Margin + Community + Where Does The Internet Fit

It is no secret that I have been absent from this space for the past two months. I could easily dismiss my absence and blame it on business or a lack of inspiration...but what began unintentionally quickly became a highly intentional step back. After two weeks of being unable to carve out time for writing posts I stepped away. I stepped back on purpose, with a heavy heart that was overwhelmed with many burdens and thoughts about the internet. But first let me back up a little bit...

I love blogging. I love social media. I love handmade / small businesses. All of these things find their life online...so by default I love the Internet right? Yes. I am amazed at the way this incredible technology can make any normal person into a wildly read author, a highly followed self taught photographer, or a successful business woman. It really does give me goose bumps. Yet through all these things I continued to be plagued with guilt and frustration...I would scroll through my blog feed and feel that there must be something more than what I was pouring HOURS upon HOURS into. I was longing for something that cannot be found on the internet...deep, personal, family like, face to face, tangible...connection.

What I began to realize is that while I was spending hours pouring all my free time into my blog, instagram, my etsy shop, graphic design work, and various other online endeavors I was totally shutting out my own community here in my city. 

I never made time for coffee dates with women from church (or at least no more than one a week) because I had more important things to do like make money, write a blog post, reply to emails, keep up with social media...network, promote, network some more, and reply to some more emails...it was sucking up my time in all the wrong ways. I was throwing myself into the wrong things, I was committing all my time to relationships that I am not covenanted to. 

I am covenanted to my husband. I am covenanted to my church family. I am covenanted to my own blood family. That is it...Does this mean I can't make time for work, or other friendships, or strangers? No! But it means that all these covenant relationships must be where my time goes first, and then the rest can go to the other relationships.

Woah buddy did this do a number on me...I had a dear friend from church say these words to me, which ultimately were used by the Holy Spirit as a call to step away and deeply process what these words meant for my online life. 

You need margin (dead space in your schedule/life for resting, thinking, playing, deep processing). When you are married, you need another measure of margin for your spouse, free time when you are available for that person to talk to you, do things together etc. You already know this.

When you are part of the church, you need more margins of time for the people within the church, to whom the Spirit leads you specifically, to build relationships with. You need margin to spend time with those who will minister to you, to let the older and wiser get to know you and speak into your life and for them to rub off on you. You also need time to minister to others. People you build relationships with to love, encourage, serve, etc. This church deal just requires a lot of time. You’ve heard it so many times. And none of us have to figure out up front exactly what we should do, or who we should give our time to. The time just has to be there, and the Spirit will lead you in your willingness.

Spirit led margin is the key. I was creating so many time fillers in my schedule I barely had enough margin for my husband and I to have a decent conversation at the end of every day. There simply was not space for me to sit and process on my own, pursue my husband, spend time with older women in our church, develop friendships with the women my age, as well as serve my church family and local community...there are only so many hours in a day unfortunately. 

So I took a step back and alongside my husband and some people I really love and trust I began to pick up every little time filler I had created for myself, analyze it, and determine where it should fall on my priority list. Some things were hard to have to put to the bottom of the list, and some were very easy to let go of. This blog has always and will always be dear to me, and while I do not have any intention of quitting the internet, this space is not quite as high on my priority list as it once was though it may not stay that way forever. 

I can say this with full confidence though, I have felt such freedom in stepping back. The Lord has brought inspiration, focus, passion and drive to areas I was not expecting, like my handmade business, Oh Simple Joys, and he has called me to take it easy in other areas like this space. He has deepened friendships with those in our church and has shown me that obedience to his calling is worth it. 

So what does all this mean for Oh Simple Thoughts? Well it means that sometimes this space may be quiet, and my instagram may be where I connect online for awhile. It may mean that all my free time goes to my Etsy shop and creating handmade goods that I am passionate about. I am still not sure what it means to be honest, I just know that my priority must be to care for my covenanted relationships first, and then my online relationships.

So here is to a new way forward, freedom in obedience and margin!