When I was first able to write, I remember clearly looking at the empty page in my first journal with a little gold lock and key. I had thoughts and plans for what I was going to do to it! I looked it over and decided the right thing was to start at the very top edge and write to fill in every white space. I’ve never liked white space. I feel that it is just begging for color, or in the case of paper, words. My first little journal was plastered with words and I left no white space whatsoever. I was satisfied.
Imagine my dismay when the teachers in school said I had to leave margins. I obeyed, but with a terrible grudge and attitude about it.
Now that I am much older my blank page is what I get when I wake up each morning. Guess what? I still fill in every inch of white before I fall into bed. The teachers who insisted there must be margin could make me do it on the paper, but not with my life. Last night at eight o’clock I was checking out at Costco with the second load of food for this week, and the lady smiled and said, “is your day over now?” I laughed. I thought when have I ever gone to bed and believed my day was over? And truth is I would rather be over busy so there is spill into the next day, than accomplish everything by five o’clock and waste the evening with mindless activity.
But I still need to make sure I get some margin in my life or everything will break down: relationships, health, home, and even my faith. No margin must literally be what the bible means when we give the devil a foothold in our life.
My margin begins Friday night when Craig and I take our weekly date to start up our weekend and closeout the week. I try to stay off my computer from Friday to Sunday. I relax at home, with the kids and let the house go on the weekend. A messy house was quite an obstacle for me to overcome. But I find I don’t resent everyone for the mess anymore, and I can shift my focus from the condition of my counters and sink to the smiles on my kid’s faces.
Finally, the best margin maker I have in my daily life is going to the barn. On the drive out into the country I listen to sermons from our church in Scottsdale. I pray and release the things that upset me into the hands of God. Then when I arrive at the barn the quiet calm country atmosphere is a nice hello. I am making new friends at the new barn, Gwinny is happy, and the time I spend with her allows me much of the thinking and feeling time I need to understand myself and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
The good thing about a horse is that when I’m feeling really down the hugs I can wrap around her neck are wonderful. She is my friend. We have developed a strong devoted bond these past five months. She mirrors my emotions. If I get on her back tense and uptight, she and I will struggle in our ride. So I take the time grooming her to calm down, break away from the stress of life, and center myself so we can have some fun together. It is a very good indicator of how calm I am all the way through to the secret places in my heart. She can sense those and she holds up that mirror.
After a ride with her the drive home is a great time for me to talk to God about things that are on my mind. I have a running conversation going with God all day long, but focused talk is what I seek.
When problems feel like big storms and it seems I can’t find margin from them, that is exactly the time I need to step away and have a break. It is much harder when something consumes me to give it to God than those things I feel I can control. I am learning to let go.
Friends of Craig’s tease him because he is a horse owner. They are laughing watching all the expenses pile into that corner. My response is, it is much less expensive than a psychologist. And Craig appreciates what the barn does for my whole self. It’s a workout, and there’s emotional bonding, and it’s also a mental challenge to learn to ride well. Mind- body -soul….and horse poop.
Keeping a Sabbath day is a way to keep margin in my life. I am mostly certain it wasn’t because God was tired that he rested on the seventh day. He was giving us an example of how to structure our lives. Identify what work is, and don’t do it one day a week. It is that simple. Then dedicate that day to prayer and play. Do what is fun. Engage in important relationships. Mostly I value remembering who God is, and where that puts me…small…stooped…submissive…soft…secure…safe.
I might still fill pages with words but I am learning to put margin into my life, daily, and weekly. As a former over achiever I’d say it’s my great pleasure to announce I am learning to be an under achiever!