Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Balance of Life

So much of life seems to be about striking the right balance.  A little of this, some of that, and not too much of either.

Enough sunshine to give you Vitamin D, but not enough to give you a sunburn.

Water in proper disbursements to avoid either flood or drought.

Exercise for the cortex in harmony with a workout for the biceps.

And I'm guessing that never in history has it been so easy to be unbalanced.  We live in a wonderful land of nearly unlimited choices, from the cuisine we swallow (Greek, Chinese, Mexican, or Mennonite) to the creeds we embrace (Hi-tech, Organic, Completely Artificial, or Who Cares).

No matter where we look, there is an expert ready to make us feel guilty.  Thus, we race in circles trying to be all things to all people.  Food Guru, check.  Crafty Mama, check.  Manicured Mabel, check.  Frugal Fanny, check.  Gigantic Headache, check.

Where are the days when choices were simple?  Car--black.  Clothes--on.  Food--whatever your husband shot.

But then it occurs to me that those simple days involved washboards, butchering, and no a/c.

I suppose the point is that every generation, every individual has to strike his own balance.

And therein lies the difficulty.

If there were a rule book to go by, a similar pattern to each life, I wouldn't have to think so hard.

But, perhaps, in the daily struggle to create a balance out of myriad events, perhaps then I exercise the mental muscles of temperance, submission, and faith that would otherwise be left to languish.

I have to figure it out each week.

How do I balance the time I spend tutoring Wade with the time to nurture Randall and Christopher?

What about balanced meals, a clean house, church work, quiet time with God, and space to develop friendships with other families?

In ten years, will I be wishing I had focused somewhere else?

Weeks tick by that feel terribly out of balance.

Times when the necessity of loving others rises above the need to practice word strings with Wade.

Occasions when working on a new business venture eats up the organization of laundry, cleaning and cooking.

Days when you have noisy time with God and hope He understands.

Evenings when you find the man who is your husband and finally complete that sentence you started in the morning.

So what is the answer to staying balanced, especially when my balance may differ greatly from yours?

Well, there may not be a rule book, but I'm gradually learning some universal principles that help me walk the tightrope.

  1. Define important goals.  What really needs to be accomplished, both daily and long-term?
  2. Focus.  I must keep my eyes off Crafty Carla, Entertaining Emily, and even Frugal Fannie.  I can admire and learn from them, but my focus must be on the job God has set before me, not before them.
  3.  Be honest.  Life has its times when I cannot stay on schedule.  Crises arise, both small and large, visitors stop by to be welcomed and enjoyed; garden fruits and vegetables need to be processed in season.  But then I must make sure to get back on track without using the interruptions as a continued  excuse for negligence.  An exception to the rule is just that--an exception, not a lifestyle.
  4. Look at the Big Picture.  Backing off to survey the whole scene helps me sort out the necessary from the trivial.
  5. Develop an eternal perspective.  ”Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.” --Wayne Dyer      During this period called Time, we have to perform the routine duties of life in order to sustain a healthy, orderly existence.  But it is only as we look through God's eyes that we can properly balance out the routine with the spiritual.
And so in the rhythm that is Life, after we are done with the Exceptions to the Rule, I have a cleaning and laundry marathon with Randall and Christopher and tip the scales once again in the favor of order.

And I resume daily sessions with Wade in which I am surprised at his new vocabulary.  (Where did he learn that?)

And the Imp of Life who is always ready to put things in perspective comes in the form of  Christopher who hears about a man in charge of an orphanage and says reprovingly, "How can it be, Mom, that you are 41 and have only 3 children, and that man is 28 and has 200?  I find that stunning."

And I laugh uncontrollably with the man who is my husband, knowing that, with a little effort, the zigs eventually balance out the zags and, thank God, I'm not even going to try to strike a balance between 3 and 200.

*Disclaimer:  I am not 41, even though my son kindly thinks I am..

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