Do you leave room in your life for the unexpected? Or…. Do you schedule your life so tightly that any bump in the road completely disrupts your equilibrium?
How about implementing margin into your life? Leave white space around the edges of your paper. Allow space for writing thoughts and reflections.
Margin is defined by the distance between ourselves and our limits. What is your limit? The point when you are completely overwhelmed, those pesky recurring dreams revisit your sleep, and tears are ready to spring to life at any moment.
Everyone is different. It is difficult to determine how much is too much. Sometimes the only way to figure it out is to occasionally exceed our limits. Hopefully, we learn quickly.
Many of us deal with increasing anxiety and health problems due in large part to the complete disregard of healthy margins. It takes courage and strength to set appropriate boundaries for ourselves and families. Other people may not understand. Especially those who disregard their own need for margins.
We don’t want to appear weak or unwilling to help, but we sacrifice the health of our psyche and the health of our families when we are unwilling to say “no”.
God commanded the Israelites to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” God set margins for his people in the Old Testament. Shouldn’t we heed his wisdom? Rest. We need rest. God rested.
When we push ourselves and our families beyond healthy limits, we are helping no one. When we cram our days and nights with stuff to do and places to go, we are likely to miss the joys of the day and are unavailable to respond spontaneously to needs we see around us. (a friend who needs to talk, a husband who needs our help, a child who needs attention, a neighbor who needs a meal)
I remember at one juncture in our lives when I said, “Okay. I can do that (I don’t remember what it was), but I will have to increase my meds. ” And I meant it. That was the only way I could see being able to cope with all of the demands of my day.
I decided against increasing my meds and said “no” instead.
There is something wrong, when medication is required to keep our pace up. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful that I live in a day and age where medicine is available to me. I’ve used it when needed, but the root cause of anxiety needs to be dealt with for our sake and our children’s sake.
Lack of margins in our life can be a contributing factor to debilitating anxiety. There are other factors, like spiritual drought and health issues, but lives crammed full of busyness is one of those factors.
Long term, I want to be able to cope with the pace I have set. I have set the pace. I can’t do everything, so I don’t.
I try to discover, through prayers for wisdom and guidance, where there is a need, what I do well, where is my passion and concentrate on those areas.
I try to leave margins that may be used up in an emergency (remember the Sabbath story..if your donkey falls in a ditch on the Sabbath, you get it out), but healthy margins can be recaptured over time.
This is not something I have mastered, but I am working on it.
Anxiety sometimes just hovers around inside my head looking for a concern on which to land like a fruitfly looking for the fruit.
How about you? Do you deal with an extra measure of anxiety?
As I read this entry, the first thing that popped into my mind is the battle I sometimes have with students (usually freshmen) over margins–the literal kind. I prescribe one-inch all-round and they take liberties, adding a little white space on the sides, a tad extra at the top and bottom, hoping I won’t notice. And, of course, what they’re doing is allowing themselves more margin in your sense of the word–attempting to reallocate time–more to do what they want to do (usually socializing and sleeping) and less to work on what they’ve been assigned.
Isn’t it funny? The young allow themselves too much margin, those of us a little older 🙂 not nearly enough.
We all need to learn balance. Great post.
The comparison between actual use of margins in school work and our lives is intriguing. I remember margins being a life saver at times in my academic career! We could probably milk this analogy for a good while!
I want to know where you got that picture of me! Ha Ha
Shannon, you made me laugh!