Balancing Me

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You know that feeling when things are moving way too fast? When you’re trying to juggle so many things at once that you’re painfully and consistently aware that, at any moment, something is going to fly loose and set everything else into visible chaos? When you’re stretched so thin that you’re sure you’re about to break? I have that feeling a lot.

And because I have that feeling a lot, I am regularly revisiting my commitments and priorities. I learned a trick many years ago to help avoid clutter in the house, and I think it’s a good principle to apply to our schedules, as well: whenever I get something new, I need to get rid of something old. Sometimes the swap is a clean one, exchanging a single item or commitment for another. Sometimes whatever I am bringing home or taking on is so big that it requires the sacrifice of several items or commitments in order to make enough room for the new addition.

But what if rearranging our schedules and priorities to make room for new ones is not enough? What if that is only a superficial remedy to a deeper problem? What if the reason we keep collecting things and taking on new tasks and finding new projects to replace the old is simply an outward indication that there is some serious rearranging that our souls may be in need of? What if making things look better and feel better is just a temporary fix to something that needs ongoing attention?

I crave balance, and am always in pursuit of it, even though achieving it seems to be ever elusive. A wise man once told me that perfect balance is a myth, because we will never always be able to have every area of our lives in perfect proportion. In other words, balance doesn’t look like an equally segmented pie chart.

In every season of my life, balance will look different, depending on the priorities and responsibilities in front of me. Some seasons will demand more of my time and focus on work and some will demand more time and focus on marriage and family, and some will require more time and focus on my own growth and development. And I will need to adjust accordingly. Additionally, the people we are in relationships with will also have balance changes and challenges to work out in each new season of their lives, requiring us to make room for each other’s shifting priorities.

That becomes a tangled and complicated web of relational hurdles real fast! Still, if we want to grow, all of it must be factored in. And while we’re trying to factor it in, there is often a whole lot happening beneath the surface of our shifting lives that requires our attention.

The grounding reality in all of our changing seasons and shifting priorities and aims to balance it all well is that each season has certain, built-in priorities which – when given their proper place – stabilize our pursuit of balance and keep us from tipping over. I think balance gets topsy-turvy when we fail to recognize these foundational priorities, and get busy focusing on less important (but often more exciting or temporarily rewarding) pursuits. People spin out of control when they forget that there are certain, necessary parts of life that we can’t afford to ignore or trade out.

One of these is the journey inward, the honest examination of who we really are. We can get quite busy building a name and a life for ourselves which looks really great on the outside. But if we neglect the inside life that demands regular, quiet, introspective exploration, all that we build will most certainly come falling down. Who we are at the end of the day, when the screens dim and the profiles are put away, matters more than everything that is said and done while the lights are shining.

I’ve read a number of stories lately about the demise of great men and women. Their quitting marks. Their breaking points. The moments when everything came crashing down. The scary part is that my heart could identify with their breaking moments. I found some relief in discovering that I am not the only one who’s ever felt like giving up. The grace of God has miraculously kept me from it, but I know that I am not immune to falling down. And reading the stories of others just like me has awakened me to the reality that I play a significant part in how my story goes. I have a choice in whether or not I go the same way.

The sad part about most of the stories I’ve read recently is that they all included the little flags they – and everyone around them – ignored for the sake of the outer life that seemed to be in full bloom. All of them gave a behind-the-scenes peek at the story behind the story – the roots that were rotting and withering while the flower seemed to be blossoming just fine. But we all know that no flower lives long without its roots being tended to. Regular food and water and adequate light must be continually supplied, or the beauty we see above the ground will shrivel up and disappear.

The same is true for our lives. In order to sustain any real growth and progress on the outside (in order for our plates to not all come crashing down), we must regularly to tend to the roots of our hearts.

Let me be the first to say that I am not a fan of deep heart work. It hurts. It requires time I am already in short supply of. It ruptures the functional relationship patterns I have worked hard at establishing. And because I’ve already done a significant amount of it, I’d prefer to think I can check it off my list and focus now on other things. But I am waking up to the truth that heart work is never done, because we are in a transformation process with God that only ends when it’s time for us to trade in these lives for our eternal ones.

So the searching and exploring of what’s hidden beneath the surface of me – if I am going to be healthy and whole – must be a regular part of my priorities and my attempts to balance life. And I need to understand and accept that going deep and looking at what’s underneath the me that everyone sees will inevitably and always mean more change.

This is not a bad thing. It just feels like it!

Growth is good, and necessary. And most of what’s unseen in our lives isn’t (hopefully) intentionally hidden there. I aim to live a life that is not hypocritical. I want my outer life to match, or stem from, the inner life I live.

In my early twenties, people always told me what a beautiful young woman I was. But I didn’t feel anywhere near beautiful on the inside. I was aching for an internal reality that carried the same (or greater) beauty and shine that my outward appearance did, and I set off in pursuit of that. It became a priority for me, and that priority has remained, because I am not yet a finished product. And because what’s behind and underneath the me that everyone sees is deeper than my own eyes can detect.

It takes God in the process of heart searching to unveil the secret fears and lies and hurts that still lurk beneath the surface and try to choke out the life I am desperately wanting to live. It takes God to probe around the comfortable reality I’ve become convinced of and point out the hidden messes that are eventually going to become big problems if I don’t agree to face and confront them in myself. It takes God to get my eyes off of my circumstances and the people around me that it can be so easy to blame in difficult seasons, and to refocus me on the one life that most likely still needs the most change: mine.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, the difficult news today is that, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, there is a very important journey you must make room for, if you desire to continue growing into the woman God created you to be. The good news is that you will not have to embrace or take this journey alone. This is a journey which God loves to not just lead us through, but journey with us in.

If you’re feeling like everything is spinning or about to spin out of control, that is your invitation to put some things down and look beneath the surface. It’s your stop sign, your pause button. It’s God’s way of letting you and I know that He made us to be able to sustain the life and the responsibilities He gives, and that only becomes possible as we examine the depths of who we are on the way to becoming who we were created to be.

Don’t ignore the exits on the freeway of your life. Maybe this is the best time to pull off the road you’ve been driving way too fast on, and take some time to reflect on where you really want to go, and should be going. Sometimes we get so busy and move so fast that we end up in a place we never set out to go. Sometimes where we land isn’t at all where we were aiming for.

As we learn to pause regularly and give room for God to search our inside lives, He will reveal the things that drive us onward and the reasons we tend to stretch ourselves so thin, when He promised loads that are light and easy.

I think a great place to start is by asking God if your life is rightly balanced, and asking for His help in prioritizing a regular self-examination before Him. We go to the doctor, dentist, and mechanic regularly for the care and keeping of our physical bodies and possessions. Why not devote the same, consistent time and attention to the eternal part of ourselves?

May you be inspired today to go beneath the surface and allow God to fine-tune your life so that it will turn out to be everything you have the conviction that it was meant to be!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


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