We’ve been looking at the idea of creating margins in our life… buffer spaces so that when things begin to get difficult we have the room to handle the difficulties. It’s like leaving your house ten minutes early in case of traffic, or building up a savings account in case a pipe bursts in your house. We can do it emotionally too… give ourselves enough rest and relaxation that when we do come across difficulties in life, we have the energy and capacity to handle them.
A Stranger’s Kindness
I was looking at the story of the Good Samaritan the other day. We probably know that story… A man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They robbed him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him for dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the bloodied man, he passed by on the other side. A little later, a Levite came down the road and when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side as well. But a Samaritan came down the road where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He stopped and bandaged his wounds. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Margins can Save, not Only Yours, but Another’s Life
The Samaritan in this story is remarkable, not only for stopping for a stranger, but for stopping for an enemy——the injured man was Jewish, and the Samaritans and Jews hated each other. But as I reread this story, I noticed something else that set the Samaritan apart: margins.
Perhaps the priest and the Levite who failed to stop weren’t full of bad intentions, perhaps they just had no margin for others in their lives. They felt they lacked the capacity to care for someone in need. However, the Samaritan had a different mentality. He didn’t only take the time, but he also paid for the man’s room and expenses. He already had the margins (physically and emotionally) to take the time, the energy, and even spend the money to care for another.
Creating margins is not just about preparing yourself for your own future disasters and absorbing your own difficulties, but also being effective in other people’s lives. Margins give us the ability to take care of people.
- What area of life could you build a margin in first? Which strategy would you use to make that happen?
- What do you need to say no to to be a healthier you?
- Do you currently have the capacity to help others in need? How can you create a lifestyle that allows for this kind of compassion?