We’re all desperately trying to achieve that ever-elusive state known as “life balance.” It seems like it should be so easy to master, yet it feels impossible to attain. We tend to think of the different areas of our lives as cups. You might have the following cups: God, family, work, self-care, health, and leisure, among others. We all want to give each cup the perfect amount of attention it is due, so in this example, attention and effort = the liquid in each cup.
We spend our time trying to fill each glass to matching levels, balancing them perfectly. Then we expect them to remain the same once we’re done, leaving each cup filled to its precise level, in a beautiful static state that we can effortlessly maintain for the rest of our lives, allowing us to find peace and live in harmony. In other words, balanced cups = life on easy street.
That’s a big, fat, honking lie.
Balance isn’t an elusive magical static state. It’s a verb, and one that requires constant, careful attention. When you realize that, everything changes. The cups imply we have to multi-task and focus on all areas at once. That’s a recipe for disaster. It’s imperative to approach balance the way a gymnast does a beam routine, learning to make our muscles work in harmony, developing skill, intention, and focus, and recognizing that when our everything in our body leans left, we must counterbalance somewhere else to stay upright.
This is difficult until we learn muscle memory and develop a series of routines that address the various songs on the soundtracks of our lives. When a gymnast performs a maneuver, that is where they devote their time and focus, only giving the attention that is absolutely necessary to other things. They’re constantly shifting and moving, creating beautiful shapes and pictures by focusing on their stunts (a.k.a. tasks) in the proper order, executing them with precision and intention, and then moving onto the next. Can you imagine a routine where they tried to perform every move at once? They would look like a quivering mass of Jell-O. Yet, we often try to do everything at once and devote a lot of energy to achieving that false, static balance.
God only granted us 24 hours per day, and we lose effectiveness when we try to cram too much into it or spread our attention too thin. You may need to counterbalance your priorities, depending on where you need to focus at the time. If you’re preparing to run a marathon, you’ll need to ramp up focus on nutrition and exercise, but you might have to cut back on Netflix or social engagements. If you have a sick kid, housework might go to the wayside so you can hold and comfort your child or go to appointments. You’re not less just because you can’t see your counters for a season.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 ESV – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Here’s a real-life example: I worked full-time during my full-time master’s program. At first, I desperately tried to balance my cups, but nothing worked, and I ended up making myself and everyone else miserable because of my unmet expectations. When God started corrected my perceptions and gave me the gymnast metaphor, I recognized I was trying to be everything to everyone and overbalancing in the task area, which activated my martyr complex.
I knew I needed to focus my time end energy on God, family, and school, so I had to assess my life for areas where I could offload weight to make that happen. For example, I knew I’d rather spend time with my family than clean or pilfer away my time on non-priority tasks, and my husband was exhausted from essentially single-parenting, so I stopped opening non-essential mail, and we hired someone to clean our house every week.
We also didn’t want to spend our precious family time cooking and cleaning, but we still wanted to eat healthily, so we relied on batch-prepped slow cooker freezer meal plans. My husband knew I needed to focus on school, but I missed the kids, so he kept them occupied for chunks of time, so I could work completely uninterrupted, therefore more efficiently, on homework and get back to them faster.
My point is, for every new thing you choose to add, you must reassess the other areas of your life for potential margin and find something to offload. What can you release or adjust to re-balance as you add the new? Can you delegate specific tasks, or can you temporarily divert your attention away from some other element to re-center yourself?
Yes. Yes, you can. It requires creativity, teamwork, and innovation, but you can do it!
Remember: You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Using the power vested in me, I hereby grant you permission to ask for help, and even expect it. God is also a constant source of help. Don’t forget about Him. Ever.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
My prayer for you: God, help this woman learn to gracefully shift the balance in her life. Open her eyes to the areas of her days that need more attention, and to the readjustments she can make to create margin for her shifting priorities. Help her accept your help and recognize the resources You surround her with. Amen.
You are loved.
What readjustments can you make to shift weight and create balance in your life? Please share in the comments below and inspire someone today!
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