Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Saying more with less (Day 8)

When I was in high school (and admittedly college too), I used to have the most terrible time trying to keep my papers and essays within the allotted page range. While my classmates would lament over trying to somehow write a paper that consisted of FIVE WHOLE PAGES, I would silently wonder how I was supposed to keep mine to ONLY FIVE PAGES.

I had a little trick I used for remedying my wordiness: I would expand my margins, just a smidge. Oh I didn't go crazy, nothing the teacher's eye would consciously notice; just enough so I could say a little bit more, cram a few more words onto the page.

Unfortunately, my inability to be concise, my tendency to encroach into the margins? It hasn't stopped since then.

So I expand a little bit. I let boundaries and margins loosen, because then I can just do a few more things. Meet up with a few more friends. Minister to a few more kiddos. Read a few more blogs, take a few more pictures . . . And before I know it, my life looks like a page where the writing extends right out to the edges. 
Which is all well-and-good. I mean, it's not like I'm filling my time and life with anything that's not "good." But margin makes things easier to read. Much like a page in a book, our lives are read more easily with room for the eye to breath.

Because here's the thing about margin: it forces us to make choices. If I had written my papers without expanding my margins, I would have had to edit my words. To go back and read and re-read and figure out what wasn't essential for conveying my point. How could I say the same thing with fewer words? And in actuality, by cutting out what didn't strengthen my argument, by removing unnecessary adjectives or repetitive points, I would have written a much stronger and more compelling essay.

And aren't we all writing a story with our lives? Shouldn't I edit my story to convey my most essential argument? Does buying new fall boots or spending hours on Pinterest write the story I am trying to pen with my life? Or does it weaken my argument by cluttering my story unnecessarily, distracting people from the things I want my life and story to say?

Because I want my story to speak of something bigger. To cry for justice, to love orphans, to speak of the extravagant love and grace of my Savior. And I need to figure out which pieces of my life strengthen that story, and which detract from it by rambling on incessantly. Because those margins are there for a reason. White space, room to breathe . . . that is where I stop and God begins. Where people look at the gap between my story and HIS story and see an Author who is moving powerfully to love and care for the marginalized. In the space, they will see a Jesus who loves dearly and who covers me with His mercy and gentleness daily. 

So what can I cut out? How can I edit my life to speak more powerfully and write more compellingly?

How can we say more with less?


  1. Can't tell you how much I love this. I so, so, so get it. Man alive.

  2. I saw this little video yesterday and thought of you and this series. The may even use the word margin? Anyway, please consider watching it. It might help lead you toward finding some space http://www.incourage.me/2012/10/7-month-7-stress.html


  3. You know that feeling when you feel like someone wrote something for or is talking about you? I felt that way with this post. Even more...the photo of the page with no margin...July 6 is my birthday. This little blog series comes on the tail of a church series that had me pondering many of the same questions about margin. Maybe I should listen to this big ol' slap upside my head?!

  4. Even the Lord had his margins...Mark 6:31. To be the best for him we have to take care of ourselves. This was a great post !

  5. "So what can I cut out? How can I edit my life to speak more powerfully and write more compellingly?

    How can we say more with less?"

    I love this. And I want my life to say more with less. This little gem is already rolling around in my head. Thank you for this post.

  6. I wanna first say, good job with keeping up with your posts so far! I found this one to be especially insightful as to your coonection between your high school self and now. I'm glad you're on this journey of discovering margin and I pray you will find it, as well as the peace of embracing it.

  7. I am reading this in my morning quiet time, and there is so much here to take with me through the day.

  8. I am loving this 31 days of margin. It is making me think - a lot! :)


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