If you had asked 14 year old me what she wanted to do with her life, she would have boldly declared the dreams and passions that still swirl my mind today. At 14, I was confident. Fearless. Daring. And naive.
Back then, nothing was off the table. In the 20+ years that have passed since, I find myself still on the journey to try to achieve those dreams. What happened? Did I try and fail? Were my dreams too big? Were the resources I needed too great? Did I not choose the right direction? Wander down an obscure path?
The unfortunate thing is that I wholeheartedly believe that the number one roadblock that has hindered the journey has been something entirely within my control– margin.
Over the years, I have heard many people say, “If you’re waiting on the right time to have kids, there will never be a right time. You’ve just got to make the leap.” And for what it’s worth, I think that’s pretty accurate. But there is no denying that when those kids come along, you have no choice but to forcibly create margin for them in your life. My living room that was once pristine began to overflow with toy cars and blocks and musical instruments. My nights that were once reserved for peaceful relaxation were filled with bath time and bed time and laundry after hours. My quiet mornings readying myself for the day in solitude were replaced with searching for shoes, packing snacks, and getting back packs out the door. I had no choice. If I was going to be a good momma– an excellent momma– those things had to take precedence over so many other less meaningful tasks.
When they came along, there was no turning back. When I made the decision to bring those precious babies into this world, I was willing to sacrifice whatever it took to show up for them no matter what. No excuses.
So am I saying my kids took all my margin? Noooo, silly! Listen.
I think there are far too many of us who have a dream or desire sitting inside of our hearts. We’ve been waiting for the right time, the best time, the necessary resources, the big opportunity… when all we have to do is just make the leap. When we make that leap, when we step out, when we make up our minds that this is the direction we are going to pursue with excellence, then we will have no choice but to allow those dreams to create margin in our lives. Late nights, early mornings, space in our schedule will all force its way in as we begin to walk in the call and purpose we have always been meant to pursue.
So what’s stopping your margin at the moment? I’ll go first.
Margin in Time
For far too many years, I have given the very best parts of myself in the pursuit of excellence– to so many things. “I don’t know how you do it all!” has been a great feigned compliment as I have run into that other mom at the grocery store. Room on my plate? Fill it up! Keep me busy! Yes to this, yes to that! I’ll do it! I’ll do it with excellence. I’ll be everything for everyone for all of time!
But what I was really saying was, yes to burn out and exhaustion. Yes to no free time. Yes to things that didn’t really matter to me. Yes to contrived obligation. And all of that was saying no to my margin. And the worst part is, it was all my own doing.
And then sometimes we get it right. We free up our schedules a bit so that we can create margin in our lives and we still miss it. Because here’s the other thing…
Margin in Mind
I can’t even imagine how many thoughts cross my brain on any given day. If poor sweet husband makes the mistake of asking, “what are you thinking about?” Lord help us. Get ready. It could be a 30 minute diatribe recounting my thoughts.
To make matters worse, studies have shown that on average, Americans check their phones 262 times a day. If I open my phone right now, I have 137 apps staring me in the face, vying for my attention. My brain shifts across them like a ping pong ball. Never before have we been so connected to so much information. And everyone, everywhere is shouting messages at us. Open Facebook, scroll a little. Open Instagram, watch that story. Open Pinterest, find a project. I really need to redecorate that room. What did I want to google again? Back to Instagram. Gosh, if I could only be more like her. Anything new on Facebook? What’s the weather going to be tomorrow? I better check the kids’ grades. What am I going to fix for dinner tomorrow? Maybe there is a recipe on Pinterest. Let me copy that link. I should send that one to my bestie. Oh shoot, I should text her back about that birthday party. Did I order that gift yet? Schedule the Target pick up. Oh, and I need to write that work email…
Brain wash. Rinse. Repeat. Anyone else?
In this day and age there is virtually no time for our brain to just be silent. There is no time for our brain to think the things because we are so busy thinking all of the things. When we finally find margin in our schedule, it’s like the inertia of slamming on the brakes too late. Everything comes crashing forward in our minds because our brains are constantly moving a million miles a minute.
But what if we could make the two collide? What if we were brave enough to force margin into our schedule AND allow margin in our mind? Imagine the possibilities.
If I was a betting woman, I would bet that you have all that you need to take the first step toward that goal today. You may not have everything for every bit of the process, but you’ve got the first step in you. You know what’s probably holding you back? Margin.
I’m not willing to sacrifice my dreams for something that is within my control any longer. You?
What’s that thing you’ve been looking to do? Start a company? Begin a family tradition? Eat better? Read a book? Switch careers? Learn something new?
Make margin for the things that matter. Faith cracks open the door for God’s blessings and promises in our lives. One small step today, one more step tomorrow. One beautiful journey ahead. You’ve got it in you. The world is waiting. Make the margin.