What is Time?

Time has always been a mystery in the mind of man.  When our lives are going well, time seems to fly by.  When we are having challenges, time seems to stop or at least slowdown. There is a reason for this odd perception of time.

•        Time is metaphysical – an idea in our minds.
•        You cannot extract it from the universe.  It does not exist as a measurable entity.
•        Time, as kept by humankind is not time; it is time-interval: the accumulation of time intervals from some origin.  For example, the number of years A.D.; the number of days in a year; the number of hours in a day starting at midnight; the number of days in your life-time, etc.

Time Interval

The Official Definition of “time-interval,” is the length of the second.
In my lifetime the accuracy of “time-interval” has improved a billion-fold.  The earth speeds up or slows down every day by about 0.0001 of a second in the 86400 seconds that transpire in a day. That is about nine digits of accuracy.  Now the best atomic clocks have eighteen digits of accuracy.  That is like a second in the age ofa the universe as currently science believes it to be.  When scientists realized they could extract much more accurate “time-interval” from atomic clocks than could be obtained from any astronomical measurement, the second was redefined.

This new definition states: “The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom.” (13th CGPM (1967), Resolution 1)

Since most of my readers are not from a scientific background, you may not have understood the “new definition”. You are probably wondering how all this relates to you. The bottom line is, in the grand scheme of things, our personal “Time Interval” is very short. We all face the experience of death, some sooner than others.  Our big personal question is how well have we used our time-interval here on earth?

Six Death Bed Regrets

There are several lists of “Death Bed Regrets” taken from nurses or caretakers that have been present for the deaths of dozens of people. There were six regrets that were expressed over and over again.

1.  “Not Trusting that voice in the back of my head more.”  “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself.”
For many people, ignoring their instincts, or the decision not to listen to their gut feelings comes back as a major regret later in life. So many do not recognize where these feelings come from, let alone have the confidence to follow their intuitive feelings.  We know from the scriptures that is the light of Christ. (John 1:8)

Solution: Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 2:17 –  And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit and it came to pass that he believed in my words.

Solution: Book of Mormon: Alma 5: 46 –  And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit, and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

2.  “Not staying in touch with family and friends and resolving family estrangement. “
There are many deep regrets about not giving family and friendships the time and effort that they deserved. The desire for close companionship at death is just as prominent as it was during the height of youth. The lack of reconciliation with those who have become estranged has a great impact at the time of death.

Everyone misses their family and friends when they are dying. Forgiving others and receiving forgiveness is important. Reconciliation is a heartfelt decision and with some effort, it can happen quickly.

Solution: Book of Mormon: Moroni 6:8 –  But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent they were forgiven.

Solution: New Testament: 3 John 1:14 –  But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet thy friends by name.

Solution: Book of Mormon: Mosiah 23:15  – Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them.

3. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” “I wish I had paid more attention to my family when I was home. 
The expense of personal family life is one of the most commonly-cited regrets among the dying. Looking back at their lives, few people ever say, “I wish I had spent more Saturdays at the office.” However, just because you’re physically present with your partner, kids, and friends doesn’t mean you’re emotionally there. Not being fully attentive or neglecting to tell family members that you love them is often a major regret later on in life.

Solution: Doctrine and Covenants 42:22 – Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

Solution: New Testament: Ephesians 3:17 –  That Christ dwells in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and ground in love…

4. “Not Doing More to Maintain Physical Wellbeing.”

Many regret not taking better care of their health, particularly in terms of their food choices. Diet is directly responsible for approximately 678,000 deaths in the United States alone each year. Often, the benefits of eating a healthy diet and regular exercise are realized too late. The burden of chronic disease can make life miserable during the aging process.  Good nutrition and exercise are important.

Solution: Doctrine and Covenants 89: 11 – Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

Solution: Doctrine and Covenants 89: 12 –  Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the flows of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man and with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly.

5.  “Not Doing More For Others.”

A little selfless concern for the well-being of others can go a long way when it comes to avoiding regret later in life. The results from the Allianz survey suggest that more than a fifth of people would prioritize volunteering if they had more time. Knowing that you made someone happy in their lifetime can make anyone feel good. Knowing that you were unkind to someone and didn’t take the steps necessary to fix it is a major source of regret for most people.

Solution: Book of Mormon 3 Nephi  – 12: 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Solution: New Testament 2 Peter 1: 7 –  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Solution: New Testament Matt 25: 40  – And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

6.  “I Wish I Would Have Had the Courage to Express My Feelings”
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep the peace or not offend others. We often fear that expressing our own deep feelings and experiences will be viewed as weak, a know it all, or self-righteous. However, it is the way we express our feelings that make all the difference in the way it is received. Knowing you could have made a difference in someone’s life simply by just humbly speaking up and sharing your feelings and experience  seems to be a source of regret.

Solution: Acts 5:32 – And we are his witness of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, who God hath given to them that obey him.

Solution: Luke 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

Solution: New Testament: Acts 26: 16 But rise, and stand upon they feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which ye have seen, and those things in which I will appear unto thee.

How Are We Using Our Personal “Time-Interval”

It behooves each of us to examine our own personal “Time Interval” on this earth in relationship to what is really important, not only for this lifetime but the eternities.

I was surprised at how many “Death Bed Regrets” focused on relationships.  I quote the definition of time given by my dear friend, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Chauncey Riddle, who wrote the foreword for my book: It’s About Time. He said, “Time seems to be the possibility of change.”

Deciding to make the necessary changes to enhance, embellish or renew relationships during our short “Time Interval” is the first step in preventing or reducing regret later on.

When we focus on our perfect exemplar, Jesus Christ, change in this short lifetime is possible with repentance and forgiveness of others and ourselves.  That change will bring us to the greatest of all the gifts of God: Eternal Life! There is not a better “Time-Interval” plan than when we come to understand and implement His plan. It fills our souls with JOY!

God’s Time

God’s time is one eternal round with no beginning and no end. “As we study God’s time, it will help us know what the future holds and why God created the Earth in the first place as well.”  In one verse, Jesus summarizes what should be our priority with our “time-interval” here on earth: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”   Notice it is an internal and external prioritization.  Externally, you help Him build the kingdom by helping to bring souls to Him.  Internally, you fully receive the Christ into you personal life.  He only can and will perfect you and bring you the fullness of joy you seek.

David W. Allan