We do not like to be told we have limits. We need limits. We feel more secure with limits. But, for goodness sakes, do not try to tell us it is not possible to do something–Especially as American women. We have bought the line that we can have it all. Yet, when we try to have it all, we implode and explode and combust in complete frustration and exhaustion realizing, in fact, that we believed a lie.
Margin–a limit in condition, capacity, etc., beyond or below which something ceases to exist, be desirable, or be possible
By definition, our lives have a certain capacity. We have a cup which can be full but it will spill if it is filled to overflowing. When we have too much in our lives (even if great opportunities and good things), we cease to be effective. We each have different capacities that we function well in–some can handle more chaos than others. That does not make someone better or less than, just different. We, as women, tend to think, if she can do it, why can’t I? What is wrong with me? We have to learn OUR distinct margin/capacity and not try to fill our cup with the amount of liquid that goes into another’s cup. It might flood ours. We have to keep our mind and heart on what WE need to discern for our cup.
As of late, I have hit an internal wall. People had told me that having two children was an exponential amount of commitment and work verses just 2x the work. I nodded, “Yeah, sure.” Now I nod in understanding (like we all do when we live something verses planning for something). This winter has thrown us all curves with sickness and snow and the unexpected. In January, I resumed ministry on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Early in January, I committed to several things above and beyond my regular schedule knowing they would stretch me some. I said no to several things, as well. I felt good about the boundaries I set knowing I am not a super woman. I assumed that the little time I had set aside to prepare would be available, and then life happened. I assumed my cup would have some room near the top, and then it was filled beyond the brim. There were some spills.
In the last few weeks, I have recognized that my capacity is not the same as before. My tendency has always been to have a lot in my cup. I thrive in just the right balance, and my balance is way off. I am an extrovert, so I need to have people time (I also need my alone time). All my people time has been in leading or serving, and I have seen a huge deficit in my alone time. Because my brain capacity is diminished, it takes me longer to prepare well, and I have less time to prepare well. I can tend to juggle people as things when this happens.
Truthfully, my heart is a bit of a mess. I am recognizing that my capacity in this season does not match with what I have assumed I could do. We all live in seasons. This is a new season for me (just like when I became a new mom). I know there will not be a lot of personal time. I am so thankful to have these precious boys that I thought were impossible to have. I knew I would be tired and that priorities would need to change. The practical aspect of discerning priorities is what I did not realize would be hard.
I had a conversation about this with a dear friend the other day. She knows herself well. She draws good boundaries and sets holy margin. Yet, she can feel less than others that she is not formally doing things other than raising her preschool age children. I know her, though. I know that she ministers wherever she walks. She has room in the top of her cup to listen to a hurting mom, to make a meal for her elderly neighbor. When we fill our margins, we do not have time to look to the right or the left. We have no room for our cups to be flexible. When something or someone unexpected happens, we spill on others in a bad way, and those “others” are usually the ones we are called to love and serve in the deepest way–our family.
There is nothing lauded, no attention gained, when I serve Greg or Jack or Luke. I do not get applause or recognition or feel like I have produced anything. But, this is the holiest calling I have. They will know the reality of my heart much more intimately than a girl I disciple or a class that I teach or someone who receives a painting I painted. That is a deposit for life into them. I covenanted with greg to be there for him for life, luke and jack are entrusted to me to shepherd to the Lord. When i do not discern my margin now, it hurts them the most. I begin to treat them with less intention, love and care. I can tend to be frustrated with them that they are blocking my goals. In truth, they should be the ones i make goals to encourage and help. When i do not create margin, i miss opportunities to shepherd and love and enjoy them.
I confess that my heart has been confused. I confess that i have not discerned well. I commit to a new way of thinking in this season. The stakes are high, and I do not want to live in regret. So, most likely i am going to tell you no if you ask me to do something extra so that my heart margin is balanced to hear the Lord and to say yes to my family and to those in need along the way. I commit to get affirmation from the Lord instead of being in demand from others. May He be made much of and not me.