trading carpentry for public ministry.

I am reminded of a friend’s soothing quote, “God doesn’t waste time.”  In this time, now, I am loving.  I am giving.  I am being called.   I might waste time, but God doesn’t.

With this in mind, I’ll savor every piece of the pie.

Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at

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  • Veronica

    I love your view of preparing for vocation as Jesus spent time in Carpentry before he entered his. I pray for my future mate and I pray God blesses him with all that he needs to deal with me. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

  • Jane, this is so sweet and good.  Sometimes (read: often) I forget to revel in the joy of the poop and the crumbs and the clean clothes that someone keeps putting back in the dirty laundry because it’s easier than actually putting them away.  I forget.  Today I won’t forget!

  • Jane

    Thanks Dwija!  All the best, you have the toughest job on earth.

  • Jane

    Thanks for reading, Veronica.  Prayers to you.

  • You’ve captured my feelings and tied them into pretty words. It is a pleasant realization to know you’re not alone- thanks for writing with such optimism and hope.

  • As a former teacher, I can tell you nothing that you probably don’t already know:  you are being a spiritual mother to so many of the students entrusted to your care, it would make Mrs. Duggar envious.  When, years ago, I finally got a Facebook account, I was astounded by how many former students sought me out and wanted to reestablish some sort of connection with me.  Floored.
    You are planting seeds far and wide, and they’ll come to fruit in God’s time.

  • Jane

    Thanks Cari,

    Thankfully I love my job, and it’s really special to be part of each of my students’ lives, especially at a time when they are seeking a mentor or role model outside the family.  That being said, the grass sure looks green…

    …it’s one thing to be happy exactly where one is, it’s another thing, I think, to recognize that even in the midst of that (no matter the state in life) a desire still persists.

  • Jane


    I’m glad I captured a feeling you share, and that you find some fellowship in it!  Prayers for you.