When you Long for a Margin on your Life’s Paper


I don’t go that way anymore. It scares me. It really scares me.

There are daily reports of horrid accidents. Mile long automobile back-ups due to tragic accidents. The fire truck pulled in that day to block the accident, and an elderly couple almost slammed into the fire truck. I saw it. Daily.

As I approach the walls, my chest tightens. My stomach tightens. My breath feels caught right up in the middle. It’s probably one of my worst fears.

I had to go this way today.

As I enter, I tell myself, breathe. I tell myself, it’s all for a good cause. I tell myself, you are going to get through this. The clearing is just up ahead.


I try not to focus on the wall.

Go slow and steady.

18-wheelers fly by me, in that tight space.

My arms tremble.

No one says a word.

When this road construction is finished, we’ll have a new Walmart nearby and better highway access. All these walls will come down. Freedom. Life.

“Why do you hate the walls, Shelli?” I ask myself.

Well, O Soul, the walls are fixed. They don’t budge or bend. They’re too close. They trap me in. I feel squashed. I feel crammed. I feel fragile. I’m afraid I’ll hit them. I’m afraid another will hit me.

I want space. I want space for error. I want a margin. A margin with no holes. I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want to be the next one hurt. I don’t want to feel pain. I don’t want to die today.

O Soul, that sounds an awful lot like life. Wouldn’t you agree?

We want a margin on our life’s paper. One without holes.

But another friend has cancer. One is going through chemo. One just had a brain tumor removed and fears the fragments remaining will destroy her. One’s son died in an auto accident on the way to Disney World. One hurts every time he eats. One’s back pain is unbearable. One lives with daily unbearable dying pain and wonders when his last day will be.

And the path we take is often not our choice. We have to go that way … today. The walls are fixed. And as we approach, our chests tighten, our stomachs tighten, our arms tremble, our breath catches.

We maintain our focus. We go slow and steady.

We cling to our Jesus marginthe beautiful spacious One with holes and only One to make us whole.


We are going to get through this.

The clearing is just up ahead.

Real freedom. Real life.



What frightens you? How do you press through the fear? Do you have a favorite Scripture of encouragement?

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17 thoughts on “When you Long for a Margin on your Life’s Paper

  1. I find that the more frightened I get – and I am frightened, not of death, but of what lies along the way- that it helps me to go faster, to let the walls crowd in without time to fear, or even an eyeblink's time to swerve from danger.

    And if I am to hit the wall, best hit it going as fast as I possibly can. For then, maybe it will be the wall that breaks upon me.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/08/your-dying-spouse-44-stages-of-grief.html

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  2. You made me smile. I am definitely in your corner. I don't know about the strong arm, but I have been lifting 2 lb weights. 🙂 And you always make me smarter. I couldn't remember exactly who Jim Bowie was … I'm so ashamed. Every city in Texas has a school named after him. 🙂

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  3. Oh Shelli, I recognized Andrew in this… I love it–beautiful and comforting words. The verse I often quote when I'm afraid of my physical safety is: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. Knowing God will stay by our side no matter what happens gives me peace. I remember thinking about aging and all it may include and my heart started to race at the thought of all the possible scenarios (how writer-like to ask the what-ifs?…) and then the Lord reminded me He would be there too. Yeah, we can do this thing called life, all of it, together.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  4. The picture of the verse penned with your handwriting–I really like that. Could be on a greeting card. My mom's been gone now for 10 years; she died at 79. Her last few years Dad said she would often say, “What's going to happen to us?” Not in eternity, for she was born again, but the pathway to death, those years in between, the lingering. She wasn't in physical pain and had a strong mind, so it was a different type of suffering of losing her freedom due to poor health. She also said many times when hearing of accidents, illnesses, etc., “There are things far worse than death.” The fear we know the Bible tells us not to have. The worrying about tomorrow that we're not supposed to do. The what-ifs, shouldahs, and couldahs.

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  5. Yes, Wendy, we can get through this … get through our fears. I'm like you … if I stop and think too much about things to possibly come, or to inevitably come, should the Lord tarry, my heart will race, too. “One day at a time” is such a sweet saying …

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  6. Melodie, you gave me goose bumps. You did. My grandmother never talked about it much … but sometimes she'd say she felt like she might be headed to a nursing home soon. She was in much pain and her mind had started to go … but she didn't last long that way because she fell and broke her hip … she never recovered from that. The next day, she was reaching out her precious arms to someone we couldn't see …. 🙂 And I love the reminder not to worry. You and Wendy both stated the “what ifs” … Wendy said how like us as writers to think like that. 🙂

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  7. Summer, thank you for stopping by and commenting. You blessed my day! God did keep Job …. And you know, I don't know about you, but it's through the suffering, that we always try to avoid ironically, that we seem to draw closer to God. We don't want the sickness or pain because it hurts, but it's there that we really need God. Again, you have blessed me.

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  8. Shelli, I'm coming to the party late. What a beautiful post. No surprise there. I love your heart for those in your world who are struggling, hurting, bound in by difficult walls. I loved this line: “We cling to our Jesus margin—the beautiful spacious One with holes and only One to make us whole.” Such truth here. I love your thoughts here.

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  9. Thank you, Jeanne. You know, we as Christians are often made fun of for “clinging” to our faith. But … clinging is what helps us survive and thrive through the hard times. I'm so thankful to have someone to cling to through those times and through the good, easy times, as well. And you are never late to the party. You always make the party more special. Thank you. 🙂

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  10. I like how Wendy said that. The “what ifs” can also help us be thankful for reflecting on how God has provided for us all along–just not in the ways we thought. Love reading your blog, Shelli. Praying for you as ACFW conference approaches.

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