Aug18

Finding More Grace as a Parent

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Photograph by Reggie Joiner

Everyone thinks grace is a great idea. Who doesn’t want unconditional love?

You long for it in your marriage, your kids long for it from their parents. But living it out? Well, that’s another thing entirely, isn’t it?

So, how do you become more grace filled? How do you ensure your patience isn’t exhausted before breakfast, that your kindness extends to all situations and that you continue to believe the best about the people you love the most?

For me, grace doesn’t come naturally. I need to work at it.

Here’s how I tried to exhibit more grace daily:

I prayed about it.

I read my Bible more.

I tried harder.

I made New Year’s resolutions.

I found accountability partners.

I apologized to my wife and kids when I lacked grace.

And all of that helped a little. But none of it really changed the game for me.

Then, a few years ago, I stumbled on the one factor that in my experience, makes the biggest difference in my mood, my disposition, and my ability to sustain a grace-filled spirit:

Margin

What’s margin? Margin is the white space in your life. It’s the down time when no one is making demands of you. It’s space to breathe.

It’s eight hours of sleep. It’s down time in my calendar and taking a day off. It’s living at the pace we were created to live at.

When I have margin in my life, I’m more grace-filled. I’m less edgy, I’m more sympathetic, I’m kinder. I’m more generous. I laugh more. I love more deeply.

I have to work at margin. If I’m not careful, I’ll cheat sleep, fill up all the white space in my calendar with more meetings and more commitments. And when I do that, I suffer.

When I have margin in my life, I display more grace. It is the single biggest influencer on my mood and disposition.

That’s my secret.

I’m not going to suggest that this will work for everyone, but I’m curious. Between work, driving the kids to every commitment on the planet, an active social calendar, homework, cooking and housework, how much margin do you actually have in your family? Would scheduling some white space in your calendar increase or decrease your stress? All I know is what it does for me.

I’d love to hear from you today. Has margin helped you? What did you cut out? How has that helped you live a more grace-filled life? Or, do you have another secret?