Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Soul's Oxygen {{& a list of space-guards}}

That space between what we have to invest and what we've committed to investing; 
between what we are actually able to accomplish, and what we, or others, expect to be accomplished. 

If you take the sum of your limited {yes, limited} energies:

  • physical
  • mental
  • financial
  • emotional
  • spiritual

and then subtract the sum of your investments:
  • commitments
  • plans
  • responsibilities
  • roles
  • relationships
what you have left over is your margin....
that is, IF you have anything left over. 

Margin; it is what creates space for movement, for new, for simple and for slow.
The whole walking-with-God-in-the-garden-pre-the-fruit-nabbing sets it clear from the start; 
we were created to need it, guard it. and utilize it!
Post-the-fall, God's spoken law, which included detailed non-negotiables over the keeping of sabbath, revealed His holiness, humanity's need, and a restored relationship defined and fed on this margin.

God intends for His people to maintain this white space 
where their energies are unspoken for but by the things of rest, worship, renewal, and communion which unfold in it. 

You will see it in scripture, if you look for it....

In the Psalmist's repeated proclamations of a tended and restored soul.
In the prophets' many declarations of a thirst-quenching water and hunger-satisfying Messiah to come.
In the healing invitations that Jesus, Himself, offers for a co-laboring under His easy yoke.
In the Epistles' frequent promise of an illogical peace that guards the soul.
In His great Revelation at the close of our Bibles which foretells vanquished tears, sighing, suffering ... all of it gone. 

Margin here, in this place, is but a foretaste of the blissful fulfillment we will know then, 
but it is one that we desperately need and have been given, if we will but steward it!

The soul's oxygen is in communion; knowing and being known by it's Maker...
It requires a cross-cultural solidarity of focus to carve out and guard this margin.

I lived for years without margin, 
and not due to innocent over-extension or busyness.
My warped theology of performing for grace {in which grace ceases to be grace}
didn't allow for margin. 

How could it? 
If I were to rest from the doing... how would the favor come? 
Wasn't it selfish, humanistic, a veritable sin, to "take care of oneself"?
That phrase itself grated with the stench of worldly wisdom.... 
That is, it did back when I was blind, dry, rote, and fairly joyless; lacking a true understanding of scripture's teaching on the care of one's soul that is indeed, selfless.

Then came grace. 
Not all at once, 
but in His gentle igniting of my heart to beat in rythm with His...
it came; 
continues to come.
And I learned it, am learning it, in pieces like the savored bites of a favorite pastry.

This freedom to create, maintain, and guard margin in my life.
To make place for rest and creativity that seamlessly flows into and out of communion with Him.

Yes. On paper, or rather on the screen app tagged "calendar",  I do less.
I am so very much okay with that. 
I am not always at everything. I graciously say no even though this at times, disappoints me or others with me. 

But, oh the freedom.... the radical depth of this confident knowing His favor and delight....
The way it has me all joy-filled, and happy, and rested, and able to give.... like never before.

I do so much less and have so very much more to give. 

If it were mathematics, it wouldn't add up. 

You see, margin is an unexplainable multiplier.... 
Like the five loaves and two fish, it fluffs and strengthens and stretches the layers of one's soul .  
It takes whatever you carve out; a little space of time, a simple activity, a small two-lettered word of decline, turning this little into big refreshing life-giving food...
And a soul that is fed can stretch far in the feeding of others.

I don't know where you're at with margin in your life....
Got it? 
Don't want it?
Got too much?
Most American Christians need more of it, or just need it period. 

I recently compiled a list of the ways I've been taught { by Abba and by my Favorite }
to create and maintain rhythms of margin in my life.
These are the space-guards, if you will, that well.... they guard the space.

1)Read. every. day. Doesn't have to be deep or long. MUST be real paper and ink pages though.

2)Choose one day a week as "renewal day". Keep it free of obligations. I linger in the word on this day, shower when in the mood, only clean as motivation strikes {the house, not the body}, and possibly nap. For those in ministry/ lay ministry, this has to be a day other than Sunday.

3)Follow at least 1 "frivolous" blog/FB page/website for the sole purpose of sparking creativity in living. Whatever that is for artist, photographer, chef, philosopher, decorator, fashionista, politician, etc...

4)Choose cute house clothes and wear them often. 
Fleece lined leggings, knee-socks, long chunky sweaters.  Maybe for you, it's athletic pants and a hoodie, but make choices to feel cute not frumpy in your comfy....then wear your comfy.

5)Drink tea, coffee....alternate if desired. Research new brews or blends. Make it an art.

6)Sit at your window and watch your view....whatever it is. Notice things you never knew.

7)Say No, Yes, Maybe, Nevermind, and interchange them freely as needed.  NO. Shame.

8)Daily chose something on your to-do list that can be put off if needed.  Label it as such. 

9) Find a funny youtube and send it to someone who will share your laugh... 
or, if your people provide the material, make your own.

10)Get rid of clothes.  The ones you love but never wear along with the ones you wear but don't love.... they need to go.  Wear what remains. 

11)Find something that intrigues you however trivial it may seem, and study it.  
Order a book or start online-research. Learn...always be learning. 

12)Cook really great meals. Great-tasting, maybe healthy. Try one new recipe per week, and YES, include dessert.

13)Sit or kneel or stand to be on eye-level during conversation with your people. Touch through a hug while they talk. Make sure you do this with each one, each day. 

14)Explore music; different genres and artists.  Find a new favorite.

15)Write your own words every day.  Journal, blog, sitck-it-notes. They all count, just write something down every day. If it's good, share it with someone else.

16)Stare at the sky for longer than you thought you would.  Talk with your people about the horizon. Describe creation in words together. 

17)Stop counting workouts, miles, reps, steps.... just. stop. counting. 
I know a woman at the gym who intentionally uses a magazine to cover the screen on her elliptical.  
She just turns up the music and goes for it.  I find her to be genius. Get moving but stop counting.

18)Collect something...anything. Teacups, quotes, essential oils, scarves, ideas, rocks - anything but then freely give each item away whenever the Spirit prompts, and He will.

19)Allow regular pampering....whatever that is for you?  Is it hot baths, working out, trips to the manicurist, kid-free shopping, coffee with a girlfriend? When discussed with your people and planned for, these things are far from selfish.  People love a soul-rested wife/momma/friend.

20) Go on dates with Abba like Jesus did. Draw away alone...
Mix it up by finding new places to to do this; a cafe, park, museum, hiking -trail, library...
Only take the items that will forge a quieted soul and communing heart.
Break with the "study mode" or "check list approach" and allow the Spirit to guide your worship. 

I would love for you to try some of these safe-guards.... or compile your own list. 
Build and guard your margin.  
It's where the soul-tending happens, and you will have more to give from a place of far deeper joy, if you do.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord


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