Margin or The Rat Race
After 14 exhausting but wonderful years of raising kids and homeschooling for a few of them, I am finding that my life is finally calming down. I am incredibly blessed to now have time and margin in my life.
About a year ago, I discontinued homeschooling when my husband and I felt God leading us to send my youngest daughter back to public schools. It was absolutely the right thing to do at the right time – Praise God! However, the week that she went back was one of the hardest weeks of my life.
Since then, my time has been filled with bible studies, coffee with friends, doing some writing, and seeking God’s will for my life. However, the biggest blessing has been the time that I have had for thinking and reflecting; and, spending time in prayer.
My natural tendency is to be a ‘Mary’ and sit at the feet of Jesus. I have less ‘Martha’ in me than I would care to admit. So, I have been able to sit with God and soak in every drop of what He has in His Word for me. I have let it wash over me like a tidal wave; like a healing rain. He has built a hunger and thirst for His Word within me. What a remarkable thing that is!
I look forward to my bible studies now more than anything. I am hungry for God’s Word. For the first time in my life reading the bible is not a chore. I am starting to see it for what it really is . . . the living, breathing, Word of God. It is a toolbox, a gift, a love letter, a mirror, an admonition, and a glimpse into our future with Him.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16
I also spend my days cooking, cleaning, and basically keeping my home and family running. In addition to that, I am half way through a Doctor of Naturopathy program at an online school. I also co-lead a women’s bible study at my church, and, obviously, I write a blog.
At times, my life is definitely full and a little crazy, but not all the time. I am very fortunate to have what most people don’t . . . . . margin.
According to Dr. Richard A. Swenson, M.D., margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits.
Not many people experience margin in their life. So, I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb.
Pressure from Society
I feel tremendous pressure all around me because I am not working. Pressure from society and pressure from the culture.
There is a voice in my head that says that I should be working; that I should be earning a paycheck; I need to be eternally busy or I am being lazy. It says that If I’m not running 90 miles an hour and busy from dawn until dusk, than I am not doing enough.
I battle the guilt of not contributing financially to our household, not contributing to the economic machine of capitalist America, and not living the distracted, mundane life that can be a prison sentence here on earth.
I also feel guilty because I don’t have to work, like so many single mothers or families that are financially strapped. My heart goes out to them. I am very fortunate to have a husband who gets payed well.
I feel resentment from friends who have to work to make ends meet, and friends who are miserable in their jobs. I see how their jobs consume them.
I don’t have a job with a paycheck. Does that make my life less valuable than others’?
How busy is busy enough? Who gets to decide?
The Accepted Way of Life: Busyness
I think that everyone would agree that we live in a workaholic society. Our country is drowning in busyness, and we’re proud of it!
“As a society, we’ve forgotten what margin is. In the push for progress, margin has been devoured.” – Margin, Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
Middle class America esteems those who work way too much. Dare I say that we make our jobs an idol?
This is not to say that you can’t find great meaning and purpose in your job. And, I am not saying that it is impossible to keep your job in its proper place. Many people do it, and do it well. For some, their workplace is their mission field and God does great things through them there.
However, most people I know work hard all day at a frustrating job that they don’t like and come home deflated. I can picture them at the end of the day, falling down in their easy chair in an exhausted heap. Living the dream, right?!
“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Lilly Tomlin
Do I have the right?
So, I need to dissect this. Do I have any right to not run the rat race?
Am I allowed to have a season of life that is calmer and less hectic? Do I have the right to a season of reflecting . . . . of being still . . . . of seeking God’s direction for the next steps in my life? Or, am I required to instantly jump into the next thing so that I am working?
Did God intend for us to live life in a frantic state of continuous activity? Did He intend for our lives to be just a blur? Simply a means to an end?
I don’t have a job, but that doesn’t mean that I do not work. It does not mean that I do not contribute to society. It does not mean that I’m not busy. It means that I am not busy ALL of the time.
God definitely calls us in seasons to push ourselves to the limit. But, I don’t think He intended for us to always live at that pace. God allows us to rest.
“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7
God also has a lot to say in scripture about our work. Obviously, He does not want us to be lazy. God made us to work, to be productive, and to live with purpose.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15
However, above everything, He wants us to give our lives completely to Him.
“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Right now, I am in a season of transitioning, learning, growing, and waiting on the Lord. I desire to use my giftedness to love and serve others. In what venue or arena or circumstance I don’t yet know. I want to love God by being His hands and feet.
I feel the strong need for prayer, and to be still enough to hear His voice. I don’t want to miss it. He has been so good to me, and I want to give Him my everything.
He may want me to get a job and use me there. He may be calling me to ministry. He may want me to wait on Him; wait and focus on disciplining my children in Christ, being a helper for my husband, and being available to love and serve others in my community as Christ did.