Making Room for Margins


A recent Sunday sermon really stuck with me. It was the first of a series called Margins: Making Room for What Matters and discussed how we often wear busyness like a badge of honor, leaving no margins for the things and people that matter most. Does that sound familiar? For me, I have crammed my days so full with working full time, side projects, board commitments, traveling to family and friends two hours away in two different directions, trying to find time for self-care, to be a mom to a toddler, a mom to one on the way, and a wife.

When all my commitments hit at once, I tell my husband that I just need to move one thing off my plate. What I’m really asking for and needing is some margin. Margins aren’t something the I’m used to building in, and I really have to – because they don’t often create themselves. Our pastor shared a quote with us, “life happens in the margins.” And I’m afraid that I’m missing it.

Where does your life need margins the most? And how can you create them?

Margins for Motherhood

Oh, mama. You already know. Because these margins are not necessarily because you haven’t made room to be a mom. Perhaps some days you aren’t there for bath or bed or dinner time because you’re carrying the rest of the world on your shoulders. But, becoming a parent is probably the closest thing many will get to being pre-programmed with margins. The moment you hold your child in your arms, that time and space is created.

More often, the margins that moms need to create is margins for error. Grace. I have discussed mom magic before and the power that is inherent in motherhood. But it doesn’t mean you’re invincible. It doesn’t mean that you’re perfect. It doesn’t mean that mishaps and mistakes and misfortunes cannot happen to and because of you. It just means that you’ve earned some grace. Your child will not hold the spilled milk, the mess, or the mix-ups over your head. They will not remember the food you burned or the times you forgot x, y, or z. They will remember that you showed up, imperfect and all.

Margins for Myself

There is nothing like becoming a mom to be like, “girl, you’re going to have to make time now.” If just for five minutes, you take time to wash your face. Like, really wash your face. If it’s those still moments before the kids wake up or right after they go to bed. If it’s a long, romantic walk down the grocery aisle – by yourself. Whatever your you time looks like, make time. Ask for time. You are the captain of your ship, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of everyone and everything without margins for yourself.

After I had our first, I created time for myself by seeing a therapist to sort out the new world that was handed to me. I made time to exercise during sleep training to distract my heart from her cries. And sometimes, even now, making time for myself doesn’t mean being by myself. One of my favorite things is rocking my daughter after she’s fast asleep. To hold her for just a few minutes. To study her face and measure her growth by how she hangs over my lap and to feel the silence.

Find your margins and fill them with things that fill you up.

Margins for Marriage

Now, I don’t know about you – but when my schedule is stacked, and I get through my day, commute home, throw together dinner, maintain sanity (or not), bath and bedtime routine, pick up and sit down finally…the very last thing I’ve made time for is my husband. The time for intimacy and connection doesn’t fall into our laps like it once did. We have to create time together without distraction. We schedule date nights in and out of the house. We have to say, “tonight, we’re making time for us.” We have to shed our work worries and parent cloaks and silence our phones and turn off the TV and make room.

There are so many distractions in this part of our lives that make the margins on our marital page slim, if existent at all. Perhaps that’s why divorce rates are higher than ever. Maybe that’s why so many couples are passing ships. Maybe that’s why people grow apart. Because they’ve not created the room needed to grow together, to connect in the in-between, and to give themselves the time that every lasting relationship requires.

Margins for Moments

Our lives are so structured and scheduled and “full” that we’ve barely allowed room for moments. There’s so much that can happen in free time. But, we struggle with it – don’t we? When we sit for too long, we start to feel like there’s something that we should be doing. When nothing is planned, we feel lost. When rain ruins our plans, we look around at each other and ask, “what now?”

But, every now and then – we do require rest. We do require a break from the get up and go, go, go. Cars need oil changes. Batteries need to be recharged and replaced. Fires need tending to continue to burn. And life needs margins for moments and magic, and memories.

Margins for Faith

As I began writing this, the OCD side of myself longed for a fifth header topic. Somehow the origin of all of this had escaped me. This all began in the back pew at church. It started in the still of a Sunday morning. It began in the words of Amazing Grace. Perhaps church isn’t for you. Maybe church is on your couch or in the five minutes of prayer or in personal reflection. Maybe you simply don’t believe. Whatever your faith may be or look like, make room for it.

Perhaps it’s something you’ve yet to find. And I understand. I was lost in my faith for a long time. Having parents who were split on their ideas and not having a permanent home to experience faith didn’t create a solid foundation for me. Having lost a best friend at a young age, the faith that I did have was called to question. But, when I moved to Indianapolis, and my husband and I were looking for a place to get married, we found St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and discovered how special it was as an open community. And while we attended when it worked out – we weren’t committed to it.

As we got married and moved around the Indianapolis area and started our family, St. Luke’s remained our faith home. Over time, the time that “worked out” for us to attend started to shift, and I came to realize that I desired time to attend. I desired margin for faith. Life is so busy, and it passes quickly. It’s easy to get caught in the current and to get taken in directions we did not actually choose to go in. Looking back, we wonder how we got so far away from the shore.

I’ve found that church has become my anchor not because I’ve had the bible shoved in my face and stories that don’t align with our world today preached at me or guilt or expectations pressed upon me. It has been my anchor because of the silence it creates. The quiet it allows for my mind. The peace it brings in me. Because I know that I am imperfect, but I’m still at work. Because I know that I am given grace when I stumble so very hard. Because I find my grandma in the words of a song. I feel my lost best friend. I see a crowd of strangers with different pasts, who are all fighting something today and are making margins for tomorrow.

I hope today, wherever you are in life – that you find your margins and that they fill you up without depleting you.