Have you ever read a book that was inviting and endearing, but the words ran all the way to the edge of the book? Probably not. Stories without margins are nearly impossible to enjoy reading. It’s the same with life stories. Margin is not the wasted space on the page where more words could have gone if only we would knuckle-down and work harder. Margin is the place where the words we carefully compose and place show their best. When we read, we rarely notice the margins, unless they aren’t there.
Our stories shine because of the margin that others often don’t even notice. But if we forget about the importance of the margin, if we endlessly erase it to cram more and more content into our stories, we lose readability. We lose credibility.
It’s the sign of a cheaply-made book, the work of an amateur, easily and advisedly ignored.
Margin makes your story clear, legible, and beautiful. At least, if your story really is beautiful, the margin will not contradict it. It will enhance and testify to its worth and beauty, to how compelling it is.
Margin-making is an act of faith. It is a surrender to a providential God. It is a humble act. It is ceding power from ignorance to omniscience. It is childlike, hopeful, brave, and beautiful.
You will today be told you need to do a hundred more things to qualify as productive, as righteous, as loyal. You will hear it said, infer it from passive aggressive counselors, and probably say it to yourself on repeat all day. You will be invited to do more, then cajoled, then shamed.
You need to think this. You need to do that. You need to do more. More. More. More. More!
I don’t know about all those details in your life. I don’t know which of the thousand things you must absolutely ignore and say “no” to today in order to accomplish what you actually should do. But I know this.
You need to figure out what you’re called to, the smaller and more precise the better, and then do that with all you’ve got. And you need margin to make it stand out.
If you have a reasonably clear vocation and a somewhat healthy margin, you will have to defend it like the walls of Troy. Beware of well-meaning Greeks bearing “gifts” of guilt-inducing demands.
If you have no margin, or have lost it to those cunning Greeks, you must go to war to reclaim it.
And I’ll say this to those who have lost, or are holding on to, a little margin.
Fight. Fight as though your life depends on it.