Can you imagine reading a book where the words went right out to the four edges of the paper? How unsettling that would be to try to read! The margin is there for a purpose.
Margin gives us space to hold the book comfortably. It gives us breathing room to take in all of the words. It provides an area for necessities, such as page numbers and chapter titles, reminding us where we are. Why, then, do we feel the need to cram our lives full by trying to accomplish everything that comes along and appears to need our attention, then guilt ourselves when we feel overwhelmed?
Dealing With Overload
If there is one thing I have come to realize, it’s that there will ALWAYS be need. You are needed, and that’s wonderful.
But, you do NOT need to fulfill every need that is requested of you.
Priority is crucial, and you’ve been given a job as mother and teacher of your children. You are also the maker of your home. Keep that pyramid of priority in view, so you can organize the requests into their proper place.
Your family is a ministry that has been given to YOU to serve! There will always be time to extend to other ministries when time truly frees up enough.
The Bible says that on day seven, He rested. Did God need sleep or even rest? Probably not, but I believe He did this as an example to us. He also only gave us 24 hours in a day, and from what I can gather, that ain't changin' any time soon!
Margin comes in many areas… How much time do we dedicate to visiting with friends and extended family? How many ministries, commitments, or programs do we participate in? How clean do we expect our houses to be?
I come from a house where my mother was a STICKLER for clean everything. She used to hang sheets to dry in the summer, …and iron them! She loved the smell of the outdoors and the pressed lines. That was fine for her, but I’m lucky if I get the sheets changed once a month.
And although dinner was always on the table at 5:30 and the kitchen fully scrubbed down within a half-hour after dinner, I consider it successful that we eat sometime before bedtime and the food is put away. The dishes may not always be completely taken care of, but we almost always eat together, and often with anyone who happens to be over at the time.
I had to pick and choose what battles to take on, just as I did with the children since they were toddlers. Like I mentioned before, there will only ever be 24 hours in the day, as long as we are on this earth, and spending them wisely is a challenge in itself.
One way to help keep track of schedules and events is with a planner. That way you can visualize how full your days are getting or where you have room to add things in. It also allows you to block off sections for quiet time or specific downtime.
There are many planners out there, but if you need a starting point to look at, I’ve always liked the planner that Gena Suarez at The Old Schoolhouse created.
Consider what is important to yourself and YOUR family, and once you’ve determined what you can truly handle, remember to add margin.
Do not embrace guilt in using the word “no,” or at the very least, “not at this time.” You (and your nerves... and most likely your family) will be thankful later!
Do you feel overwhelmed or suffer from overload? If you’d like to read more on margin, check out this book, written by a doctor who managed to build margin into his hectic life.