Margin Featured photoThe margin. It’s what helps keep our writing organized. I even use the margin that shows through from the other side of the paper as a guide for keeping the ends of my lines from squashing into the end of the page.

We all need margin in our life. And we need to make sure we aren’t robbing it of the space it’s due.

In the book “The Good and Beautiful God” by  James Bryan Smith, margin is the term used to describe keeping some space open in our lives to rest. The book has a whole chapter about how to practice putting margin in your life and how to make it a regular thing. It takes practice. For some, a LOT of practice.

“The number one spiritual sickness of our day is “hurry sickness.” We are constantly in a hurry because we have overloaded our schedule. When we lack margin in our lives, we become tired and lonely and joyless, which seems to invite temptation. We need margin. Margin restores balance and restores our soul, thus increasing our capacity for joy.”(from “The Good and Beautiful God”)

I was cleaning my house one day when I realized I was robbing my life of its margin. I was cleaning my counter and came across that one piece of superglued-on goo. You know, that goo that needs a soak in Windex, for what seems an hour, before your paper towel takes the plunge. And, I left it. “Ah, it’s good enough, right?” I know we have all felt that way from time to time. But, what struck me is, that day I asked myself “why?” Why was it so much harder to take the little extra time to clean it before moving on? After all, I already cleaned the rest of the counter. After reflecting, it was because I had so much more to do. I had a list in my head that was a bit too ambitious, and as a result everything on the list suffered.

On those days when I give myself time to just be and make my to-do list realistic, my work is better. Those sticky spots get wiped up. I’m not trying to rush on to the next thing. I’m happier, and my family is happier.

Something I recommend to everyone is seeing a therapist. Especially if you have more difficult circumstances. My psychiatrist told me one day about a study done on the idea of taking a time out. They had two groups. One went about life as usual and the other group had to take one hour a day to do NOTHING. Just sit. That, to me, right there gives palpitations of anxiety. But, at their next check-in, the results were impressive. The group ordered to rest an hour each day showed better mental health conditions, depression and anxiety levels were down, and more.

How awesome would that be if we slowed down a bit? What would happen if we created space in our lives for rest, or didn’t cram pack our schedules until there is no more room?Margin quote

I know when I have time each day to sit and sip my coffee while I read my Bible, pray, and study, my day feels better. My heart feels lighter. Maybe not always as light as air, but lighter than it would have been.

I was ‘ordered’ by my psychiatrist to make sure each day I would give myself some guilt-free ‘me time’. I tried it and it works. At first, it felt really weird and very hard to do without guilt and listening to all the to-dos shouting at me from all over the house.  It does help. But, it only works if you do it. I’d like to say I do every day and without guilt, but I’m still working on that part…

Take a look at how busy you are. Maybe you are doing great. I know a lot of people who manage their time so well, and it’s awesome. But, how many of us are running so fast and busy that we barely have time to breathe? Is there any part in your life you could create some ‘margin’?

Everybody needs some margin in their life. The margin isn’t just some wasted space of paper. It’s what keeps the paper organized and stable.


As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.

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4 Comments on The Margin: The Most Unappreciated Part of the Paper

  1. Good writing, Sarah, and so very true for all of us. I purposely create margins, but then things come up that I say yes to because I know I have that extra leeway. Then before I know it I’m freaking out. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Thank-you for posting Sarah! I always enjoy, and appreciate, what you write. And, of course, I can relate…my son is 22, and on the more involved end of the autism spectrum. It is a tough life….but I truly keep things “simple” as possible anyway! So, thank-you again, and keep posting!

    Pam Todd

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