I still remember the conversation I had with a close friend of mine back when we were both new moms. “I just can’t seem to balance it all,” I told her. “I get on top of one area of my life but at the same time it feels like I’m letting something else slide.”
I remember it so clearly because it was a re-occurring conversation – talk of spinning all the plates or keeping it all afloat. Thick in this new and exciting stage of life, we would start new meal planning routines, new exercise programs and master them, but then lose control of the grocery bill. We would become taskmasters of our homes, nailing that to do list and notice ourselves even more frustrated when our young kids messed it up.
As we have aged and matured, as our kids and families have grown, in some ways we still fight the same battles. We are still here trying to serve well inside our homes and out. We are trying to invest in our marriages, in our kids, in our friendships and the world at large.
But I’ve noticed one thing has changed – we aren’t chasing balance anymore, we’re focused on stability.
The Illusion of Balance
Believing balance was the key early on in life, I could never seem to get all of the inputs to come out quite even. Sure I might nail it for a day or two but then something would happen – a kid would get sick, work demands would temporarily increase, we’d start a home improvement project – life would happen and tip my scales of balance.
But here’s the interesting part, while well intended, my theology of balance doesn’t align all that well scripture. When the scribes pressed into Jesus in Matthew 22, inquiring about the greatest commandment he didn’t mention balance. He actually spoke of a very real imbalance.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 ESV
Pretty clear, isn’t it? No balance here, do this first and this next.
We see this verse in action in the familiar story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. You know it, right? Martha, distracted with much serving, Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Jesus’ words here are beautiful.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 41-42 ESV
Again, no talk of balance here. But rather choosing the one thing, the good portion. This is what my young mama heart was grasping for, what my not-quite-so-young heart is finally beginning to understand.
Our goal is not balance, but a life lived from a firm foundation of knowing Jesus Christ. That is something better than balance, that is stability.
Here are three simple ways I continue to work on stability rather than balance.
Stay in the Word
I cannot love the One I do not know. This has certainly looked different for me in different seasons of life, but I think we tend to let each other off a little too easily here.
Be persistent in developing a habit of being in the Word, of learning and knowing Truth. Start small, be faithful and pray for a hunger to keep knowing, keep growing, here.
“and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.” Isaiah 33:6 ESV
Get a Board of Directors
I can’t always trust myself. I have lots of ideas and am distracted easily by so many good things, so I need the input of wise people who I can trust to speak truth to me. Am I getting off track, spreading myself too thin, pursuing goals that aren’t ensuring stability? These people will speak truth and keep pointing me to Him. A writing friend of mine calls this her board of directors. I think we could all benefit from such a board.
Bend Don’t Break
New seasons often blow in with little warning. We change jobs or move, illness shakes our immediate or extended family, work demands ebb and flow, etc. Knowing this, we don’t have to chase balance and get frustrated when life is upside down. We can step back, steady ourselves and know that this season of very real imbalance is okay because our foundation is secure. We can move with the seasons rather than fight them.
Chasing stability rather than balance has been freeing for me. Occasionally, I slip back into my old habits, like a few a weeks ago when my house was a mess and I whined to my husband (he’s on my board of directors) that I just couldn’t seem to keep up with things anymore. He gently replied, “Of course you can’t, because we’ve been busy focusing on all of these other things instead.”
That realization didn’t make my house any cleaner at the moment, but it reminded me that I wasn’t failing. We had chosen this season that afforded a little less time for housework. And it was good. It was a season and it too would pass.
Imbalances don’t mean failure; they are a part of life. Secure your foundations, lean hard into Truth and get yourself a board of directors you can trust. Stability is proving to be the key to navigating life’s seasons more gracefully. What a gift.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.