Archive for July, 2012

Margin

Margin is defined in the dictionary as, “an amount allowed or available beyond what is actually necessary.”  Margin is space in our lives.  The white space that borders the text in your notebook, textbook, or Bible can be used to add extra thoughts and notes, unless you are prone to neuroses about actually (gasp) marking in a book.  Margin is your extra space to use in times of necessity or desire.  In the same way, margin is the space in our lives that holds a reserve of extra energy, time, or resources.

As I remarked to someone last week that I felt exhausted and overwhelmed, she replied, “it’s really not that bad.”  While her statement was invalidating, in many ways, there is truth in that statement.  I could easily name dozens of maladies or circumstances that would seem much worse.

The challenge is not that our hectic schedule is “bad,” per se, but it is more so that we have no margin in our lives.  Because of our current circumstances, namely that my husband does not have a drivers’ license and works an hour away from where we live, my husband and I daily use all our time and energy primarily just getting to and from our respective full-time jobs.  We are away from home 15 hours a day on weekdays, and weekends are only slightly less hectic.   Because of our work schedules and other necessary obligations, our lives do not currently allow for a Sabbath day of rest.

When nothing unexpected arises, we can manage to get through each day.  We both feel constantly depleted and exhausted, yet life goes on; we get to work, we do our jobs, we come home, we eat, we sleep.  However, when circumstances require us to give extra time, energy, or attention to something out of the ordinary, everything suddenly seems completely overwhelming.  When I do not get a good night’s sleep, when I feel sick, when there is a traffic accident, when we must travel somewhere out of the way, it feels like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

I remember learning in a stress management course in graduate school that crisis occurs at the point when the external stressors and life demands exceed our internal coping resources (e.g. time, energy, financial resources).

 

A friend encouraged me today and said that she senses God’s presence the most when she has just passed that manageable state.  As I teeter on the edge of barely coping and complete meltdown, I sense God’s presence upholding me and sustaining me.  What feels like a crisis is opportunity for God to take over and uphold me with his grace.  I realize again that I cannot do this in my own strength.  Every day I am reminded that it is by His grace that we have jobs, transportation, and provision.

I am thankful that the Lord sustains me, and I am so blessed by my husband and our time together.

Grace is Sufficient

What are you gonna say to God

When all you do is pray to God

To take the thorn away?

And all you hear Him say is:

My grace, My grace

My grace is sufficient

My grace is sufficient

“Grace is sufficient” – Shane and Shane

I woke up this morning, like most mornings these days, feeling utterly exhausted.  I said a quick prayer to God asking Him to give me the strength, motivation, and energy to get me through the day, and thanking Him that He is faithful to do this every day.

Overall, I am extremely blessed.  I have a strong relationship with God and am blessed with a deep faith in His promises to provide for all my needs.  I have an amazing husband who loves me far more than I deserve.  I have shelter and a warm bed, plenty of food, a reliable car, a job I enjoy, good health, and dear friends.

Yet we all have struggles and difficulties, and mine right now is constant exhaustion as a result of the demands on my time.  Of course, what I often perceive as “my” time is in reality God’s time that He has stewarded to me to use for His glory and for my spiritual growth.  He is teaching me to humble myself before Him as I spend this time His way, not my way.  And while it is painful at times, death must take place in order for life to flourish.  (“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24)

As an introvert, I like to have a lot of quiet time at home in order to feel both physically and mentally refreshed and recharged.  But because of my husband’s and my schedule, that is not possible during this season of our life. I arise at 5:00 am and am away from home until 8:00 pm every weeknight, and weekends are nearly as hectic.  Most weeks, out of necessity, we do not have a Sabbath or a day of rest.  I think of my friends who have babies or young children and I cannot even fathom the exhaustion of being a mom.  I have newfound respect and admiration for my friends who are young mothers, as their job lasts from 5:00 am to 4:59 am every day.

I have been thinking lately about how easy it is for us to feel that we will be satisfied with things other than Jesus.  It is easy to think that I “need” more money, nicer stuff, uncomplicated relationships.  It is tempting to think that life would be better if I had more free time, or that I need more sleep.  Yet God’s grace is sufficient.  All I need is Him.  Literally, God’s grace is sufficient.

No matter what the struggle, all I need is Him.

Ultimately, the “good” things in my life do not point me towards my need for God.  I thank God for the blessings, but ultimately, if I had no struggle, it would be frighteningly easy to think I had it all together, that *I* was enough.  It is the hardship that reminds me that I desperately need God.  In my exhaustion, I want to feast on Him, I want to know Him better, I want to serve in His name, I want to sing praises to Him, I want to call out to Him for help.

I have good health and great friends.  Praise His name.

I am exhausted.  Praise His name.

I have food and shelter.  Praise His name.

I am struggling financially.  Praise His name.

I have an amazing husband who is my best friend.  Praise His name.

I long for more rest.  Praise His name.

I am His.  Praise His name.