The Myth of Balance

Have you ever been sent on a mission to find something completely fictitious?  A snipe, perhaps?  The end of the rainbow?  That missing sock to complete the pair?  Ok, the last one is not fictitious, but it might as well be.  

I often feel like I’m on a foolhardy adventure when I seek out balance in my life.  Is this whole idea of a “balanced life” a rainbow unicorn or is it ACTUALLY something that can be found and captured?  I’ve been paying attention to a lot of other folks who are also seeking balance between work and homelife or career and volunteer work, or….friendships and family.  I’m hearing a lot of frustration and disbelief in this concept.  For good reason.  I’m ready to say that "life balance" is an absolute myth on this side of heaven, but is there something else that can help sooth that innate desire or do we just throw it to the wind and quiet the ongoing yearning? 

Maybe it’s just me, but when I picture a “balanced life,”  I imagine a robust work schedule that keeps one energized and feeling purposeful, while also having fulfilling and joy-filled time with family and friends that allows for connections to grow and flourish.  I imagine adequate sleep, manageable stress levels, allotted time for self-care, etc.  I imagine an overarching sense of calm.  And you know what?  I think that sense of balance was built into me.  It's a legitimate desire and a good one, really.  I think where it all starts becoming myth is HOW we seek to achieve it.  Through rigid control and management.  At least, that has been my experience, until this summer. 

The summer has proven to be anything but balanced.  I have been piecing together playdates to get to the studio for a couple hours a couple times a week.  I’ve been bringing my 12 year old to the studio with me (I totally bribe him with lunch from the campus cafe), and I’ve been toting work back and forth between home and studio.  It’s absolutely insane, but what has shocked me is how “ok” with the lack of balance there has been.  My work and home hours are overlapping like crazy, but I’m at peace.  I’m rolling with it.  I especially noticed this today when I had a meeting at the studio this morning and then my youngest was dropped off at the studio with his best friend.   They were loud, disruptive and made an absolute mess of my space, but man, was it fun.  I got supplies out for them and they just went to town making whatever they wanted to make and I LOVED listening in on their creative processes.  Was I distracted?  Yep.  Did I still get tasks accomplished?  Sure did! 

In time past, I would have been frustrated at how their presence was interrupting my work hours, but since the summer has been so nutty, I’ve just gotten really used to being interrupted and I’ve started to notice the beauty in these moments.  What is that?  I think it’s trust. Trust that I have the time I need to accomplish the tasks that God has for me.  Trust that the things I can’t accomplish will be fine and also that I can do what needs done for my clients and for my family.  It's also an understanding and acceptance that this innate desire for balance that I carry deep within me is not going to be fulfilled on my own nor during this short time I have on this earth.  That balance I seek?  That's found in my Creator.  It's found in relationship with the One who made me.  I get tastes and glimpses of it now when I fix my gaze on God.  When I abide in His presence and bring him my struggles with the chaos around me and ask for His strength and wisdom. Our world will forever be shifting and changing. WE are forever shifting and changing and that means that if we aren't holding onto to something steady and unmovable, we are constantly on the verge of toppling. 

How can we move on from the myth of "life balance" and find some joy in the chaos?   Here's some ideas: 

1. Accept the imbalance and the presence of life seasons that shift and change. The myth of balance is that we can control our circumstances and create an environment of balance that remains steady. 

2. Be OK with your own imperfection and failures. It's not about doing things perfectly, it's about continuing to persist despite your mistakes. 

3. Place your trust and faith in a God that holds your hand in the middle of the chaos and will never leave you alone to face your day. A balanced environment might be mythical, but remaining steady and having peace despite the our shifting world is what you were made for in partnership with your Creator. 

4. Train your mind and heart to see beauty in the everyday.  When you have yourself firmly holding fast to the One who is unmovable, you can start to take in the dynamic world around you and see what He's given you.  That balanced environment?  That is not ours to have right now, but He is extravagant in His moment by moment gifts...the sunset, the giggles of a delighted child, the humor found in our failings, the song of the birds, the lean-in of your dog, the subtle scent of flowers.... 

I'll conclude with this quote from a guy that lived one of the most unbalanced lives possible, but remained remarkably steady despite his shifting landscape. 

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty or hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)