I was just vacuuming my living room thinking about balance. No, they’re not really related. But sometimes when I vacuum, my thoughts run deep. Weird I know. Balance. Webster defines it as this…
“the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall. The ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling. A state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts, or have an equal or proper amount of importance.”
I always had a strong opinion about this idea of balance. It was very much presented to me(or at least this is how I interpreted it) as a spiritual matter. Our lives should remain in balance. I always just thought it was a biblical principal that I needed to adhere to. If life was in balance then obviously I was right where I was supposed to be. Walking with Christ the way a Christian girl, and woman, should. I would know how not to tip my scales and I could be in control of the weight on either side at all times. Well, that seems like a lot of pressure. Let’s just say with age and exploration of what this word really means, I’ve changed my perspective. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you agree and this is freeing you or you totally disagree with me and want to put me back in my place. Either way I think it’s worth talking about.
I was engaged to my husband at 19, married at 20. I dropped out of college to work full time doing who knows what. I had several jobs and they were important to me, but nothing I saw myself doing long term. I had little steady ambition. I’m a dreamer. One day I wanted to ride horses professionally, the next I wanted to be a missionary. Two months later, a stay at home mom, but oh wait, maybe I want to be a nurse instead. But I can’t stand the sight of blood. So scratch that one. I could be a flight attendant and travel the world or a world class horse trainer. I could be a psychologist or social worker or maybe a free spirit who just wants adventure. I never could decide. I knew I wanted to be a mom. I was already a wife so check that one off my list. I’m a bit of a free spirit. Once my husband finished school at SMU I went back to school. My 4th college in 4 years. Ouch. I finished with a degree in Sociology, basically because it was easy and met most of my credits I had transferred in. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard. I just flat did not know what I wanted to do with my life besides be a mom. So, from the outside looking in, my life didn’t look very “balanced.”
I became a mom in 2006. It was the best thing ever. Hard? Yes. But the very best kind of hard. I was finally doing something I knew I was meant to do. Our marriage had been pretty seamless up to that point. Our first year was fun. We ate Wendy’s all the time and had the most ridiculously low credit card balance every month. We were young and broke and stupid. We had no idea we would be growing up together in ways we never imagined possible. Enter parenthood. That first year was hard. We fought and argued and could not seem to find middle ground with how to do this thing together. Two backgrounds. Two styles of parenting. How do we do this oneness thing with a kid in the mix? It was hard. But, we came out better because of it. Closer. Then, kid #2. Not as hard but still, different. Life had changed but it was still manageable. I still folded all my towels and put them away facing the same direction. I cleaned the house, including the baseboards(yes…INSANE) every single week. I was on top of life. Then, Lila showed up. Chaos ensued and life took on a whole new form of crazy. We had so much fun and loved our family of 5, but laundry and dishes and clean toilets took a backseat. And they still do. Not very balanced.
Suddenly we were juggling. Outmanned and outgunned. It’s survival at this point. 3 kids, job stuff, church, sports, elementary school, homework, school projects, diapers, toddler tantrums, navigating friend ships and play dates and fitness and racing. Sometimes it all came crashing down around us. Other days we had it under control. 3 kids changed everything for us. My towels are now folded whatever which way, and I’ve decided as long as they get put away clean I don’t care. But, from the outside looking in, our life probably doesn’t look very “balanced.”
Remember the dreamer thing? Yea, so this past year I decided to put some feet to some dreams. I was a very young married momma. I had a passion to be a mom and my kids are tops, but over the years I have found a deep desire to chase some new found dreams as well. I wanted my kids to see a mom with passion and dedication and work ethic. A mom with ambition. So, I decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer. I’m deeply passionate about fitness and relationships. This seemed like a career that combines both. So, it’s required a great deal of sacrifice. Other area’s of our life are up in arms and crazy. Layers of crazy. But, we both(me and Rob) feel as though we are exactly where we’re supposed to be. From the outside looking in, our lives may not look very “balanced.”
I’ve decided this notion of balance isn’t really very fare. Remember the definitions? “The state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall.” Hmm. Do not fall huh? What would a life look like without ever falling? What would all of these circumstances over the last 13 years of our marriage look like if we never fell? Would we be in the place spiritually we are today? Would our marriage be as healthy(NOT perfect mind you…..but very healthy) as it is now if we had never fallen or had moments of crazy imperfectly imbalanced moments? I don’t think it would.
I think chasing balance is chasing a performance driven life. If I can just keep my scales even, life will be good. I’ll be good. But would I need anything other than my own efforts? Would I need a Savior to pick me up and brush me off and remind me that I NEED Him in the very deepest of ways? If I’m constantly striving for balance, then I am stressed…ALWAYS. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s attainable. Are we to have boundaries? Absolutely. Should we use wisdom in how we spend our time and relationships? No doubt. Exercising wisdom and putting boundaries in place to keep ourselves healthy are one thing, striving to never fall is a completely different concept. I don’t want a life that is without failure. I don’t want perfect. It’s too much. I want imperfect and lessons and more of Jesus. I have gotten more of Him in the pits of my life than I have on the mountaintops. Yes, I can feel close to Him on those mountains, He made them after all. But in the depths? That’s where I connect and am reminded of my humanness and insane need for a Savior. It’s where life gets real and we get to relate to one another. It’s where life happens.
So, what do we do with this? I think we let ourselves off the hook. I think we let God be the one who reveals to us if something in our life is out of whack and needs some tweaking. We stop looking at everyone else through eyes of judgement and assuming other people are out of “balance.” We can take a look at our lives, ask for wisdom and discernment to know when to go for something and when to take a step back. We can trust that unless we feel a deep sense of doubt over something, maybe it’s the right thing for us. Even if it looks insane to the world looking in. Maybe this idea of balance isn’t really what we’re to be striving for. Maybe it’s just Jesus we need to be striving for and in doing so, He will reveal what needs to stay and what needs to go. Just a thought.
Maybe you’re like me and have always thought you needed to strive for a life that’s contantly in balance. Maybe you are working and sweating and stressing and trying desperately to find it, but you find yourself fn the midst of dirty diapers, and endless stacks of dishes and Pinterest staring you in the face telling you that what you’re doing isn’t enough. Girl, let yourself off the hook. Quit striving for perfection. It’s ok to be where you are and for life to look a mess. It’s ok if YOU look a mess. It’s. Ok. You have a lot on your plate, I get that. So, stop trying to keep a life with balanced scales and allow God to use some of that messy to shape you into who He wants you to be.