Life Balance: Creative Tension with Margin

“If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.” – unknown (popular adage)

I grew up in an ambitious, Type A, household.  The thought of taking a rest or reading a book for ‘fun’ were considered a waste of ‘productive time’.  I heard, “I feel guilty just sitting down, I feel I should do something all the time.”  Thus the mold formed and the future birthed more ambitious, Type A offspring.  Well, that is until nearly 12 years later a delightful surprise: my baby sister was born and she broke the mold!  Dawn wasn’t interested in being like everyone else, in fact: she was content with her very own mold.

I have learned so much from this creative, thought-provoking child! Before she was born I never questioned why I did what I did, at the pace I set.  It had always been done that way, I saw it and I did it the same way.  Dawn has helped me to see there is more than one right way to approach life and contentment.

Having margin between activities is something my sister does well.  Having tension in my schedule is a strength of mine.  I have experienced that the best of both worlds is balancing  margin (you know, the white space on your calendar) with some tension. Tension represents the commitments we make to others, deadlines, projects, and appointments.

Our lives with too much margin are like a limp rubber band which does not achieve  it’s purpose of “holding together” and too much time is falls away into meaningless activity.

Our lives with too much tension are like the rubber band pulled beyond it’s breaking point.   We become stressed out, burned out, hot messes!  We don’t do anyone good when we cannot keep up our frantic pace any longer. Or we are keeping up but our attitude becomes that of Mr. Scrooge. The band breaks.

Imagine your schedule like a rubber band gently stretched beyond its own form: just enough creative tension to go beyond the basic needs and into new realms of possibilities, but not too much that you have no time for rest and the inevitable scope creep and ‘fire drill’.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 NIV

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