Featured receivinghandsF

Published on April 9th, 2014 | by ABCUSA

0

How Big Are Your Margins?

This reflection was written by Rev. Dr. Sharon Jacobson, Spiritual Director, and was originally published in “The Baptist Update,” the newsletter for the American Baptist Churches of the Rochester-Genesee Region.

A few weeks ago, in a conversation about how I could continue to be of service to the region, Alan Newton suggested I might write about pastoral care. After he left, I found myself looking at a book he had given me on Lent and remembered how this liturgical season is thought of by many as one of the busiest seasons of the year.   So, I would like to challenge each of us to think about this question. If your life were a piece of paper, how big would your margins be? Would you have one-inch margins all around your paper? Inch and a half? Two inches? Or is your life so overflowing with stuff that you HAVE to do that you are not even sure you have any margins. If you do, then maybe they are like 1/100 of an inch.

As I learned the hard way in my own life, some of us have gotten so used to living life without margins, we do not even know what they are. While we might like the idea of having more time and space in our life, we have no idea how to begin to function in a world where that might even be possible. Some of us have lives that are so filled to the brim with stuff we have to do that there is no room to squeeze anything or anybody else in.

Modern day living devours the margins that we may have in our lives. Living without margins creates problems. Now with some problems, we know how to fix them. If somebody is homeless, we can bring him or her to a shelter. If they are in need of medical care, then we can bring them to a doctor. If you are in need of food, we can get you some food stamps, but if they are margin-less, it seems as if we just give people one more thing to do.

Some of you might be wondering what I even mean by being margin-less. Richard Swenson described margin-less like this:

Marginless, is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the bank because you were 10 minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station and you forgot your wallet. Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.

Marginless, is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the bank because you were 10 minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station and you forgot your wallet. Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.

Marginless is the dinner burning on the stove and the phone ringing at the same time; margin is letting the phone roll over to voice mail.

Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift. Margin is a friend to carry half the burden.

Marginless is not having time to finish a book that you are trying to read on stress, margin is having time to read it twice.

Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.

Marginless is forgetting to or not being able to pay your bills; margin is paying them on time and having money left at the end of the month.

Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.

Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.

Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture

Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is its cure. 1

1Swenson, R. A. (2004). Margin: Restoring emotional, physical, financial, and time reserves to overloaded lives / Richard A. Swenson. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress


About the Author


Back to Top ↑