I had the pleasure of meeting Glynnis in 2010 at the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks Conference. I knew she lived in Arizona, so as the conference ended, I approached her about getting together sometime for lunch. She graciously accepted and we continue to get together about once a year.
You’re probably familiar with her, as she’s an author and is the Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has a new book out, Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest that I believe speaks to all of us about how to manage our busyness. In today’s post, she’s sharing about life balance—such a poignant message for us as we’re in the back-to-school season and gearing back up for routine and commitments. Enjoy!
There have been many times when I lived without a pause button, but one season tops them all.
All five of our children were in elementary school and involved in sports. The three boys played on three different football teams, one daughter was a cheerleader, and the other daughter played soccer. If that weren’t enough, my husband ran his own business, I worked part-time and sang on the worship team, and my husband and I led a small group at church.
Our lives consisted of an ongoing handoff of children and responsibilities that needed military precision to keep moving.
There was no time to meander, stroll or take the scenic route. And there were literally no breaks. Days ran into nights and weeks blurred into months without us having any time to relax and catch our breath.
Thankfully, it didn’t last forever since the football season came to an end, but I declared that kind of overload would never, ever happen again. There was absolutely no margin for error or sickness.
In the aftermath, I realized we had no non-negotiable boundaries set in place to protect us against that kind of crazy. Everything was fair game to cancel so we could get more done: We gave up family dinners, leisure time and didn’t guard the Sabbath.
That season, and many others before it, proved that unless I put borders around my busyness, I will be a wreck, and my family will too. But it also begs the question: Does life balance even exist?
For most of us, there are few non-negotiable boundaries when it comes to busyness. We live without the built-in rhythms of the rising and setting sun that guided our ancestors just a few generations back. Few of us live an agricultural or pastoral life led by the gentle demands of animals and crops.
We could work 24 hours a day if our bodies and minds would let us. Hence, we get drawn into a nonstop lifestyle of work.
Although I firmly believe the Bible honors hard work, the Bible does not say we need to be busy all the time. This is where we need wisdom to know how to find a balance — i.e., when to work and when to stop.
I love how King David acknowledges God’s perfect plans: “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).
Although David refers to property lines, this is a lovely image of God’s plan for balancing our lives. God has boundary lines established for us that are pleasant and manageable. He never meant for our lives to be a jumble of overcommitment. Rather, God’s plan is peaceful and ordered.
And in order to find that pleasant place, we need to have healthy boundaries on our time with lots of margin built in.
Margin plays an important part with a boundary, whether it’s on our property or in our lives. Margin creates safe places, adding beauty, breathing room and balance for the eye and mind.
I learned this concept when I took an editing class. The beauty of well-designed page isn’t just what you see, it’s also what you don’t see. The un-designed area, called white space, carries as much, if not more, impact as the words or graphics.
A significant value of white space is to make the page visually appealing so you want to read it. As our eyes scan a crowded page, our minds tell us it’s too much work and we disengage.
But a page with lots of white space invites you in. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic. It feels simple, doable, calm. White space gives the reader a mental break while at the same time drawing your attention to what’s most important.
And this is what a life with margin around boundaries does for us. When our lives are overcrowded with “content” and lacking white space, we will feel cluttered and confused. It’s hard to identify what’s most important because it all runs together in a blur.
But by creating balance in establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room. We give ourselves time to think, dream and plan. Busy gets seriously out-of-control without boundaries.
Yet finding balance is possible. Establishing healthy boundaries involves editing the content in our lives, carefully identifying what’s most important … what God is asking us to do today. Then as we remove what’s not ours to do, we can breathe a sigh of relief at the beauty that’s revealed in our lives.
In Doing Busy Better, Glynnis helps you examine your heart and your schedule in order to seek a healthy, holy, and enjoyable balance between work and rest. Most importantly, she shows you that your worth is found not in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest.
Glynnis has five mobile lockscreens you can download to be reminded of what God’s Word says about rest by subscribing here. You can also download a sample chapter of Doing Busy Better, and if you purchase a copy, be sure to redeem your receipt to receive a FREE companion Study Guide. Get the details here.
Glynnis Whitwer is Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and contributor to their Encouragement for Today devotional, reaching over a million women each day. She’s the author of nine other books, including Taming the To-Do List and I Used to Be So Organized. She and her husband, Tod, live in Arizona and have five young-adult children. Connect with Glynnis at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com where she encourages women to live with margin and room to breathe while still getting things done.
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