When I was a little kid and first learning to write, I didn’t understand the concept of margins very well. Given a blank sheet of paper I would just start writing at the very top, go all the way from one edge to the other and run my words together in a long, messy line. I guess I was so excited about all these great words I was learning to write that I wanted to jam in as many as possible before my paper ran out. Unfortunately, the result was a page that was jumbled, confusing, and pretty much impossible to read. It was a mistake I made because I hadn’t yet learned to write on a page. Someone had to teach me to leave some space at the top before I got started, then start slowly filling the free space in with the important stuff on the corners like name and date. After all that spacing, I could move on to a fuller line. However, I still needed to leave room beyond the lines on each edge and make spaces the width of my forefinger between each individual word. Once I learned to write with spaces in the margins and between each word my words were much easier to read and understand.
Sometimes I feel like I need to back to elementary school, but this time to learn about leaving margins in my life. There are days when I get so excited (or anxious) about what is going on in my life that I just start right off with a bang and keep running until I have clear run out of room for anything else. And the result is about as jumbled and confusing as my kindergarten writing. Don’t get me wrong, each individual activity or event is on my life’s page because it was a good thing to do. It is important and necessary for me to work, to spend time with friends, to care for my family, and to worship and serve God. It’s just that those things need to be spaced out a bit to be properly enjoyed. Like moving from our center, I think this is another way we are designed by God. God gave us boundaries like day and night, seasons, and Sabbath so that we would learn to stretch things out enough that we’d have some room in life. For if we don’t there are consequences to pay.
I’ve learned and re-learned this lesson the hard way. Some of us need more margin in life than others, and as a strong introvert I need quite a bit of space in my day and week. Even if the blank spaces of my life are filled in with many, many good things, then there still bound to be a meltdown on the horizon. Patience gets short, tempers get hot, and words are said that will soon be regretted. Because sometimes what we need is just a little space in our lives. Even if that means choosing not to do a normally fun thing or choosing to let go of something we felt we had to do. Because margin makes everything clearer, crisper. It makes the words that we put on our page more pleasant to read, easier to understand, and ultimately more meaningful.
So as we begin a new week, lets remember to leave a little room for margin. What’s your favorite time or way to make space in your day?