When Balance Eludes You

There was a craze Stateside in the mid-nineties. Fat free food.

Fat free chips. Fat free cookies. Fat free ice cream.

Consumers looked at the box of Devil’s Food cookies and said “Oh, it’s FAT FREE! It must be healthy!” The devil is in the details and in the case of the cookies, the sugar they were loaded with.

That’s what makes my memory of sitting in our over-sized van scarfing down an entire box of previously mentioned Devil’s Food cookies with my mom so unbalanced. My mom, who struggled with her weight her whole life, had been duped by the writing on the box. She wanted to be healthy, but she also wanted to indulge. There’s the rub.

Balance.

We all want it, but somehow it seems elusive. We know that the best thing for our health, our marriage, our children, our life on the field is to find a way to balance it all. We all wish it were easy. Like eating our most favorite treat guilt-free.

I crave balance in my daily life. I stay at home with my kids and I struggle to find a way to play freely, work with focus, instruct with gentleness and take care of myself (read as get dressed). I often feel like I am a a professional plate spinner and the only thing I am balancing is the precariously placed plates overflowing with tasks I have to get done. They threaten to crash down disastrously every day. My life is frequently unbalanced.

Life overseas can be an even bigger struggle in the balance department. When you’re living on someone else’s terms; your sending agency, the culture you have moved to, your team members, the work you are doing.

When I lived in West Africa I worked feverishly through an intense refugee crisis and time of political upheaval for a neighboring country. There were long days of work, work, work that left me stressed and uncertain about our long term plans to be there. I remember feeling as if my shoulders couldn’t relax.

Eventually the intense period of work ended, but I still felt frayed at the ends. When you’ve been living off kilter it’s hard to find balance even if life is relatively calm.

Balance takes effort.

It’s easier to swing and sway and go to extremes than it is to find balance. A gymnast works hard to learn how to steady herself on a beam, all her muscle groups tensing and giving at the right second. In the same way it is hard work to learn how to balance life. It’s a constant readjustment in big and small ways in order to maintain balance.

I’m no expert. I feel the pain daily of making those adjustments simply to stay on track. It can be painful. It can mean putting down the t.v. remote. It may mean picking up your Bible when you are tired. It might mean choosing to talk it out instead of being passive. It could mean closing the computer or silencing the cell phone. Maybe it means getting off the couch. Perhaps it means reaching out a hand.

All I know is balance is key to helping us stay healthy wherever we are.

Does your life feel unbalanced? What is one step can you take today to bring some balance into your life?

Photo Credit: Da4Sal via Compfight cc

6 Comments

  1. Karen July 19, 2015

    Thanks for this article.┬áSometimes it is very hard to find that balance, especially as a primary school teacher. One of the things I’m planning to do this year is set myself a goal to leave school by 5pm three days a week, and no later than 6.30pm on the other two days. That will take self-discipline, but I need to do it. The other area I’ll be working on is fellowship with other Christians, through regular church attendance. As a single, it’s sometimes easy to say to myself, I’ve just got too much to do to spend 2+ hours going to church, but I am very conscious that I need to do it. If I don’t take that time to worship I usually regret it.

    1. Jessica Hoover July 20, 2015

      Yes, Karen, it’s easy to make decisions in the moment that leave us unbalanced. We think we’re making a good decision, but later see that it cost us something else. It really is a wisdom thing so often. Wisdom that I lack more than I would like too.

  2. Ashley Felder July 20, 2015

    Oh my. I was nodding my head in agreement throughout this post! 7 months in, and I still feel like I’m trying to get my feet under me with 3 kids. I’d rather be busy than bored, so I don’t mind the constant list of to-dos, but rarely finishing what I start is beginning to get annoying! One thing I’m excited and ready to change is my time with God. Right now, it’s late at night when everyone is finally settled, and before baby’s dream feed. I’m usually exhausted by then and just want to veg in front of Netflix or the computer, but I’m trying to be disciplined about time with Him first. When baby girl stops needing me so much, I hope to change that time to the morning before everyone stirs. I’m not a morning person, per se, but I think my mind, heart, and attitude would greatly benefit from starting my day meditating on the Word rather than being woken up by some screaming child. ­čÖé

  3. Jessica Hoover July 20, 2015

    Ashley, we are leading the same life right now…basically. Yes, I am struggling to find time to just sit with Jesus. Either I’m scrambling to check off the boxes on the to-do list or I’m too exhausted to think straight. Little ones make it oh so hard to find balance- not blaming them- but it’s ultimately up to us to make the hard choices. I’m SO with ya sister. The struggle is REAL! Let’s commit to making it a priority together!

    1. Monica F July 23, 2015

      So comforted to know I’m not the only one who feels this. ┬áMy brain has been so exhausted lately trying to manage a zillion ‘things to do’ while hosting people, spending time with kids, and trying to manage work responsibilities from across the ocean (I’m in the States, but still working in our project in Asia). ┬áPray for me that I’ll make the right choices, and not become resentful when I can’t get it all done.

  4. MaDonna July 23, 2015

    We’re in the midst of a move and totally feeling unbalanced. But, I’ve vowed to NOT eat fast food during THIS move. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how I had let one certain place become my best friend because it was easier than trying to make a meal without a stove. It was summer – I could have made salads and sandwiches! HA! It is summer once again – so I proclaim here with you all as my witnesses that I will NOT eat unhealthy meals or feed my children unhealthy meals no matter how cluttered the house is or the kitchen not put together during this season of “the BIG move”.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.