Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Margin

Chapter 6 of James Bryan Smith's book, The Good and Beautiful God, is about the holiness of God. It was an incredible chapter contrasting the difference between God's love and God's wrath. God IS love; but he is NOT wrath. He HAS wrath - towards sin. There's a difference. I could go on and on about that, but I wanted to point out the 'soul training' exercise at the end of this chapter.

He borrows from Dr. Richard Swenson and his book called Margin. As he says, Margin refers to the space on the edge of a page where there is no text. Swenson believes our lives lack margin, or, in other words, there is no space for leisure and rest and family and God and health (the page is filled with text, as many of our lives are filled with business).

He shares this tidbit from Swenson's book:
The conditions of modern-day living devour margin... Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor's office because you were twenty minutes late out of the hairdresser's because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station - and you forgot your purse.

Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.

Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time; margin is Grandma taking the baby for the afternoon.

Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift; margin is a friend to carry half the burden.

Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress; margin is having time to read it twice.

I think you can get the idea. A lot of people lack not only in physical health, but also spiritual health, because of not enough margin in our lives. We are simply too busy. And the answer seems to be... Just say no. Say no to those things that are not necessary to the well-being of your soul or the welfare of others. Of course this doesn't usually mean choosing between good things versus bad things. It is mostly about good things versus good things. And it also doesn't mean there won't be times when we do need to give a little extra. But in general, if we have a pattern of marginlessness in our lives, we're not going to be very healthy - and that's not going to be good for anybody.

So... how about you? How do the margins look in your life? Is there anything you need to cut out, or cut back on?

I thought it interesting that he gave an example of a young couple who were dating, but who were also busy with school and work and various other things. There didn't appear to be anyplace to cut back without quiting something. But instead they decided to give up a couple of nights of "being togeher" with each other. It turned out to not only give them the extra time they needed, but also helped deepen their relationship. Not that I'm suggesting this for everyone, but I think many people feel there just isn't any place they can cut back... when perhaps we may just need to be open to some possibilities we had not thought of.

At any rate, may the margins be with you.

Peace out; and in.