Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Wide Setting

Typically, when I type something up I set my margins to the "Narrow" setting. I want to fit as much as possible on one page and who cares if it looks like a crowded, unattractive manuscript? I've maximized space and I'm not wasting paper, right? This week it struck me that I really often live life the same way I write papers. Fit as much onto one page as possible and the margin size be darned.

As I've spent yet another week enjoying this sabbatical time, and finding myself in a period of self-discovery and hope that is quite probably unparalleled in my life, I've been reading about the margin. The idea that most of us create a life structure that has very little margin, very little space for leisure, rest, even family. I was driving through Richmond about a month ago on my way up to NY for a fundraising trip and as I passed the exits for my former home and my job, I felt this immediate rush of panic and a sense of deep worry that I had forgotten to do something. It was as if I had a hundred things on my list to do again and no time to do them. Needless to say, I put my foot to that pedal and drove faster than normal up 95 until I was safely out of reach of that marginless existence. Since then, I've been thinking a lot about it because right now I'm experiencing the total opposite. I'm on sabbatical, we haven't found a church yet which means I'm not yet overcomitted and my only weekly obligation besides driving my child to school is my painting class.

James Bryan Smith says that "we live in a culture that rewards busyness and overextension as signs of importance" and that lives without margins often become tired, lonely and joyless. Check. This was largely the state I found my soul in when I started this journey in August and as God slowly reveals to me what brought me to that point, I'm finding more and more hope that I don't have to stay there. For the first time in a long time, I can honestly say I do not feel stressed out. I'm well-rested, I'm enjoying a lot of time with family and find that I look forward to my many hours of reading and soul-searching, rather than avoiding time with a God I know will penetrate my rough exterior and ask me to change.

As we settle into a new church in the coming months and as my sabbatical comes to a close, I'm trying to figure out how to set my document to the "Wide" setting. To schedule my life only enough that I'm saying yes to those things that are "necessary to the well-being of my soul or the welfare of others" and being ruthless towards the other opportunities that will just crowd my paper. I know I have to do this and I know it will take tremendous strengthening from the Lord and honesty with myself. I know my tendency to say "yes" to everything and that sinful temptation to feel important the more filled up my schedule gets. Oh, that my words would not honor that marginless, "important" lifestyle and that my choices would reflect worship of a God who desires for me to live a life with margins, a life full of joy with a soul that is restored and verdant with new growth.


  1. I have just finished reading all your blog entries. What is soo God is the fact that we are both dealing with the some of same issues - the busyness,the pride, people -pleasing. I have questioned myself a lot lately - why is being who I am, a child of God, not enough. I so try to cut back on my schedule but the crises going on in my group are overwhelming for me. Admittedly though, I feel I have to be there for everyone, and if I am not, I am not doing my job as the life group leader. I wonder what would happen if i just stepped back - took my own sabbatical- regretfully, everytime recently I have wanted to just have time to myself, another crisis emerges. I did say no to going to a leaders conference this weekend and did not feel guilty which is progress. So I feel your blogs will help me in my current journey towards holiness, seeking to be more like the character of God and responding by doing what God has planned for me. There is a new song, at least to me, that i heard on the radio this week - don't know the name or the artist, but one of the lines is - 'He is God and I am not'. That does give me a sense of relief. Now all I have to do is let Him be God. Surrender! Giving up control! Easier said than done. With God all things are possible. We will both break through the wall with the Holy Spirit cheering us on, and providing the tools to reach the finish line - joy, contentment and peace. Thank you for letting me share your journey. God indeed has a plan. Love, Mom

  2. Wow, mom, thanks for sharing...I'm glad He's taking us through this at the same time, then...can't wait to see you this weekend!