Balance – is it ever possible? Can we ever find it?
It’s like the Holy Grail. Or the “X” mark at the end of a treasure map indicating we have reached the appropriate place. As if the unearthing of this great treasure – balance – would transform our lives, our loved ones, our schedules.
We’re sure everyone else has found it – just look at them. All organized with their jobs, families, sporting events, dinner menus. Prepared for anything, all calm and collected on the outside.
I’m not saying some haven’t done a great job of balancing – I’m just saying appearances aren’t everything.
Organization on the outside does not necessarily mean peace on the inside.
It’s not that balance is bad. It’s just that sometimes I wonder if our pursuit of balance hasn’t turned us into guilt-ridden pursuers of something we were never meant to have. An ideal we have placed on a pedestal to admire and envy, while we contemplate how we can best attain it.
I ask myself, “What is it about balance that is so appealing?”
If I picture balance in my life, I see a self-regulated, steadiness of schedule. And that “reigning in” of time allows me to enjoy and experience everything I want, without any segment of life suffering. I have divided each portion into exactly the right size. I have identified my wants/needs, and made time for all of them. Quiet time, family time, church time, ministry time, friend time…it sounds admirable, doesn’t it?
It’s perfect. I am pleased with my accomplishment. Gratified, delighted in my resourcefulness. Until it occurs to me that my “perfect” balance has taken on a “golden calf” kind of hue. A tint that closely resembles pride in my perfection…why, I might even think if you were more like me, you might be able to be this good, too! The pursuit of perfect balance doesn’t lend itself to Grace much. For myself or anyone else.
I know there are probably people who have excelled in balancing their lives – I just don’t know any. Or at least any who can sustain such highly esteemed balance for any length of time.
And, while I stand in admiration of my “golden hue” of balance – there’s no telling what I might be missing. While I am patting myself on the back after achieving such a sought after pinnacle, I might not see that someone else’s back needs a coat, or feet need shoes, or a single mom needs dinner — those things would throw me off balance any way.
So, honestly, should a balanced life even be our goal? Because if anyone else is like me, and I pray you’re not – but just in case you are – that balance could blind us to fulfilling the complete work of God in our life.
In my striving for balanced life, I might just trip over a chance to be Jesus to someone. I might be rushing so fast to get where I need to be that I don’t even notice broken hearts strewn all around me.
And that chasing of Holy Grail could also lead us down a rabbit trail of emotions that include guilt, desperation, failure – or even pride if we accomplish it for a period of time. We press, and compress, until we shape time into our ideal, but if one little thing doesn’t go as planned – everything explodes – our time frames, our goals, our tempers.
Because pursuing a balanced life will frustrate me to no end when the car breaks down on my busiest day, or I can’t find my keys. It could turn me into a veritable powder keg if everyone else doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, and now I’m running late.
Trying to maintain perfect balance could cause ugly words to fly out of my mouth if I’m expecting a spouse to meet needs they were never meant to meet – because isn’t that what they are supposed to do? Help pick up the slack?
As far as I can tell, Jesus did not live a balanced life — He lived a purposeful life. A committed, submitted, surrendered life – not a balanced one. There is no resemblance of balance – His was a life poured out – a relinquishing and forfeiting of Himself that guaranteed our destiny.
He didn’t spend a percentage of time on family, another percentage on work, another on ministry, with just enough time to indulge Himself. There was no self-indulgence, only God-indulgence. Even though He was pulled from all sides by those who loved Him, and those who hated Him, He was never pulled from His purpose.
A heart in constant communication with The Father can find itself anchored in peace, even though life is a whirlwind. Because He is steady – unfailing – unshakeable.
His scales were completely off balance. They tipped in our favor. The weight of our salvation weighed heavier on His heart than His comfort. The weight of our eternity weighed heavier than the weight of His pain.
So He balanced out our humanness and His God-ness with two arms stretched out and nailed on a cross. The scale and the cross – a precious resemblance. Fallen us on one side – Holy God on the other – and Him bringing Life in the middle.
In that reconciliation between the Divine and the created – we find an unbalanced Love. A “throw caution to the wind, I’d give up my life for you, I AM your God” kind of love, that sweeps across us, and through us, with a Holy reckless abandon that throws us completely off balance by its force.
So maybe the more worthy goal is not a balanced life, but a balanced heart.
A heart available, not bound to a strict and balanced schedule, with eyes to see needs, and ears to hear hurts. It has to be able to let a friend cry on her shoulder even if there is a pile of unfolded laundry between you, or to refocus on the man behind the counter at the car shop who might be having a worse day than us.
Or maybe the person who needs grace the most is us. It’s been days since we had two minutes alone to form a complete thought with no time to rest or renew. We demand so much and wind up being disappointed in ourselves.
We listen to the enemy, and believe him, when he tells us things would run smoothly if we were better, or stronger, or smarter. No grace – we allow ourselves no grace. Listening to any voice but God’s throws our hearts off balance. If we could just hear Him – He can restore and renew, even in the middle of racing to the next soccer game.
Let’s be honest, here – life IS crazy at times. There are seasons when no matter what we try to cut out, or back on, we will still be running from the time we get up to the time we lay down. We will have to work at jobs we dislike, or experience heartbreaks, or suffer consequences of someone else’s bad decisions. Kids might be late to school or sports or bed. There is no schedule for life. It comes at us hard and unrelenting, in spite of trying to hold on to balance.
This life, lived for Him, is not about balance – it is about how we can best glorify Him, isn’t it? How best we can make Him known, not just in our own busy schedules – but in the crazy lives of everyone around us. And we do that by listening and responding to Him. Even in the rushing and fluster of forgotten appointments or sick loved ones, we are still able to feel the touch of His hand and the calm of His voice.
“It’s okay, Child. I understand busy. Just remember – You are not alone in it. I am here. Let me surprise you with love and peace today.”
Striving for a balanced life focuses on schedules. A balanced heart focuses on God.
Crazy busy days, stressful jobs, overheated cars, unpaid bills – they throw a balanced life into chaos.
They throw a balanced heart to the feet of Jesus. A balanced heart takes all those trials, commits them to His hands, listens to His voice, and obeys His direction…and sometimes it just lays in His presence and cries – because it’s safe there.
Not that being at the feet of Jesus balances your life out – things might get crazier than before. But being at the feet of Jesus allows you to see scars. Nail holes that prove to you He weighed your worth and found you invaluable. Not balanced – Invaluable.
Worth every lash and thorn – worth it – you were worth it to Him.
A heart that surrenders a balanced life knows THIS life is but a breath. That job, those bills, that unrelenting schedule or heartbreak – they are not your home. This is not your home. This is temporary – breathe Him in, and allow His calm to wash over you in the middle of your crazy life.
He knows what it’s like to be hounded all day with everyone else’s needs put before your own. He knows what it is like to try to communicate with people who don’t understand you.
He understands transportation issues, like cars that break down, or boats that get caught in storms. He has a grasp on the pain of betrayal, and He knows what it’s like to be the butt of satan’s jokes.
And, He, more than anyone, understands sacrificing all for someone you love.
If you let Him – He’ll balance your heart.
Take a deep breath, even when you’re in a rush, especially when you are in a rush, breathe Him in deeply,
“Do not fear…I have redeemed You. I have called you by name (seriously – can you hear Him say your name?); You are mine! When you pass through the waters (or job loss, or heartbreak), I will be with you. and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire (or betrayal, or failure, or illness), you will not be scorched…For I AM the Lord your God, The Holy One…your Savior…you are precious in My sight…you are honored…and I love you.” Is. 43:1-4
He honors us. We don’t need balanced lives – we need balanced hearts – We need HIM.
He knew that we would – He had already weighed the pros and cons – and found us worth it.