“When we have no margin and our limits have been exceeded, when we are besieged by stress and overload; when our relational life is ailing, when it seems the flood of events is beyond our control; then problems take on a different dimension. One at a time they are perhaps manageable. But they just won’t stand in line. Instead, they mound up suddenly and then bury us without warning.”
Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (p.42)
I am not someone who likes to waste time, who likes to kill time, who likes to do nothing. I like to DO!!! I see space on my schedule and I either get sidetracked doing the least important, or the most visible task in front of me. Rarely do I kick back and just mellow out.
Part of the reason this is true is because I’ve been told I was “born busy” with places to go and people to see. Part of it is also my self-imposed “need” to prove myself. And the rest of it? I don’t like being bored. So I will fill up the space with activity.
Reading Swenson’s book though, has been a necessary evil for me. I really need to evaluate why I do what I do, and if it is the wisest use of the 24 hours God gives me every day. It is a good thing to make time for… kind of like making a budget or rotating the tires on the car. Smart people plan ahead. Random people live for the next crisis. And some of us, especially us pastors or pastor-wannabe types, drag our unsuspecting spouse, family, friends and yes, even our church, along with us.
We think “fix it!” or “make it better” when maybe we need to step back and say, “hmmmm… was this smart to do in the FIRST place?” I wonder how much time I have spent on things that do not matter… or were never mine to worry about in the first place? I wonder why I have felt this compulsion to DO all of this stuff…
I learned a lot last semester when I thought about plans, goals, mission and vision. Having to refine my life’s mission and vision, when I don’t exactly know how this will all shake out has been unnerving. Even overwhelming. It was as though I have been writing on the pages of my life and never stopped to figure out what chapter I was on, or where the plot was going. (Not that I have to know everything… but I need to at least be sure I’m writing with the right color of ink!!!)
Today has time for doing nothing. I “helped” the cat take a nap. I “watched” the sprinkler water the flowers. I am spending a few “think cycles” on nothing. Listening. Sorting. Waiting.
Yeah, there’s papers to write and projects undone. But today, my margins need re-defining. So If I don’t answer your emails or phone calls, it’s nothing personal. Honest! I’m just outlining the margins that need to come back into my life.
The whirlwind can wait… because I never get it right when I don’t stop and listen…