Friday, October 23, 2009

Well Spent

“We prayed that we’d be well spent,” my friend said, by way of explanation. She was twelve hours off a flight from a third world country when she walked into our Sunday morning Bible Fellowship group. Eyes heavy, color slightly grey, her prayer was clearly answered—and it was beautiful.

To be well spent has been the goal of my life. I put an exorbitant amount of thought into the things in which I choose to invest. Partly, I am sure, as a byproduct of my hypochondria, I am continually aware of the brevity of life and determined to suck the marrow out of every moment. My preoccupation with the significance of time is mostly a good thing. It won’t allow me much in the idleness department, It demands that I have something to “show for myself” at the end of every day. It forces me to examine my goals and keeps my gaze focused upon them.

But like any side effect born of obsessive compulsive behavior (note for New Readers: I have struggled with moderate to severe hypochondria my entire life. It is currently under control) there is a tendency to over examine, to set the bar too high, to suffer from impossibly high expectations.

At the moment, I’m right smack in the middle of healthy introspection that could, at any given moment, make a wrong turn into a nasty neighborhood where nothing is ever quite good enough. Like most people stalled out at a cross roads, I’m listening to some good tunes. One song that I have been listening to a lot lately is Switchfoot’s “American Dream.” Its message, that the success and excess driven ideal for which we strive will never satisfy, is summarized in the chorus when Jon Foreman sings, “I want to live and die for bigger things.” I do, too. I just don’t seem to know what they are anymore.

When my kids were littler and needed me a lot more, I knew. When I was a youth minister, I knew. When I was in the thick of writing my YA novels, I knew.

Now? Now, I’m not really sure where to invest. Sure, I’m still “all in” with my family. It’s just that my kids aren’t at the point where they need most of my waking moments. My passion is still writing, but I’ve been living too long without a clear goal or focus, and that has to change.

Which brings me to the tiger at the top of this post. He’s not random—in fact, some of my Regular Readers probably recognize him. Tony is the official spokes tiger for resurrected dreams, second chances, and a book proposal I abandoned way before I should have.

It doesn’t take more than a passing glace to realize that Tony’s the poster cat for life well spent. In fact, he’s looking worse than ever, but I woke up yesterday and knew he was back and things are about to change. I’m not sure yet what this all means, but it’s Friday and I’m heading for the rainy mountains (sans any shelter save my van) and I think I’m going to spend some time praying for some wear and tear. I want to play so hard as to leave everything on whatever field my "bigger things" lie--whether that's a foreign mission field like the one from which my friend returned, some facet of the journalism field, or a grassy knoll where I paint en plain aire. I want to live with an abandon that’s as plain as the nose on Tony’s split face. I want to be Well Spent.

I'll be gone this weekend, but I will answer all comments when I come home--leave some love: post a comment; become a Follower :)


Kathleen said...

What a beautifully transparent post. And an inspiring one too!

I am a biiig hypochondriac also, and my husband responds in just about the same way. Surely my doctor tires of seeing me in her office to check the latest lump or pain as well. :(

Blessings on your time away this weekend; may it allow you time to find the inspiration and direction you seek!

And please do pass on info on your YA novels!!

Catherine Wannabe said...

Great. It works better when you are stable while I'm "introspective", and when I'm stable while you're "introspective". Both of us restless? NOT GOOD!

5thsister said...

I can relate, also. I'll have to blog about the time I spent agonizing and obsessing over daughter's health due to a healthcare scare/crisis (possible cystic fibrosis). It was only after finally "letting go" and "letting God" that her health improved tremendously.

Great blog. Hope you don't mind if I join your following.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Kathleen--Thanks SO much for your kind words. Glad also to know I'm not alone in my hypochondria...several posts in the archives about trips to my long suffering doctor LOL

Also, I sent you an email, but for anyone else who may be following the discussion--I'm pasting in links to my books on amazon, but I offer WAY better deals :)

Catherine--Did I really say I was stable?

Polly--Welcome!!! I'll be sure to see that post whenever you write it, because I'm following now, too!

Charisse and Holly said...

Amen! I'm right there with you. Feeling like I'm looking for something to pour myself into, but the things I'm looking at will take time that I'm worried about giving. So there I am on the sidelines...questioning. When the kids are still young, it can be hard to know when to put your toes in the pool and when to dive. Holly at

Liz in Virginia said...

This is so powerful and timely. On another blog I love (OMSH) she talks about a paradigm shift -- and whether or not this is a good thing. In my case its staring my oldest child's HS graduation in the face. Scary.

Thanks for visiting my blog -- come on back! -- And follwo me if you like!

Liz @

Anonymous said...

Wow. I find myself feeling the same way but without the hypochondria or needing to fill the times of nothingness. I think way too much (hence my last post) and need to sometimes just take a breath and let it be. I hope you have a great time and find what you are looking for.

Cori said...

wow... I know the feeling of needing to make every moment worth it. I've been called immature for that recently, but seeing grown, successful adults striving for the same thing means I'm not utterly lost.

BTW I do believe Switchfoot is one of the best lyrical bands in years.


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