Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

This Thing All Things Devours

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I love the riddle section of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. (Affiliate link.)

During the epic battle of wits, Gollum offers this riddle for Bilbo’s consideration.

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountains down.

The answer, of course, is time.

The Regrets of the Dying

I was listening to a series by Andy Stanley recently about creating breathing room in our lives. The specific areas he addresses include relationships, money, and time.

He quoted a book by Bronnie Ware titled, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. (Affiliate link.) Ware worked in hospice and her job was to visit and help provide the needs for those who were terminally ill.

Her job was to help people die.

An important part of her job was listening. And when we are dying, we talk about our regrets. Everyone does it. Everyone will. I remember my father doing it.

Catching a glimpse into the lives of so many, Ware noticed a pattern, and made a list of the top 5 regrets to help us avoid them.

Number 2 on her list was, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

She explains that most wished they had used their time differently. Instead of merely existing in the “treadmill of their job,” they wished they had taken time to enjoy better, more important things. Family. Spouses. Hobbies. Life itself.

They wished they had used their time differently.

You are Running Out of Time

My goal isn’t to scare you. I only want to remind you of something we all forget. A truth we avoid. But when remembered, it becomes a powerful motivation to change how we live our stories.

No matter what we do, no matter the advances in science regarding aging, no matter how many vitamins we take, no matter how much we exercise, no matter how many vegetables we eat, everyone of us will die.

Stanley’s point isn’t to create dread, but to help us all to value and make good use of this limited resource.

Even the tallest mountains or the hardest metals or the mightiest kings are unable to defeat time. (Tweet that.)

Numbering Your Days

Our lives are like an egg timer. The sand is always falling, filling the bottom and emptying the top. When each grain makes this journey, it cannot be replaced. And one day the sand will stop. The grains will run out. Our time will end.

But the point is that it hasn’t yet. There is still sand in the top. There is still time. We do have today.

To make the most of our remaining time we have to ask ourselves hard questions. And we have to be honest with our answers.

  • When time runs out, what will you wish you had done?
  • Who will you wish you had spent more time with?
  • What do you truly want to accomplish with your life?
  • What will stop mattering the moment we breath our last?
  • What in our lives, will matter forever?

Your answers will tell you what is important in life. They will give you a vision for what you need to be doing.

Then we can begin managing our time to take steps towards our vision. Maybe the first steps are small. Maybe the changes don’t look like much today.

But with time, they can add up to something more.

What helps you to remember what matters most in life?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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16 Replies

  1. I keep a rock that my daughter painted for me for Father’s Day when she was four. I have a note from my son telling me that I am the best dad in the world. Those two things help me keep perspective.

  2. Great questions, Jeremy. One on one time with my son always reminds me of what is important. I never regret that choice. It’s weird how often I have attitude/perspective adjustments when he asks that I stop what I am doing and we have a pillow fight or wresting match. Then, I remember. And, it’s always time well spent. He and I cuddled last night and shared the ear buds on his iPod so we could listen to music together. It was the BEST part of my day.

    1. I bet it was. Your story makes me want to go home and cuddle right now.

  3. Great post. I have learned this lesson from friends and loved ones who have lost their lives too early. Such a great reminder!

    1. I’m glad it was encouraging, Tammy.

  4. DDF

    Jeremy, you are like an old an Kentucky black lab with a bone in the way you keep asking great questions, pushing me to live a better life, driving me crazy just when I think you’re about to back off for a day or so and give me a breather. But oh no, not Jeremy Statton. That boy ain’t backing off for nothing. Not in this life. … And I love it, buddy. So keep writing. Keep pushing yourself and us to live a better life. Great stuff. May your writing skills and creative mind increase, more and more — for the sake of God’s Kingdom. (Is that last sentence too over the top? I hope not because you have a good gift, Jeremy!)

    1. I’m glad you didn’t compare me to a pit bull. Labs are nice dogs.

  5. Jodi Schumm

    Watching my young boys sleep remind me of how quickly time passes and what matters most.

    1. My oldest son turns 13 tomorrow. It is crazy how quickly it passes.

  6. Others help remind me of what matters. Serving others reminds me of what matters. Holding my children in my arms reminds me. Having my wife and children tell me about their day reminds me. Scripture reminds me.

  7. Stacie Robertson

    This post really puts a lot of things in perspective for me, Jeremy! So often we lose track of what life is really about, and before we know it too much time had passed and we live with regret of what could have been!

  8. I have to say in the last few months I’ve thought a lot about this. My mom was diagnosed with cancer right after Thanksgiving and we’ve had the kind of conversations you can only have when time shifts shape in the light of illness. Thankfully she is responding well to treatment and I don’t foresee losing her in the near future. I think she and I have both gained a sense of urgency to live with purpose. Our prayers, conversations, relationships, and the beauty of life have all become more precious. I still struggle with being fully present with my children. I work hard at what matters most to me and often I find that during the day that work has not revolved around them. But I’m learning to be interuptable and more available for them.

  9. Daniel Davenport

    Jeremy our days are numbered on this earth. I am a craftsman so this eyeopening action that an old man showed me while learning my trade always helps to put things in perspective. He told me that the average male in the US lives to 76 he rolled out a tape measure to 76 inches and told me to point out my age. He then pointed out his age and told me that he had wasted this much of his life overly concerned with things that don’t matter and told me not to make that same mistake. This always gives me a great prospective and a good visual of where I am in my life and the fact that I use a tape measure often it acts as a constant reminder of how to spend my time.

  10. annette skarin

    I remind myself that time is just a capsule in eternity. We are in eternity right now. Growth of all kinds; emotional, spiritual etc. is what I want to fill my capsule with. Reading your posts (and others) are one of the ways I learn to be wise with my time. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    1. I didn’t consider the irony of describing using your time well with an article that would demand time to read it. Thanks for the kind words Annette.

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