Sometimes I feel as though I am spinning through the chaos of life and missing what really matters. Guilt ridden self-doubt; am I enjoying my kids enough or am I too busy to really embrace the special moments? I always attend the events, their sports games, the awards dinners, the drama performance; I put lots of planning and attention into every birthday party. But do I fully embrace their conversations, the times of laughter and “silly play”? Do I listen to their child-like sense of humour or spend enough time holding them and enjoying the warmth of their hugs? I worry that I will have regrets, that time will go by and I can’t turn it back again.
When my children were very young, I wrote a letter to my kids expressing my dreams and desires for them. The note was dripping with the desire for them to know God. Here is a small part of that letter:
“I commit to you that I will take my responsibilities to raise you to know God very seriously… I will be an example in your life, as you will see me pray to God, and continue to read and learn more of Him… My greatest desire is that God is very real to you in your life and that you feel his power, comfort and his love daily.”
So if this is what is really important to me, then why is it that when life gets busy, God is pushed aside? I justify in my mind that the events on my schedule have established times, and time with God is flexible, or can happen in prayer throughout the day (He’s always with me, and He can keep up!). Yet if I were honest, God is getting the small bits of time that I have left over.
I recall a message that I heard several years ago called “Life in the Margins.” The idea was that all the “good stuff” of life happens in the margins. Within a book, the great thoughts and ideas are scribbled in the margins. On a trip, the best times of conversation, relaxation, and enjoyment often happen on the way, before you even reach the destination. Living life in the margins means that extra time is built into your schedule to help avoid exhaustion and burn out. Living life in the margins means that when my kids have something to say, I have time to listen. Most of all, living life in the margins means that God isn’t pushed out.
Typically, if I am running 5 or 10 minutes early I think about something that I can accomplish in that extra 5 or 10 minute block of time. So how do I create margins in my life? It’s a choice. It’s not easy. You have to fight for it. Just like many things in life, scheduling, reclaiming time, adding space in my schedule, it’s all a choice.
This Lent season I decided to make the choice to live life with bigger margins. I have made the choice to reclaim my time with God as a top priority. He gets number one. That may seem logical and easy for some, but for me (someone who assesses the day according to the tasks that are accomplished) it is a conscious effort. I spend time with God at the beginning of my day. I call out to Him to help me create the margins, to create a life full of the “good stuff” that He wants me to embrace. I haven’t mastered the art of living in the margins yet, but I have found that as I do my best to prioritize God, my days somehow also have more space for family, for myself, and for all that good stuff I don’t want to miss out on.