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Have you ever taken the time to write a life-giving and life-draining list? If you haven’t, it’s time you did. 

A couple of weeks ago, I sat on the deck of a beach house that we were staying out with friends. It was in the quiet of the morning, before anyone had stirred. The breeze was cool, the coffee was sweet and the time alone with God was rejuvenating to my soul.

So I pulled out my journal and started to write. As I prayed and wrote, I decided that I needed to make a life-giving list and a life-draining list. I reflected on the activities I participate in and asked myself and God, “Is that activity life-giving to me or life-draining?”

I did this kind of list a couple of years ago, but as a human, we are ever growing so what was on the list 2 years ago, likely would not be the same. Maybe some of the same themes, but potentially not.

What I found?

The most life-giving moments for me are spent with others.

Relationships. With God, with Phillip, with family and friends.

Life draining? The feeling of hurry. 

Being on the hamster wheel. The rush from one thing to another. The feeling of always running behind. 

I have admitted to you several times that I keep a very busy schedule. I enjoy activity and people and being involved, but it becomes life-draining when there is no space for downtime. A breather. 

Not necessarily more time, but space to actually enjoy

From writing these lists, I recognized that I need more margin in my life.

Pastor and author, John Mark Comer, describes margin as “the space between our load and our limit.” 

Think of margin as the edge of a piece of notebook paper. The red line is there to tell you to stop writing and move down to the next line because if you don’t, and you keep writing in the margin, your pencil will fall off the edge of the paper. 

Kind of.

God is teaching me that unless I give myself margin, I am going to fall off the edge of the paper…or maybe I should say, rocker. 

As I said last week, in order for us to thrive, and live out who God has called us to be, we have to have margin. 

Margin looks like the ability to sit and take in a sunset, or linger over coffee with a friend, or enjoy a long hike. It looks like reading a book or painting a picture or playing a game of cards with your son instead of rushing off to the next activity. 

Margin looks different for all of us, but for all of us, it provides space to delight. 

Delight in God. Delight in others. Delight in the beautiful world around us. 

I am far from an expert on this yet, but I have noticed that when I have margin, I am overall happier and able to face whatever the day throws at me with a cheerful disposition. I also have noticed that when I have margin, creative juices flow. Blogs are written, a podcast is planned, a website is budding. Margin also allows me to play. Play and imagine with my kids, but also be playful with Phillip and be playful with dreaming in my mind.

But when I don’t have margin, it’s like my brain goes into survival mode and cannot work beyond the necessity. 

What about you, friend? How do you respond when you don’t have margin? And how do you thrive when you do? 

What do you do that is life-giving to you? And what is life-draining?

I encourage you to take some time to discover it. Invite God into it and ask Him what you can do or give up that would allow for margin in your life.

Creating margin in your life doesn’t have to look big and dramatic. It can. But it can also look simple and small. Either way, it will be for your benefit. 

A way for your soul to breathe and delight.

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Lord, show us how to create margin in our life so that we can delight in you, your world and your people more fully.

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