Today was a rough day. This week has been a rough week. My emotional capacity has been reached several times and it has broken me. Broken my brain or my spirit—or both. I’m not going to lie, many tears have been shed on more than one occasion in the past few days. That is what happens to me when my patience wears out, when my heart is broken, when I’m busy with too much and I can’t keep all the balls in the air anymore—I have lots and lots of tears. I know part of that is just being—you know—female, but it is how I process being overwhelmed.
I sat down to write today and I couldn’t. I had a well of emotion that needed to overflow and I couldn’t write till it did. I just started crying at Starbucks. Yes, I was that person today. I packed up my computer, thanked God for my sunglasses, made it to my car and let the sobs come. I drove home and tried to get myself somewhat together. Tom, who had seen me just a half hour earlier, was clearly puzzled as to what exactly was wrong with me—but he let me cry and outwardly process my mess with him.
For a good productive distraction, we decided to go as a family to Costco—which I was going to do after I was done writing, which did not work out (see above paragraph)—as we needed to get some essentials (diapers, bread, bananas etc.). As we drove, we noticed that today was a beautiful day. Blue skies and feathery white clouds, not too hot, but not cold. You could sense that springtime was just peeking through the door, getting ready for an extended stay. In light of this gift, we decided that Costco could wait.
We drove to a turn-of-the-century farm that is at a trailhead and went for a walk as a family. This is something we have never done together because the kids have been too little. For the past three years it has been either that they can’t walk that far, or they can’t walk at all. It never sounded appealing having to carry, pull, or push three children much further than a trip to the mall or zoo would require.
When we lived in the UK, we used to walk everywhere. Walking is an integral part of British culture and it took a little getting used to for us. I used to walk from our cottage to church through a lush wood called “The Common”. The journey was about a mile—which I scoffed at initially—but this walk became a cherished time when I would pray and meditate walking to and from the Sunday evening service. Eventually, that mile went far to quickly because I enjoyed the time so much! By the end of our time in England, we would go for walks everyday, down to the village high street or to the nearby pub, which would inevitably take us through a field of sheep or a small forest. Walking was a time of peace and conversation for us. It was a time to breathe and take in your surroundings, to quiet your heart and listen to God’s voice. In the US, we race from the house to the car, race in the car to our destination, and then race from the car inside. There is no catching your breath in the simplicity of your surroundings, there is just a ‘keep the pace or perish’ mentality. No margin.
As we walked down this path today I watched my little family. We were all going down the trail in different configurations. At first, Tom was holding hands with both the twins and Silas just tottered alongside me; then all of us walked at our own pace and yet, we continued down the path together, as a unit. I wasn’t worried about the kids falling down, I wasn’t stressed about them straying away because it was just us and there wasn’t really anywhere for them to get lost. I could breathe, I could meander, I could think.
I know I am not very good at creating margin for myself when I am with my family. The boys have been so little for so long, everything I do is about helping them survive and thrive, and I think it has had to be. Most of my time of ‘space’ has meant that I need to be physically away from them and even that has been stressful because of all the prep before and after the so-called ‘break’. Also, I feel a sense of pressure to relieve my stress during this short period of ‘break time’ that it almost defeats the purpose. It was a surprising relief today to find that I could be with my family and have that space at the same time.
I praise God that He knew what I needed today and how to get me to a place to receive it. He knew I needed to breathe, that I needed to hear His voice. He blessed me with margin. As I walked along with the warm sun on my face, He reminded me that I am His daughter and that is all I have to be right now.
I am loving the new album out of Bethel Music called We Will Not Be Shaken, particularly the song "No Longer Slaves". The simple chorus of that song was resounding in each step along that path today, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”
How do you find margin? Are you any good at it? What holds you back from getting space?