A book changed my life in the ’80s. It was Margin, by Richard Swenson. At the time, I was running at breakneck speed trying to do everything and please everyone. I didn’t want to miss out on any possible opportunity, either for my family or me. I was the poster child for FOMO (fear of missing out) before it was even a term. Margin exposed that living an overloaded life was really no way to live. Swenson wrote:
“We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now proexhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore?” (Swenson, Margin, p.30)
Something’s got to give. If we continue to live at a ridiculous pace, if we continue to be tethered physically and emotionally to our phones, if we remain permanently exhausted, our relationships will suffer irreparable damage. We may not see it for five or ten years, but eventually, the damage will become crystal clear.
This problem of overload and perpetual busyness will not fix itself. If anything, it will only get worse. The culture around us is not slowing down. Even slight progress will require extreme vigilance. If you see this as a problem in your life, consider the following broad suggestions as a starting point:
- Pare down your schedule. Eliminate extras. Commit only to the most important priorities.
- Deal with your phone. Do whatever it takes to reduce its place in your life. Put it away when people are around.
- Give the people in your life unrushed, undivided attention. Build this as a habit and a top priority. You will never regret it. Guaranteed!
- Slow down. Stop the exhausting habit of always rushing. Take your time. Arrive early. Create some space in your life for silence and rest. Life should be enjoyed, not endured!
It may sound harsh, but the issue is one of priority. Are the people in our life our priority, or is our constant stimulation and relentless pace of life our priority?
Love takes time. Love simmers. Love lingers. Paul wrote, “And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) Create space in your life for love.