Advent Blog Day 6 – adding margin in the busyness

Last night Adam and I were having a conversation about whether to add an additional event into our week. I had my reasons for taking up the one blank day in the week ahead. He was concerned we were filling up our lives a little too much – not leaving any space (which he needs a lot more of than me, but I know I still need some).

And then today I noticed a tweet about the ‘Three Dangers of Being Crazy Busy 1 of 3’. I was intrigued, I clicked the link, and then, ironically being too busy to read it properly, I skimmed it. Nevertheless, two things stood out to me.

1. The first ‘danger’ – being too busy places our joy at the risk of being ruined. I thought, yep I know that feeling – when lots of good things are happening but I’m so busy that I can’t pause to experience what’s happening now – I’m already thinking ahead to tomorrow, the weekend and even into next week. The writer of this post, Kevin DeYoung says that the anxiety and irritability which is often inevitable when we’re busy is sin. I have reflected before on my struggle to just ‘be’. It’s still hard. DeYoung says:

As Christians, our lives should be marked by joy (Phil. 4:4), taste like joy (Gal. 5:22), and be filled with the fullness of joy (John 15:11). Busyness attacks all that.

2. The concept of margin – DeYoung refers to an interview he once heard with a Christian doctor called Richard Swenson:

“Margin,” Swenson says, “is the space between our load and our limits” (69). Planning for margin means planning for the unplannable. It means we understand what’s possible for us as finite creatures and schedule for less than that.

I read this and thought, I never do that. I think I plan for a little more than I think I can cope with, note the risk, and hope for the best. Margin might happen sometimes, but usually by accident – and I’m very good at filling up space with ‘important’ tasks. An entire day with no plan is a little bit scary for me – I seem to thrive on structure and deadlines. I don’t think it’s fearful to allow this kind of space. It’s fear that tends to drive me to fill things up in the first place.

So I’m feeling rather convicted. As far as it’s within our control we’re still going ahead with the plan of adding that event to our busy schedule, but if it falls through, I’m just going to let it.

It’s time to embrace the margin.

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