Friday, April 19, 2013

Margin- Chapter 7

A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 7: "Margin in Emotional Energy"

- At the end of the previous chapter, the author pointed out that we need margin in emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances.  In the present chapter, he deals with the first of those.

- At the start of this chapter he makes the case that sufficient emotional energy can help us maintain margin in other areas or it can make up for a lack of margin in those areas.  Therefore, it is quite important.

- While I agree that emotional energy is in a "constant flux," so are the other areas: we make and spend money, we rest and exert energy, we make or spend time.  However I think another point he brought out bears on this- emotional energy is more difficult to quantify.  I know when I am getting tired.  I know when money is being spend or time is running out.  I know when I feel emotionally drained, but I often don't recognize that emotional energy is dwindling until it is gone.  I think that is the most provoking thought of the chapter for me, but I can't say I've figured out how to analyze my current emotional reservoirs.  (Maybe I should ask my wife!)

- In my opinion, he included a lot of psychological thinking in this chapter. I'm not going to take time to dissect everything with which I didn't agree.  I think nearly all of the problems he mentioned are sins that need to be met with the blood and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

- He gave 14 "prescriptions" to restore margin in emotional energy: cultivate social supports, pet a surrogate, reconcile relationships, serve one another, rest, laugh, cry, create appropriate boundaries, envision a better future, offer thanks, grant grace, be rich in faith, hold fast hope, and love.

- "Whether family and friends or community and church, the existence of intact, functioning, healthy, nurturing systems of social support are as good a resource for replenishing depleted energy reserves as can be found."  (Page 86)  I would add that many of these support systems are "broken" or often have serious problems and therefore do not give the aid they should.  In fact, instead of adding to emotional energy, they take away from it.

- "One of the best ways to heal your own emotional pain is to focus instead on meeting the needs of others." (Page 87)  How often have we tried to be a blessing to someone else, and we leave feeling that we received more of a blessing than we gave out?  I am convinced this is true.

- After reading about the man who paid for the next person's toll, I thought I would recommend that you might want to start paying others' tithe for them.

- Anyone up for trying a "laugh-every-four-minutes" day? 

- Couple of great quotes from the "boundary" section: "To be able to say no without guilt is to be freed from one of the biggest monsters in our overburdened lives."  (Page 91)  In the past, I couldn't do this.  I am growing in my ability to give a no.  "Ask yourself, 'Do the people closest to me love my no as much as they love my yes?' " (Page 91)  There is a problem if people can only take a "yes" from us.  I have learned that the problem is with them, not with me (in that instance).

- Which of these prescriptions do you already know are a great help to you? I know that I gain great encouragement from friends, but I have seen that I have to consciously do my part in maintaining friendships. Otherwise, I will overlook my friends, and then wonder where my friends are. Also, rest is probably the best thing of all for me. After a good night's sleep or a nap, things look so much better than they did a few short hours before.

- Where there any new ideas that you think will help you personally? I think creating boundaries is a good idea, but I had trouble thinking of specific ones that would help me emotionally. The way our schedule is now, we try to have a date on Thursday nights. I realized that I can set a firm boundary around that in order to protect it.  Another "new" idea that I need to implement more is offering thanks for the positives.  It is easy for me to dwell on just the negatives.

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 6
Discussion on Chapter 8


  1. My take away really revolved around the thoughts on the areas of social support that replenish and then our ability to replenish others by meeting the needs of others.

    The church really plays a big part in replenishing emotional strength via spiritual food and fellowship. It reminded me of my need to stay engaged in church services before, during and after for the true source of strength that it is. Also, my need to purposefully encourage others in my church. Its easy to speak on superficial, or even worldly things (sports, politics), but there is a need to be specific in encouraging one another with the Word of God.

    I am all for laughing every four minutes. Maybe I'll carry around a picture of a certain missionary I know and look at it every five minutes. :)

    1. You really think Thad is going to find that funny?

  2. Jacob, I thought you had a good point about the many support systems (family, church, community, etc.) being broken and often taking away emotional energy rather than replenishing it.

    Jacob, I also agree with the fact that we often receive the greater blessing when trying to be a blessing to another person. I saw this often when involved in the nursing home ministry during my graduate studies.

    Rx. 4: During an internship of mine, the assistant pastor said in a meeting, I'm pretty discouraged, let's go soul-winning. It was not what I had expected to hear, but there is an emotional satisfaction when you get to share the Gospel with others and seek to bring Christ into the lives of others.

    Rx. 5: I so agree on this one. When I'm discouraged or depressed, I know the two things that are the greatest help: my pillow and my Bible.

    Rx. 6: There's enough in the world to give us a 4-minute laugh each day. Sounds like good medicine. Bro. Alan, you beat me to the picture comment ;0)

    Rx. 8: I'm still working on boundaries. I'm getting better at it, but can be a challenge.

    Rx. 10: Offering thanks is a big one that I find helpful. In a matter of two weeks my wife lost two grandparents and flew back for the funerals, and while she was gone my daughter was admitted to the hospital for 5 days with severe kidney infections. It was taxing emotionally, but it really helped to look at the blessings from the Lord through that time. We had some friends from America staying with us that were able to help with the cooking and kids while Stephanie was away. Then when they left and Abby went into the hospital, Jacob and Viola were a huge blessing by taking care of our two boys so I could stay with my daughter at the hospital. Even through the last miscarriage, we had so many things to thank God for, which was a help emotionally. There's a reason that in Romanian, the word for thankful and content is the same. They go hand-in-hand.

    Not any "new" ideas, but I really think that mediation on Scripture and training ourselves to think biblically is one of the best exercises to have emotional health. What we believe will directly affect how we think, which in turn will result in how we feel.