I remember the first time Cadence, my profoundly autistic daughter, wrote her name completely on her own. She was about 10 years old and time stood still in that moment. We had been working on that for years. Since that monumental day, her name writing has become a regular part of her life. She writes it for fun, she can sign a birthday card for a family member, she has even signed her name at the doctor’s office. Cadence, however, has a “go big or go home” approach to writing her name. She is going to fill up ALL the space. If she runs out of space, not to worry, she just writes the letters on top of each other all over the margin. The letters get smaller and smaller as she gets closer to the edge. If she had 8 feet of paper, she would still run out of room at the end.
I’ve watched this for years and recently it hit me that my life is often like Cadence’s name…no more margin. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Your life is jam packed and full and busy. Usually full of good things, but full, nonetheless. Unfortunately, our lives can sometimes be so full that we take our responsibilities, activities and work load all the way to the edge, leaving no cushion or margin.
When my life is lacking margin then that usually means I hit the ground running in the morning and don’t stop until I collapse in bed at night. So much to do! But like Cadence’s letters that get smaller and smaller as she runs out of room, I feel myself getting smaller and smaller too. When life is full of work and responsibility with no time to stop, read (actual books and articles and not just our mind numbing FB scroll) reflect, think, pray, study, laugh, relax, learn something new, or talk to a friend, then I think we forget who we really are. The real us. The truth is that the way we spend our time in the margins, the early mornings before the kids are up, a stolen hour in the middle of the day, lunch with our spouse or a friend, the end of the day when the work is done…those are the times when we find ourselves, renew ourselves, remember our strength, dream, reach for something more than the mundane.
Unfortunately we often start BIG like Cadence, instead of pacing ourselves so we don’t run out of room in our lives. We over commit, take on too much and before we know it we are all the way to the edge and that makes us edgy, tired, irritable, frustrated or angry, feeling trapped and without options.
So take a look at the big picture and see if there are any margins in your life. How can you build some margins in? Is it time to dream again, try something new, spend some time with friends, spend some time reading a good book that challenges your mind, find yourself?
Maybe take a class, get an audio book or Bible so you make the most of your drive time. Listen to a podcast, call someone and invite them to lunch. Follow a dream. Pace yourself.
Leave a little room for life and enjoy living.