Several years ago, I bought a pair of “hooker” boots at the thrift store for $20. I felt fierce wearing them and they fit like a dream, but they just lived in my closet. Why? Because when I wear them my balance is all off. I feel like a little girl playing dress-up in her mother’s high heels. I wore them for this photo…
…and then Hubby videotaped me stumbling back to the house across the yard. [I was not impressed.] I’ve seen toddlers and baby giraffes taking their first steps with more grace. It’s miracle I didn’t face-plant in the mud!
We unconsciously balance stuff every day – our meals, our stress levels, our relationships, and that cup of tea in a hand already grasping a purse, a lunch bag and a set of keys! But we rarely understand what’s needed to achieve balance.
In science, an object is balanced if it is stationary or in a state of equilibrium. Forces on the object are cancelled out by forces in the opposite direction. The centre of gravity is the average position of force on an object. If the centre of gravity is mid-point, you’re not going to face-plant, but shift it, and you’ll have mud on your face! I could use lots of other scientific-y words, but I think you get the gist.
Balance is beautiful. Imbalance is muddy.
And figuring out how to find the centre of gravity – at least when it comes to balancing LIFE – is a continuous journey that usually involves a lot of mud! Often in uncomfortable places… It seems the harder we try to achieve balance, the more unattainable it becomes. We end up falling short, disappointing loved ones, burnt out and buried in feelings of guilt and frustration.
Store shelves are loaded with books on how to achieve it, filled with glossy photos and empty promises. Recently, I skeptically started to read an an article titled “Rethinking work-life balance” in an old Faith Today magazine. In it, the author shared three thoughts on why the problem isn’t about us, but about balance:
- balance isn’t possible or preferable for our lives;
- balance may not be biblical; and,
- balance doesn’t describe great contributors or performers.
First, we live in a fast-paced, chaotic and changing world. We can’t keep up. Second, Jesus lived radically in full surrender of all areas of His life, with constant communication with His Father, in the midst of busyness. He didn’t focus on compartmentalizing his responsibilities or pursuing order, but rather acted in obedience wherever God called Him to act. Third, those found in history books rarely lived tranquil lives, but rather pushed boundaries and pursued excellence.
The author was not advocating abandoning self-care or healthy relationships, nor was he against setting boundaries and managing time. He was advocating deciding what our core priorities are and using them to set sustainable rhythms in our lives.
I want my rhythm to be a Christ-centered life. Therefore, in the midst of chaos, I should remain fully engaged in the responsibilities He has for me, not what everyone else has for me. I need constant communication with God so I can discern the difference between the two. And I need to take time to rest and listen. Not new “advice”, but perhaps a new perspective.
Stop pursuing better balance. Focus on core values. And when you face-plant in the mud? I guess roll over and laugh.
The main thing God gets out of your life is not the achievements you accomplish, it’s the person you become. – Dallas Willard