When I think about the word margin, I think of 7th grade typing. I think about that electric typewriter and the pursuit of perfect margins – not only left and right, but upper and lower. Back in the day before computers and word processing, there were rules, tab bars and counting spaces.
Over the past year and a half, this word has taken on a completely new meaning in the life of our family.
margin: (n.) an amount by which a thing is won or falls short.
This thing that is either won or falls short?
And it’s personal to us.
The Mr. and I choose a word every January 1 that we pray will lead and direct the year to come. Last year (2016) we chose two. One of them was “margin”.
If we were going to pursue incarnating (which was our other word) into our neighborhood, we needed to create margin in our life and schedule
For our family, that meant saying “no” to some good things in order to create room in our lives for best things. We stepped back from responsibilities to already churched people. We said “no” to obligation driven extras. We committed to a regular rhythm of rest.
What we discovered is that If you are already maxed out and can’t imagine taking time to invest in your neighborhood, you won’t.
Creating margin in the life of our family has allowed us less structured time. Less structured time allows us to sit on the porch a little longer, take a different route on our walk, babysit a single mom’s baby while she takes classes or invite a friend in for coffee at the end of a long day. The margin is where we build relationships.
I read an e-book a few years ago by Shauna Pilgreen called Live Sent: 31 Days in the City. In her book, Shauna shares about living in four quadrants: home, job, school/play and church. She suggests that as we overlap those four quadrants, we create margin for building relationships. If we are constantly going outside of where our home is (neighborhood) for work, school/play and church, there is less time (and more stress) to build relationships there.
Take a moment and think about how your quadrants overlap. Do your children attend school in your neighborhood? Does your expression of church meet near your workplace? Is your gym in your neighborhood? Can you walk to your local “3rd place”?
What thing is winning or falling short in your life right now? What steps can you take to create the margin necessary to win?