The title of this blog post comes from a book which I, unfortunately, have not read yet, but it speaks of allowing time in one’s life for, among other important things, the work of God to take place. It is called, “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives”, by Richard Swenson, MD. (2004) [“Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by. This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.”] I guess I shouldn’t actually recommend it to you without having read it myself, but it’s out there for you to consider.
Towards the end of our time in Norway, it became obvious to Paul and I that there had been numerous times during our stay where either we had been invited for coffee/tea/meal with friends or had invited friends for coffee/tea/meal on the spur of the moment or, at the very least, with not a ton of advance warning. In doing so, the invitee accepted the possibility of rejection, and the invited who accepted the invitation needed to put aside any minor plans or needed to not have filled up their calendar with no chance of spontaneity.
I can say with certainty that at no time when we accepted such an invitation did we regret doing so. Every moment we visited with friends and cultivated our relationship was valuable time. Leaving our schedule open for such opportunities, although easier in a foreign country than in the US and easier being without children, was intentional. In fact, there were several times when I knew that if I brought a cake to, say, our Wednesday night Bible Studies, people would stay and visit. So, I did. And they did.
Our experience in Moss was richer because of the friendships that were strengthened by personal contact and time. From the first evening of our arrival when four friends came to our door with flowers and a hearty ‘Velkommen!” to the last evening when two friends had made a spontaneous invitation to us for dinner two days prior, we were thankful for the chance to get to know more fully the people with whom we shared a common community or common friends or a common God.
**We were invited for tea after a Wednesday night Bible Study, and we all visited until 10:30 pm.
**We invited friends home for coffee after a musical production we all were attending, but since they had a dog and needed to get home (which we totally understand, don’t we Rocky??), they hosted us at their home instead.
**We were invited for a Sunday afternoon walk in a neighboring seaside town, were hosted for lunch, and our friendships were strengthened.
**While on the phone with a friend who we hadn’t seen or spoken to in ten years, we were invited to their home for a weekend. So, Paul and I talked about it and made the plans (which had not been considered up to this point) to go to their place for a weekend the following month.
**We were invited for coffee following a church service and stayed for a couple of hours getting to know several more people.
**Our time in Moss was limited so we realized that, in order to greet as many people as we would like, we needed to not allow weeks to pass before considering inviting people over to our home. I would ask on a Sunday whether some friends could come for dinner the next evening or later that week. I would ask on a Wednesday whether a couple of ladies could come to my home for coffee on Friday.
I guess all of this is to say that now that we are back in Grand Forks, we plan to continue in this same manner. Please, dear friends, hold us accountable to this. I know it may be easy to drift back into the same pattern we developed over years and years, but with a plan to be intentional and to leave margin in our lives, we can be open to more possibilities and freedom to experience a richer life.