Do you ever have days or weeks where you look at your life’s pages and there seems to be so much written on there that few coherent thoughts seem present because the jottings are just running off the page?
When I was in Elementary School, I remember my teachers specifically telling us to write within the margins. They marked our grades down when we didn’t comply because it made their job and my job less affective. After those foundational school days, in later years, I would write outside of the margins while taking class notes and I would wind up confused. My skills were less affective when I went against my training. I couldn’t make sense of the things that spilled out of my page’s boundaries. I began to notice that my learning process reached its optimum level when I respected the vertical lines that crossed my horizontal lines. Even if I had to start a new page, I could process and digest what was written so much better when I maintained balanced margins on my loose-leaf and spiral bound sheets of paper.
Our lives require the same discipline of respecting (and even creating) margin. The pages we live become so much more legible and meaningful when space is created to hold the words in form and rhythm.
Like horizontal lines on a page, we fill our lives with this and that and those and these by saying yes and no and not yes and not no. Eventually, we find we are spinning our wheels from sun up to sun down with little room to evaluate how much space is actually present on our pages. We each have one life. Every life is short, no matter how many days one accumulates. Yet, that fact does not grant permission to spill the words off our pages over so much that we miss the value of the punctuation marks and boundaries required for a better story.
Too often, we focus on the blue lines stretching across our papers rather than the red lines reaching from the bottom up. Our thoughts are consumed with how much we can fit on our page, rather than the space that was intended to help us choose which words belong in the body of our stories.
Our life’s pages beckon us to honor the vertical red lines first. When we leave room for margin, we find space to inhale truth and exhale the best version of our stories. As we concentrate on the blank space outside of our own scurried scribbles, we find that the uncluttered region beyond the borders of red is anything but empty. It’s full of peace, rest, rejuvenation, worship, inspiration, wisdom, truth, grace, hope, faith, love, and all that calls us upward toward Christ.
I bet you’ve got a lot on your plate, friend. I’ve felt that way, too, many days. Some of the things on your page have been put there outside of your control. You might consider some of your filled horizontal lines to be exactly what you’ve always wanted to occupy the spaces of your story. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, there are things that don’t have to spill off your margins if you really consider the jumbled message that’s being intertwined in the important parts of your life’s tale. Those scribbles just might be spilling into the spaces that are intended to make your story better. Do you think maybe it’s time to erase some stuff and make room for punctuated margins that are meant to hold the words on your page in beautiful order?
What can you say a firm “no” or “not right now” to? What can you say a better yes to today?
Where are the vertical lines on your page? Are you finding spaces to breathe more deeply and to listen to your storywriter? Or are you taking over the pen and ignoring the margins?
When you look at how your story is reading, ask yourself why the things on your horizontal lines have earned the right to be there? Are those life sentences there because of a run away pen that you’re chained to? Or are the words that appear on your page because of what you’ve learned from the Living Word of God when you’ve honored your vertical lines of margin?
Make room for margin today, my friend. Your story will read so much better.
(If you’d like to read some fantastic resources on this topic, check out The Best Yes and Breathe.)