Space and Margin
Have you ever tried torescuea drowning person in the open sea? They can clobber you just to stay afloat. It’s pure survival instinct.
Have you seen a toddler sitting quietly on his daddy’s lap for say, five or ten minutes without fidgeting? Toddlers are fascinated by their surroundings. They’re always on the lookout for adventure. Before you know it, they’re inching their way down from daddy’s lap. [restrict] He starts walkingaimlessly checking out people,first in awe then starts smiling; sometimes boldly or shyly (depending on his personality), and point his chubby finger. If outside, sometimes the child would run after a cat, a dog, or a butterfly, put dirt in his mouth and instinctively spits it out. If he is not allowed to get down and explore his world, he’ll start fidgeting, spreading out his arms wailing for freedom. The most amazing thing is in his wild adventure he always looks back to his daddy (or mommy) just to be sure he’s still there. We see it in church lots of times. We all smile knowingly and silently agree, “Oh, he’s so cute!”When he gets his fill of his mini quest, heturns back to his daddy, beaming. His daddy picks him up, hugs and kisses, and big smiles. It’s a tender moment, making the reunion divine.
So why is it that when we get older, we begin to control our children, our spouses, and everyone we interact with? Are we afraid of drowning? That to survive we clobber them and keep them under the water just to stay afloat? I use the word ‘clobber’ here loosely because when we keep on controlling or fixing our loved ones, we are emotionally punching the life out of them. We become bullies hiding behind our belief system of being a caring person. We seem to be addicted to fixing our loved ones as if we’re nicely put together. When we believe we must protect our loved ones, we keep them on leash, like a tethered lion, for fear they’d run free and leave them behind? Tethered lions are more vicious than free ones in the wild.
How did we become fixers? Well, because our mothers taught us as their mothers taught them and further back generations. To change our thinking, we can start parenting ourselves. Good parenting gives the child a space to explore his or her world and margin to create their emotional and spiritual intelligence. Yes,at that early age! They are smart people, only smaller. By the time he’s an adolescent, he knows exactly when he needs to restore the margin in her life. He knows when it’s time to protect his emotional reserves from unnecessary depletion, and will replenish the supply at regular intervals.
I’m a workaholic. This past two weeks, I failed to check the margin in my emotional reserves. I knew I was losing it that a no brainer nearly pushed me to the edge. Leaning back in my seat, I looked outthe window – “Man I really could use a drink!” When I heard myself think that, I knew I was in trouble. I needed space. I needed margin. I needed to be restored… beside the still water, as the psalmist penned.I sat quietly and let the tears fall…
Dr. Swenson, in his book, the Margin, writes, “Sometimes we laugh so hard we cry. Other times we just cry. Crying is a form of emotional diuresis. As long as it is not an indication of a deeper depression, crying can have a salutary health benefits. According to some studies, those who cry more often get sick less often. A good cry releases a burdensome load of emotional pollution.”
Humor is a medicine. It tastes better than pills (or that drink), it works as well and it costs less. I needed to laugh and the movie, Lethal Weapon, always had that effect on me. Such an odd couple! A young widower (Mel Gibson) with a death wish and an older detective (Danny Glover), a control freak who takes bubble bath (cracks me up) and can’t wait to live it up when he retires. I know the movie is loaded with expletives, but drowning people don’t know what they’re saying. In the end, the odd couple gave each other space and margin so they could work together saving lives. [/restrict]