“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)
All five of our children were in elementary school and involved in sports. The three boys played on three different football teams, one daughter was a cheerleader, and the other daughter played soccer. If that weren’t enough, my husband ran his own business, I worked part-time and sang on the worship team, and my husband and I led a small group at church.
Our lives consisted of an ongoing handoff of children and responsibilities that needed military precision to keep moving.
There was no time to meander, stroll or take the scenic route. And there were literally no breaks. Days ran into nights and weeks blurred into months without us having any time to relax and catch our breath.
Thankfully, it didn’t last forever since the football season came to an end, but I declared that kind of overload would never, ever happen again. There was absolutely no margin for error or sickness.
In the aftermath, I realized we had no non-negotiable boundaries set in place to protect us against that kind of crazy. Everything was fair game to cancel so we could get more done: We gave up family dinners, leisure time and didn’t guard the Sabbath.
That season, and many others before it, proved that unless I put borders around my busyness, I will be a wreck, and my family will too. But it also begs the question: Does life balance even exist?
For most of us, there are few non-negotiable boundaries when it comes to busyness. We live without the built-in rhythms of the rising and setting sun that guided our ancestors just a few generations back. Few of us live an agricultural or pastoral life led by the gentle demands of animals and crops.
We could work 24 hours a day if our bodies and minds would let us. Hence, we get drawn into a nonstop lifestyle of work.
Although I firmly believe the Bible honors hard work, the Bible does not say we need to be busy all the time. This is where we need wisdom to find a balance between work and rest.
I love how King David acknowledges God’s perfect plans: “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).
Although David refers to property lines, this is a lovely image of God’s plan for balancing our lives. God has boundary lines established for us that are pleasant and manageable. He never meant for our lives to be a jumble of overcommitment. Rather, God’s plan is peaceful and ordered.
And in order to find that pleasant place, we need to have healthy boundaries on our time with lots of margin built in.
Margin plays an important part with a boundary, whether it’s on our property or in our lives. Margin creates safe places, adding beauty, breathing room and balance for the eye and mind.
I learned this concept when I took an editing class. The beauty of well-designed page isn’t just what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. The un-designed area, called white space, carries as much, if not more, impact as the words or graphics.
A significant value of white space is to make the page visually appealing so you want to read it. As our eyes scan a crowded page, our minds tell us it’s too much work and we disengage.
But a page with lots of white space invites you in. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic. It feels simple, doable, calm. White space gives the reader a mental break while at the same time drawing your attention to what’s most important.
And this is what a life with margin around boundaries does for us. When our lives are overcrowded with “content” and lacking white space, we will feel cluttered and confused. It’s hard to identify what’s most important because it all runs together in a blur.
But by creating balance in establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room. We give ourselves time to think, dream and plan. Busy gets seriously out-of-control without boundaries.
Finding balance is possible. Establishing healthy boundaries involves editing the content in our lives, carefully identifying what’s most important … what God is asking us to do today. Then as we remove what’s not ours to do, we can breathe a sigh of relief at the beauty that’s revealed in our lives.
Lord, thank You that Your plan for me is pleasant and secure. Help me see those areas of my life that are crowded and confusing, and give me the wisdom to create a balance … to set boundary lines that bring peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)
It is possible to end the cycle of overwork, exhaustion and guilt … guilt for working too hard or not enough. In her new book, Doing Busy Better, Glynnis Whitwer shows how to find a healthy and holy balance between work and rest, and find significance in the One who created both.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there an area of your life that feels overcrowded and lacking peace?
Prayerfully consider what you can remove from your schedule, or to-do list, to create more margin in that area.
© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.