Over the past several months, I’ve been hearing (from many different sources) a lot of talk about it. The first time I heard it, something resonated in me about it, and I thought, “That would be great to have!” Now, after hearing about it repeatedly for some time now, I finally get what God has been trying to tell me…. “Kit, you NEED this in your life!”
So what am I talking about? Some call it “space”, or “wiggle room”, or “reserve”. I call it “margin”. So what is it? Maybe it is easier to define by saying what it is not.
What’s the opposite of a life with margin? Living life on the edge. Living from paycheck to paycheck. Giving yourself just enough time to get “it” done. Waiting until the last minute. Not allowing for unexpected emergencies or situations that will inevitably arise.
A margin-less life is chaotic and stressful. It’s manageable for a time, but eventually it becomes overwhelming. In my life, it happened so gradually, that I didn’t realize it until I’d almost reached my breaking point (physically, financially & spiritually).
I’ve been blogging now for a few weeks about my quest to get healthier through a lifestyle change (healthier eating and regular exercise). Being more fit, better rested and even more disciplined is creating margin for my health. However, that is only part of the “bigger picture” that I am talking about here. I am finding that this idea of margin truly applies to every area of our lives. Health, finances, time management, relationships, and even our homes need margin.
So what does margin look like? It may be a little different for everyone. Maybe it’s money in a savings account for unexpected bills. A couple of “quick meals” on hand for busy evenings. Having less clutter in the house. Giving yourself an extra 5-10 minutes….for everything. Going to bed early, or sleeping in from time to time. These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Leave room for things you haven’t planned on. After pondering this for some time, I have realized that most of my stress comes as a result of a lack of margin in one area or another of my life.
Another huge benefit of having margin in your life is that it positions you to be a blessing to others. Many times I have heard of someone in need, and I genuinely wanted to help, but couldn’t. Either I didn’t have the money or time to spare, or I was just too worn out from my own problems to be there for them. Having margin opens the door for us to be “salt and light” to the world.
Now, I would love to tell you how much better my life has become with added margin. I’d love to tell you that my stress level is down, that I’m much happier, and that I’m on time everywhere I go. I’d love to tell you about all the people I’ve been able to help through my new found freedom, but I can’t…at least not yet.
I believe with all my heart that those things and more are the result of a life with margin. The truth is though, that I am just beginning this journey myself, and just like losing weight or getting in shape, it takes time. It also costs you something. I am finding that I will have to cut some things out of my life that I am certain right now I need. I will have to say “No” to some things I want to have or do. I am having to re-prioritize much of my personal and professional life to achieve margin. It is difficult. It is painful. It is worth it.
So how about it? Does your life have margin? If so, how did you get there? If not, what are you doing about it?