The Margin

by Susannah Baker

Most of my life, I’ve lived under the illusion that in order to do what I love best (in a creative sense here), I have to wait to do it in the overflow of life’s moments. Until I am full, serene, calm, sitting quietly somewhere on a beach or in a hammock or overlooking a vista of rolling green hills. And then, in the overflow of those perfect moments, I pick up a pen..and write.

And I feel like everyone else who does these things – or does them well – has so much overflow and margin in their lives. Like they go to their desk during a perfectly ordered and scheduled day and have this block of four to six hours to really write. Or study. Or create. Or think.

Now don’t get me wrong – I think some people really do have that. God bless them. They can go to an office or room and shut the door and put on their favorite jazz tunes and type away.

But let’s be realistic. When do I ever have time to sit on a beach or a hammock or in front of hills ALL BY MYSELF and write out of the overflow of all that is around me? Umm, maybe twice a decade. BECAUSE I HAVE FOUR KIDS. And so much of my margin to write happens with people pulling on me. Dinner plans mocking me. Snotty noses smeared on me as I say, “Please give mommy just one more minute.” I am writing while spinning six other plates at one time. Maybe I will get to the place in my life where I can go IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY and shut the door to my study and hang a sign that says DO NOT DISTURB. But I’m. Just. Not. There.

What I’m having to muster up the courage to realize is that writing does not have to happen under perfect circumstances. And I think that’s true even for people who can go into an office and shut the door. Writing happens in snatched and stolen moments, moments where you take the few precious moments you’ve got and squeeze all of the words from them that you can.

My challenge to you is for you to do the same.

For most of us, waiting to write or create in the overflow of life is just really never going to happen. At least not in the next 18 years.

If we are ever going to really create in the rich and beautiful ways God intended us to, sometimes we are going to have to make it happen in the two inch margin of life rather than in the ten mile overflow. That was sort of a tough pill for me to swallow, and it took years (a decade precisely) to get over myself and just pick up the pen and start writing out of the two inches. The toughest (and scariest) part of all was that I had to be courageous enough to forsake perfection. Perfection just wasn’t going to happen, with or without four kids.

So here we go. Here is learning to write, learning to teach, learning to dig down deep and create and LIVE from the margin moments of life. And I am learning that the margin isn’t so bad after all. There’s a lot more for me to learn and write about from a full schedule and four noses to wipe than none at all. And I’m pretty sure it isn’t perfection most people want. I’m the only one who seems to demand it from myself. Most people just want honest to goodness words that come out of the edges of a person who doesn’t pretend they have it all together.

So welcome to the margin of my life – you will find plenty of misspellings, missed commas, poor punctuation and grammatical errors. My hope is to write once a week and post a blog that is an encouragement and challenge to each of us to grow in the seasons of life right where God has us.  And my hope is that in all of the imperfections, you will be encouraged to forsake perfection too and pick up your pen, or your spatula, or shovel, or paintbrush, or instrument…and create as well.

The margins don’t leave lots of room for fluff, or excess, or extras, but there is always just enough room to say exactly what is needed. So in the weeks ahead, come journey to the edge of the paper with me and let’s write on our papers together with exactly the tools, and the time, God has given us. I can’t wait to read what your margin has to say.