When my youngest child, Cassi, was only three months old, we moved from north of Los Angeles in the high desert to San Diego. When we were looking for a home in San Diego, the market was very hot. We had made a great profit in one year in our old home so we knew we could put a good down payment towards a new one.
Every time a home went on the market, by the time we got there, it had been sold except for one that had had a fire in it. It was pretty bad. We were kind of giving up hope when we found a brand new tract of homes. It so happened that one home had just fallen through so we bought it!
We packed up all of our stuff and children and drove to San Diego to move into our brand new home. I remember writing the first mortgage payment and thinking, "Wow, this is a lot of money!" Everyone in our neighborhood had just moved in and were all busy decorating their homes with professional decorators. I wanted a gorgeous, decorated home. I couldn't put all of my old furniture in this brand new home!
I begged Ken to give me a monthly allowance that I could spend decorating our home. He did but he sure wasn't too happy about me spending so much money on our home. Around that time, my mother-in-law had given me a book by Dr. Richard Swenson called Margin. I put it in a bookshelf.
After several years of running myself ragged trying to decorate my home, take care of four young children, attend a Bible study, cooking and cleaning on top of Ken being gone half of the year, I got very sick. God had slowed me down. I had time to read the book and it convicted me!
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?
Much of this pain is in our relational life: to self, to others, to God. We miss margin in many areas. But we require it in our relationships. We need to get it back...Why, in such a prosperous age, is it necessary to sedate so many?
True, we get to places faster, but we have more places to go. A net loss. We have devices to help us clean, but we have more things stuffed into more square footage to clean. A net loss. Hasn't the light bulb given us more time because now we can plan activities during the evening that were previously limited to daylight hours? Yes. The light bulb has given us more capacity to be busy, to produce, and to fill up schedules in the evening when before all we could do was sit around the table and read or sit by the fire and read or sit with family and friends and visit until it was time for all to go to bed. A net loss.
Economics will solve some of our suffering, but nothing more. And solving our suffering is not the goal of the Christian life; walking in righteousness is...Our true needs are few and basic: We need God, love, relationships with fellow human beings, meaningful work, food, clothing, and shelter.... Christ came to save me from sin, not from sixty-degree homes, rainy weather and delayed dinners.
This book got me moving on a completely different path. I no longer needed to keep up with the Jones'. I read Tightwad Gazette and any book I could get my hands on in order to live more simply and be more content. Plus, dealing with so many health problems has helped me to hold on loosely to the things of this earth, since they are all going to burn one day, and to grasp on tightly to Jesus and His beautiful ways. Joni Eareckson Tada is a quadriplegic and lives in constant pain, yet she believes, "It was no longer a matter of being content with His plan for my life; it was a matter of finding Him utterly and supremely the source of ALL contentment. This, to my delight, would give Him the greatest glory."
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world,
and it is certain we can carry nothing out.