When I ask about the greatest challenges in relationships, couples often answer me with: trust, loyalty, financial stability, acceptance, and so on.
But I have been searching for answers that might solve the only great evil that my boyfriend and I suffer from.
Thankfully, there’s never been an issue of trust, loyalty, or acceptance. Nothing has impacted our relationship from within. We live in perfect harmony, accepting each other’s flaws and just generally loving the full package.
The problem is that we were born in Lebanon, and as much as God knows how deep our love for our country goes, nothing’s been easy since the first day we dived into this life together.
As far as it goes, we hold each other’s hands, fill each other up with positive energy, love each other unconditionally, and strengthen one another in the face of all the challenges.
I clearly remember one hot summer day, a few weeks ago; my boyfriend and I were cruising on the road—mindfully aware that we might not be able to fill up the gas we were spending just driving without a destination because of the fuel shortage—and my eyes wandered over his calm face.
I thought to myself that this person has been soldiering on for so long, and just when we thought things were getting a little bit better for us so we can take the step forward, every possible crisis blew up in the country and in our face.
The fuel shortage and endless lines of cars at gas stations became a reality.
The inflation rate was getting worse, and employees’ salaries were worth nothing.
The electricity kept going out, and even generator owners couldn’t get enough fuel to turn their generators on.
The prices of products in the market became ridiculously expensive.
And people were not sticking to the government’s regulations regarding safety measures against COVID-19.
It just wasn’t fair.
And yet, he was smiling and holding my hand and joking and laughing and tickling me. And, for being the impulsive me who can’t keep anything to herself and has to share absolutely everything with him, I said: “Why can’t it be easy for us? It’s been easy for almost everyone around us.”
Then he answered me with a cheeky smile, “We have everything working in our favor, except one thing…time. And since this is not something that we can control, wasting our energy being anxious about it will only lead to burnout. So let’s just enjoy the moment. We’re doing everything we can, and the rest is in the hands of God.”
I thought about it long and hard. He was right. But this wasn’t enough to put my chaotic brain into order.
Then, a few days ago, my friend texts me, and during our conversation, he brings up something that kept me thinking for a while. He casually mentioned his fascination with how the Greeks viewed time.
The Greeks had two different notions of time: Chronos and Kairos.
Chronos refers to chronological time. It is quantitative and is measured by the ticking of the clock. When we set our alarm at six in the morning and decide to go jogging for exactly an hour, so we would have time to take a shower and make it to the office, we are working with the Chronos. It helps us organize our lives and set efficient deadlines.
Kairos is qualitative rather than quantitative. It has a spiritual depth that Chronos doesn’t possess. It helps us get lost in the moment instead of counting the minutes while doing something, hence, increasing our mindfulness. Imagine yourself lying on the sand at midnight, the cold waves softly brushing your toes, and you’re observing the many stars in the night sky. Imagine feeling so peaceful that you don’t notice an hour passing by. This is Kairos.
And so, in every relationship, time plays both the devil and the angel.
We can’t keep looking at time as a Chronos and forget to appreciate the Kairos. We must find balance to make use of both.
Setting deadlines is important. Time might pass us by without us noticing if we don’t discipline ourselves or set practical goals for ourselves and our partner.
But at the same time, we can’t get lost in the anxiousness of meeting the deadlines that we forget to enjoy the present moment, the Kairos.
I thought hard and deeply about both notions, and it’s been helping me put things into perspective. Becoming desperate to manipulate something that is beyond our control will only increase problems and our anxiety.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to do what we can and put the rest in God’s hands.
Plan your future if you want, but don’t get too engrossed in planning the future that you forget to appreciate the present.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ~ Mother Theresa