It was our calling for a season, but no way to create a life.
Last week, we started Round 2 of the Margin Book Club. Look at these strong and powerful women! They are all leaders in their professional lives, homes, and personal relationships. They all also realize their need for support and encouragement–so here they are! Ready to work, learn, and grow together.
Our focus? Creating MARGIN, or room to breathe, in our lives. You feel that need, right? I’m sure you don’t have to think too long and hard to think of an area where you would like a little (or a LOT) more space.
We’re looking at four main areas for margin: time, finances, physical energy, and emotional energy. You can get a detailed explanation of each on my blog.
At the beginning of each session, I’ve shared with the group my family’s story of MARGIN-less living. It’s been a powerful illustration for what it might look like in real life. And, a word of hope to those caught in the midst of the struggle that there is a path out! Would you like to hear it, too?
Some of the background:
Mike was transitioning from Full-time Pastor to High School English Teacher. He needed to recover from burnout and exhaustion.
We just grew to a family of 5.
This is a picture of me and the kids at my brother’s wedding. We had so many good times and special moments during this season.
We were SO BLESSED with friends and family that walked with us through all of this and held us up with prayer, love, and TLC.
The problem with MARGIN-less living, however, is not with the highlight reel. It’s with the day-in, day-out happenings that are filled to the brim. The slightest bump in the road causes spillage and mess.
Here’s what our life looked like with a breakdown of the four areas:
- 2 Full-Time Teachers, one with a 45 minute drive to school (one way)
- 3 children, one of which was a newborn
- I also was running my Premier Designs business on the side
- Loads of student debt
- A home bought near the height of the housing bubble with no down payment
- High debt to income ratio
- Hello newborn baby! Hello nights with interrupted and/or little sleep!
- Little to no time for exercise
- Eating so-so
- Mike was recovering from burnout.
- I had at least a small amount of postpartum depression.
- We were going through a lot of relational pain and spiritual healing.
Can you see how we were living to the limits of our capacity in every area? Yes, GOD can help us where our strength ends and his begins. And GOD did show up in major ways during this season. But, this way of life was not sustainable.
This was our calling for a season, but no way to create a life.
The Road to Healing and Health
How did we come out of that season to a more healthful, sustainable, and enjoyable life?
And how can you make improvements in the areas of life where you need more margin?
Moving into our current home in Arkansas is a huge milestone in the growth of margin in our lives.
Margin is gained in a series of little steps.
You may not notice huge shifts in one day, one week, or even over several months. But, with the passage of time, prayer, and making intentional changes, you can make a change!
1. Decide what you want.
As Mike healed from his burnout and we worked together, we made a plan for what we wanted for our family. One person working full time feels more comfortable for us, at least for a time.
2. Figure out ways to cope until you can get there.
Where can you cut back? What supports can you add?
We relied heavily on the family and friends that were close by for help with the kids, and with our own healing.
3. Celebrate and recognize areas of growth.
I have very clear memories of talks that Mike and I would have about how our spirits and hearts were healing.
4. Constantly reassess and make adjustments.
This is something we still do to this day. And it’s a habit I hope sticks around for the rest of our lives.