stepping off the hampster wheel

      This morning as I was laying in bed  sipping on my coffee, feeling the spring breeze blow through the window, listening to a morning dove,  I found myself again savoring what I call the “margin” in my life. 

Margin:    to live in a rhythm that includes periods of productivity and periods of restoration and refreshment.  Not to live with margin means you’re denying your God-given design to get regular rest.”

Discipleship Journal May/June 2009

It has not always been that way…

I (DM)  grew up on  120  acre dairy farm, milked 18 Holstein dairy cows, twice a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   I am also a  first-born.     I got married when I was 21. Three years later there we had two daughters. When I was 29,  I decided to go back to school, where upon we had another daughter and then a son.  Working full- time, going to school part-time, life was a blur.   One day  the high school youth group leader  approached me with an offer….

Doug, I think you would make a great  high school leader.“   It was a 2 evening a week commitment minimum. I joined.

In addition, the church we were then attending had weekly  Saturday work day construction projects.  I went to every one.

     Did I mention, I was also a hard-core people pleas-er?    There was  such a strong craving for people’s approval, I rarely said “NO” except  to my wife.  

        Three years later (I was 31)  things started to unravel….

Here’s the  picture  I posted in front of my desk :

 You can be busy going nowhere….fast


My wife said to me something had to change.  Through tears she told me she could no longer keep up the harried pace of our lives.





For a people pleaser like me, I did the hardest thing I could ever remember doing. I had to look several people in the eye and tell them I could no longer participate in those “good activities”

I stepped out of every commitment, everything!!!!!!!!!!

It was the best decision of my life.

A water shed moment, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

As I attempted  to point my life in a new and different direction, I felt like the captain of a large oil tanker, trying to make a  u turn.

God used two books @ the time to help me get my bearings…

When I relax I Feel Guilty by Tim Hansel

and Ordering Your private World by  Gordon McDonald.

Would highly recommend both.

Flash forward 25 years…

I’m still busy…  there is still a “people pleasing bent in my life, but it does  not  control me. There is one person in particular in  my  life who don’t like me too much because I don’t cave in to his  manipulative ways.

Oh well.

My life has margin.

I have to think long and hard before I  add another “good thing”  to  my life.

So to my fellow, driven, tired, frustrated, and harried  travelers on this journey called life here are some  words, I regularly ponder.

They were  written over 3000 years ago by a farmer/poet named David:

It is vain that you rise up early, going late to bed, eating the bread of anxious toil…for the Lord gives to his beloved sleep (can also be translated, gives to his beloved even in his sleep”)

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog. DM

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3 Responses to stepping off the hampster wheel

  1. micey says:

    i heart margin! it is definitely worth striving for.

  2. lisalassas says:

    Love the David quote! Can you give me chapter and verse? I would like to look it up. I had a “child’s book of Bible stories,” published in the 50s, as a child. (Old Testament tales). I have long thought that the stories of David– and the pictures– somehow imprinted something on me as a very young child. I am not at all certain that it is a coincidence that I ended up marrying someone who looks like the (good looking, Middle Eastern) guys in the book, that my husband is a guy who spent a good 10-15 years of his life shepherding lambs through the mountains, dressed like the people in that book, who grew up to somehow, unconsciously, echo some of the wisdom of David in his way of being…
    I will look up that verse and shoot you an e-mail. I hadn’t realized your hubby had also done time as a farm boy. how cool is that! 🙂 DM

  3. Pingback: Keeping Order In My Private World | I also live on a farm

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