Here’s some of the common areas where we experience overload in life. We’re going to be looking at these in this series. We have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure. We’re stressed by information overload. We’ve stressed by accessibility overload. We’re connected all the time. We’re stressed by the pace of life, which we talked about last week.
What is the solution? The solution is to put some margin into your life. Margin is breathing room. Margin is a little reserve that you’re not using up. Margin is the space between my load and my limit. Hopefully your load is not heavier than your limits. But the truth is that most of us are far more overloaded than we should be and there is no margin, no margin for error in our lives.
Dr. Richard Swenson, a MD says this, “The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you’re homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you’re penniless we offer you food stamps. If you’re breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you’re marginless we give you one more thing to do. Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That’s marginless. Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of the staircase, money at the end of the month and sanity left over 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 having a friend carry half the burden. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is fatigue. Margin is energy. Marginless is red ink. Margin is black ink. Marginless is hurry. Margin is calm. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is reality. Margin is remedy. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure.
There are dozens of benefits that we can talk about that come into our life as we build some space between my load and my limits. Let’s take a quick look at at least four of them that immediately begin to happen in our lives. What happens when I build in a little margin?
1. I’ve got more peace of mind in my life. I’m not hurrying and worrying all the time. I have time to stop, to think, to relax, to enjoy, to smell the roses.
2. Better health. We all know that unrelenting stress harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue, day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margin in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens or does happen or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets until we make this decision? Margin builds in the time for better health.
3. Stronger relationships. There’s a lot of reasons for the collapse of the family in America today, but I say that one reason is we don’t have any margin in our lives. Amidst all the other things, even if you value family, we don’t have time to make it work. And because we don’t have time for one another we can’t build the relationship we’d like to have. The truth is relationships take time and margin provides the time to sit and talk. It provides the time to listen. The time to comfort someone who needs to be comforted, just to enjoy people, to play with your kids.
4. It makes you available for God to use. Available to God to use to make a difference in this world. When you’re overloaded, when you’ve got too much to do, you can only think of yourself. When you get overloaded you go into survival mode – “Maybe I can make it through but I’m not sure.” And if God does come and tap you on the shoulder and say, “I’d like you to do this. I can make a difference in your life through this,” your first response isn’t joy. Your first response is, “Oh, no! Another thing to do! God, I’d like to do that but I’m sorry! I’m just too busy.” So we end up resenting that great opportunity God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you’re available for God to use.
So for these reasons and so many others let’s put, and I say put because it won’t just happen, some margin in our lives. We have to make it happen. Let’s put some margin in our lives.
If you would like a little assistance on how to do that let me know. I have some ideas.