Imagine if when you are born, there is a predetermined amount of money deposited in a checking account with your name on it. And, from that day forward, a little is spent each day. Each day, you are required to spend your cash, maybe the things you buy are important, maybe they are not, but you never know when you will withdraw your last cent. How much more carefully would you handle your money? How much more thoughtfully would you weigh the risks and the benefits of each purchase? Bear in mind, you can never add to this account, only deduct, and only the One who deposited the funds knows how much is left in the account.

When we are born we receive a deposit of time into our lives. Each day we spend our time doing something, maybe it is important, maybe it is not. Nevertheless, time is spent. We can never add time to our “accounts”. We exercise, eat right, take vitamins, and what ever else we think will “add interest”, but when we have made our last transaction, our accounts here on Earth will close forever.

Arguably, time is the most precious commodity we have been given, yet for the majority of our lives, we spend more time stressing over how best to manage our money and waste years of our lives chasing careers and opportunities that promise more. We learn to invest, to diversify in an effort to maximize the dividends and earning potential of something that comes and goes while time seems to pass us by. This year I am determined to properly care for my most valuable asset: my time.

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I went home to Detroit for Christmas. Usually, trips home are exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So, we planned to stay a week instead of our usual two to ensure at least a week’s worth of rest before returning to work. Because I knew that it would be nearly impossible to spend the type of quality time I desired with my loved ones in a week, each day held critical importance. Not a minute was wasted. We strategically squeezed in more hugs, more “I Love Yous”, more “How have you been doings?”. Every day was important and each minute of every day was valuable.

Taking this kind of diligent approach to how I spent my time caused me to pay special attention to what really makes life worth living. For seven straight days, I was engulfed in love. I found myself in a perpetual state of repentance for how much I had taken for granted.  As a teen, I would write people off and out of my life. I was the girl who “didn’t need family”. I regret wasting those years, wasting so much Time. Now as a young woman with a family of my own, I realize that for better or worse your family is yours. I’ve grown to love and appreciate them for who they are which has caused me to long for them in a way I never have.

When it was time to go, my emotions swelled in my throat. Gratefulness at having the opportunity to visit pricked my heart. Fear of what would happen between now and the next visit churned in the pit of my stomach. Overwhelming love for people who have loved me for so long, even when I didn’t deserve it, burned in the tears that streamed from eyes. The pain on my sister’s face as she watched me settle behind the wheel caused these feelings inside me to tumble over one another, vying for my attention. Even my two-year nephew began to ball as we backed out of the driveway. It was as if he was the transmitter of all the emotions that seemed to bounce off every wall. Cousins and best friends lingered in a deserted bowling alley determined to get in just one more goodbye.  My mom bit back her tears in an attempt to be strong for the both of us. She has always forced herself to be stronger than any one person should ever have to be.

This time it hurt to leave. It hurt because I realized what I had missed out on for so long. What I had wasted, what I could have potentially lost. This year, I plan to invest my time. I want to send more letters, mail more gifts, answer more phone calls. For almost 30 years, I have lived as if my time bank would never deplete, as if my family and friends are promised tomorrow. That’s simply not true. I want to live a passionately unhurried life where right now, right this second, is just as meaningful as what the “future” promises. I want to make my “now” count. I want to spend my time wisely and thoughtfully. And, I want to spend it with who matters most: you. I want to make my time count. Every. Last. Cent.