Faith Reflections,  My Life


Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about margin, simplifying, and sabbath in preparation for teaching our Winter Bible Study at the church where I serve.  This is one of those ironic (and common) moments where I’m teaching about something I really struggle with rather than something I have a handle on in my own life.
Protecting my margins has always been tough for me. The spiritual discipline of saying “no” is a discipline I’m not .. . well … disciplined in.  The gift of sabbath is something I’ve often left unopened and marked, “Return to Sender”.  Not for noble reasons, mind you.  Most of the reasons have to do with my own insecurities, addictions and fears.
I’m not alone in this. Not in the least.  Nearly everyone I speak with or encounter lacks margin in their lives. Everyone is busy, overwhelmed, running the race, meeting themselves coming and going, exhausted …..
It is a horrible cycle. It is a destructive rhythm. It is a thief in the night that quietly robs us of Peace and meaning and joy.  We have this nagging feeling, this unsettled sense that something is missing; something has been taken from us. But because our lives are so crammed full, we don’t realize there is a grand heist going on right under our noses. We are being bamboozled, folks. Hoodwinked. Hornswoggled. Conned.
In 2012, a palliative care nurse wrote a book entitled “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.”  (There is a great summarization here.) When they looked back on their lives, this is how they wished they had lived:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I don’t know about you but I’d like to not have these same regrets when I’m near the end of my time here. And sense I’m not getting any younger and have no guarantees on tomorrow, I’d better make some adjustments now.
Let’s be honest…. some of us are prime candidates for an episode of “Hoarders” but not for material possessions (although some of you have rooms and basements that have been impassable since 1987.)  We are collectors of commitments; deputies of distractions; hoarders of ‘have-to’s’. [tweetthis url=””]We are collectors of commitments; deputies of distractions; hoarders of ‘have-to’s’.[/tweetthis]We have so much clutter in our lives that we have no idea the cat died and is decomposing in the back bedroom. (Okay – sorry, flashback to an actual episode of Hoarders that still bothers me to this day).
Folks, there are some precious things that are near death in our lives. Relationships. Sanity. Dreams. Wholehearted Living. Joy. Peace. Our relationship with God. We have to clean out the clutter in order to revive them. To revive ourselves. To live the way God intends for us to live.
We have to put margin back in our lives. We have to say “no” to some things and say “yes” to the best things. We have to believe that what truly matters most is God’s love for us. God did not create us to produce. God created us for His pleasure. And after He created us, He rested from His work and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17)

One Comment

  • CindyandGrant Timbrook

    Agree completely! For me (Cindy) with saying “no” comes so much guilt. Very, very hard to find margins, balance, all those good words, when life is completely focused around being a church leader. This is something I have also been trying to work on in myself (not very successfully – yet). Well written, Melissa. Thanks for sharing.

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