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.
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?