Does a Balanced Lifestyle Really Exist?
Yes. But balance isn't what you think it is.
At its most chaotic points, the pace of my life has been dictated by comparison fueled by the fear of not being enough. In those times, I live on the see-saw of trying to make everything perfect, performed flawlessly, and pulled off without a hitch, and striving to keep up with all the activities and responsibilities I have said yes to. When I feel I have accomplished enough on my to-do list to fend off the fear, I am energized and at peace with myself. When things don’t go according to my plan, I engage in negative self-talk: putting myself down, beating myself up, and striving to make things better the next day. My see-saw becomes a trap of believing that if I could just figure out the best way to manage my time so I could get everything done each day, I would then have achieved balance and therefore have peace in my heart.
Can you relate?
Most of us characterize balance as being able to be productive in all areas of our lives. We feel balanced when we are able to check off items on our to-do lists, (especially when we can finish the whole list) while still having time and energy left over for the relationships in our lives.
That's not balance, though. That's productivity.
We live in a society that idolizes productivity and getting things done in as rapid a progression as possible. It's as if we are each on some big production assembly line, cranking out our projects and to-do items in a series of actions and reactions to the time we have each day, even to the point of making everything as efficient as possible so we can get even more done.
When we can keep up with the pace or even get ahead of the game, we feel energized, productive.
When we can't keep up with the pace we feel dejected, and our self-esteem plummets.
This is not balance. This is see-saw behavior focused on managing and reacting to external stimuli we give permission to influence our behaviors. The result of living back and forth on the see-saw is overwhelm, a quick temper, impatience, negativity, frustration, bitterness, envy, jealousy… These behaviors do nothing positive for us, and may even direct us towards negative behaviors, further debilitating us in our battle to experience balance in our lives.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Balance is about cultivating behaviors that allow the fruit of the Spirit to flow from us, guiding us into healthy reactions to living out the priorities we have been given. In order to experience it, we will have to make some changes, but that’s always the problem, isn’t it?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone show us what changes to make?
This week I am starting a new series on living a life of balance. I have invited several other women to share their perspectives and experiences managing the see-saws of their lives in hopes that we can experience true balance in our lives.
Why? Because I believe that as each one of us begins to experience balance, she will then begin to fight to keep it. As she does, she will impact her family and those around her in such a way as to cause others to want a life of balance too.
Imagine if we all stopped living on the see-saws of this culture and instead lived in balance.
How could experiencing balance affect our relationships? How could experiencing balance affect our parenting?
How could experiencing balance affect our work?
How could experiencing balance affect our marriages?
How could experiencing balance affect our personal well-being?
I hope you will join me each week as we explore what a balanced lifestyle could look like.
As you read each post, it is my prayer that you will sift it for the truth that God wants to apply to your life, and that you will allow Him to lead you making whatever changes he’s asking you to make.
And my own story? Well, the see-saw days are fewer and farther between for sure. I have experienced balance in my own life, and I have come far enough from the chaos that I don’t ever want to go back. But, just like the actual see-saw at parks, there are times when I’m up with balance and times when I am down. I am looking forward sifting for myself the nuggets of truth God has for me in these ladies’ words.
See you on the other side!