Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On Finding Margin


I find myself rather exhausted and worn thin these days.  Six children, homeschooling, potty training a toddler and a baby who wakes up throughout the night does that to a woman.  I find myself scrambling to make life simpler, to reduce the work-load, to do away with unneeded stress.  I am looking for margin.

I learned many years ago that a life without margin is a life that will burn-out. Living without margin  is a lifestyle that is not sustainable, that robs joy, and steals peace.  We are people who have limits.  We cannot max our lives out with activity and commitments and obligations and expect to live healthy and whole and sane.

{If you have never read the book Margin, it is a must-read.  I come back to it year after year.}

As I looked around my home last week, I realized that the volume of dishes that I do for our family (even with the kids help!) is too much right now. We cook three meals a day for seven days a week and that adds up to a lot of dishes along with a lot of cloth napkins. My values of living frugally, eco-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing began to collide with the reality of the amount of work I am doing that is draining me and stealing time away from spending time with my kids, doing creative pursuits, or even just resting.

I made the very-difficult-for-me decision to become wasteful.  I went to Target and bought paper napkins, bowls and plates.  I felt like a failure in many ways for that.  I hate it when my reality doesn't fall into line with my ideals.  But somehow that is when I learn the most about grace and flexibility and sensitivity and freedom. It's when I realize that my health and sanity are more important than ideals.

My lifestyle choices must be sustainable for me in every season, and seasons change therefore so do some of my choices.

We can't hold on to old ways of doing things if they don't work anymore.  There is a sense of grief when that happens, but rest assured that seasons will change again and many times we return to those values and ideals again but with hands more open and more willing to let go.

I think the biggest lesson I learn during times like this is that God really loves me.  Just as I am.  Frail, bumbling, tired, and messed up.  He isn't concerned with the fact that I bought paper products and would rather I choose the path that leads to my loving others best.

And for me right now, that means letting go of being sustainable for the earth and choosing to be sustainable for me.

21 comments:

Jennifer said...

Good for you for finding a way to take care of yourself and your family. Life is a series of phases. This is where you are right now.

And I hope your post makes other moms, myself included, think about ways they can let go.
God bless...

Julie Noble said...

Life can be contradicting to our ideals. When I was a single mom there were many things I had to do that made my life easier: Do what you have to do because they grow up fast. Don't ever feel guilty about wanting to spend more time with your kids! Enjoy it! My son turns 24 next week, trust me I know.
www.inspiredhomecooking.com

Trina said...

"I think the biggest lesson I learn during times like this is that God really loves me. Just as I am. Frail, bumbling, tired, and messed up. He isn't concerned with the fact that I bought paper products and would rather I choose the path that leads to my loving others best."
Such truth Aimee! Thanks for the reminder...something my soul really needs to embrace right now :-)

trina
@trinajean (IG)

Julee Huy said...

I am in this very same place right now! It was so hard for me to buy the paper, but the 6 kids, the potty training the 3 meals a day, the dishes.... I finally gave in last week...

It's what we can do right now, by God's grace!

Clare said...

Aimee, I thank the Lord that he gave you the gift of words, because your words were just what I needed to hear today. I have been feeling a similar way (just with 4 kids less:P )and have decided just this last week that for my health to improve I really need to give up my 'hobby' job teaching music saturday mornings. I like that you mention grieving for the ideal that you are giving up. I love teaching and I have loved my job, but it just doesn't fit anymore (and infact, I am so exhausted for several days afterwards that I am completely useless to my family - not good!!). I grieved (and infact, think I still am!) for what I am giving up, but if I keep how I am going to feel when I have 'retired' in the forefront of my mind, I can let go of those feelings of grief. I am definitely going to check out that book you recommended. Lovely to hear your words again - and your new page design looks fab!!! xx

Amy L. said...

I loved what you shared today. I can so relate! I tend to hold up these ideas of what is "good" (handwashing piles of dished for my family of 7)and what is "bad" (paper plates and napkins)- and make all sorts of boxes for myself to live in. Loved what you said about God loving you right here, right now. Amen, Sister! 8 )

gina said...

Way to go! I've been on the same journey and have found, like you said, that I'm eventually able to come back to the places where I'm most comfortable (living creatively, sustainably, etc.). This is a season of life and by letting go of certain things, we are setting ourselves up for success in the things that matter for eternity.

Shannon said...

Beautifully refreshing Aimee! I'm actually reading Margin right now for the first time ever.

Julia Moya said...

I totally understand and am right there with you. I couldn't help but laugh because I had just added "paper plates" to the shopping list. I've been praying about things like cloth diapers and if I should and could go back to doing that. Thanks for the reminder that we all have limitations and that the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus, keeping our eyes on Him as we serve our family. Hugs to you dear friend!

debbie bailey said...

I read Margin and loved it! In Search of Balance was also excellent. Best I've read on the subject. And don't feel guilty about buying paper. That's self-imposed guilt. You'll be able to go back to cloth napkins and washing dishes sooner than you think!

I gave up cloth diapers with child #3. The hardest thing I've ever given up was homeschooling Laurel in 9th grade. Talk about the end of a dream! But she lived through it and even flourished. I'm still grieving, though. Talk about hanging on....

Jen said...

Aw...the freedom we have in Christ...so many times we forget it's there.
Thanks for your post!

Andrea said...

so well said. thanks aimee.

Sara said...

Aimee---I can relate to SO MUCH of this! I too have six children (twin 7 month olds), homeschool, and I do way too much every day! It's hard to even know what to cut out b/c there is always so much to do. So....I just do what I can and I'm ever so slowly learning to let things go. It's hard, though. Oh, and speaking of letting things go....I had emailed you about doing the letter writing thing about a year ago. I had your address and was planning to write but never did. I just wanted to let you know I didn't forget, but life just got in the way. Thanks for sharing this post. We're going on vacation next week, and I'm thinking paper plates will be in order!!!

contentedsparrow said...

love this, aimee. love how you rest in grace.

Joy @gracefullmama said...

Love this post. You have hit the nail on the head! I, too, am trying to find that balance in there somewhere between ideals and reality. Thanks for your honesty and your encouraging words!

Blessings,
Joy

Jaime said...

I think you just inspired me to buy more paper products and do less dishes during this season of life too!! I'm having a "why didn't I think of that already" moment. Thanks for sharing! :)

BJ said...

I came here through a link from Contented Sparrow. I wish I had learned this lesson a long time ago, and yet I remember one time, when I had but four children, and bemoaning something in my life. I know God spoke to my heart and set me on a course of freedom.

You said, "I hate it when my reality doesn't fall into line with my ideals. " This was so much where I was at. It's still sometimes my struggle, but I am thankful for Grace that has been gently leading me into a better way. Of changing and letting go and being me - in Him. We get so caught up with being a great wife and mom that we end up missing out. Not what He wants for us at all.

Thanks for sharing!

BJ said...

I also wanted to say that we need to make sure husbands are factored in. When they are speaking freedom over us (like mine when I said I just didn't want to do cloth diapers anymore), we need to go with it.

May I link to you on my blog?

ginanorma said...

Oh aimee i'm practically speechless over your gorgeous heart and spirit filled life. (I had to ask my husband what a margin was sshhh don't tell a soul;)
Once he told me, I was blown away by this post, ...I have a piece coming up on B.R. called You Are Enough next week I believe, nonetheless, keep watch for it, b/c it might be the 24th too, not sure...but boy we can relate hon...thanks for sharing!!!

Kimberly said...

:) We've been mostly paperless for awhile. I prefer the less waste thing and the money we save.
I bought paper napkins and plates again after a long break simply because I did not think I would have enough for our neighborhood Easter dinner here.
We are using the paper stuff for lunches and the world will survive. We burn wood for heat and so we use the paper products for kindling. We'll see what happens when they run out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have this continual babbling of talk in my mimd about this topic. Not about paper plates... but the ability to let go and live imperfectly with great joy and humility. Resting in grace. Much to my chagrin, I've yet to manage perfection in any area of my life and it can be shaming to admit that I don't care anymore. There ought to be freedom in that, but I guess I cling to this fear that 'OTHERS' won't understand and just judge me. But I am learning to move away from that too. Thank you for sharing, Aimee.
Kika