Monday, October 9, 2017

Finding the Balance

Several months ago I did a devotional for a ladies group and I shared very personally on what I had been going through in trying to establish balance in my life. I would like to share the collection of excerpts from other authors as well as my own thoughts here in hopes that I can encourage other women who feel as I did/do.   

We began with an attempt to balance on a board that had been laid across a cylinder something like the one pictured here. 


Balancing on the board was hard. No one could balance for more than a few seconds. You have to take into account what you are balancing on, which way to lean, how to best keep it balanced while doing other things. After a while it would get quite exhausting. 

This is our lives. We try to balance out being a good wife, mother, employee, friend, being involved in ministry. That’s like not just balancing on one board but stacking them up and balancing four or five boards all at once. 

Often when we are looking for balance in our lives, we are actually looking for a to-do list that will help us get more done in less time and with less stress. This is me. Living a balanced life in my brain meant to try and make all of the people around me happy at once. 

Trying to support and encourage my husband in his new business venture, keep the house clean and laundry caught up so that there would be less distractions, constantly feeling guilt because we would both be starving when we got in the door from work and I hadn’t started prep at 6am before we left so we both didn’t make healthy decisions when we got home. 

Keeping my boss, coworkers, and parents of students happy by taking on planning of events no one else wanted to, not assigning too much work but still making sure that the child was keeping up and learning everything they were supposed to while maintaining a fun and positive atmosphere. 

Keeping my area of ministry running well by doing what I considered the inconvenient jobs and trying to make every event I was involved in running smoothly so that others wouldn’t be annoyed with small details of things needing to be done. 

Keeping people relationships in good health by trying to remember important dates (and failing miserably) chatting regularly, trying to work my schedule around others and feeling guilty when it didn’t work. 

I kept thinking that I needed to find a better way to do all of this because isn’t that what being a well-balanced person is? And it can’t be impossible because I see others around me who seem to have it down no problem. 

Get a better handle on things. Try harder.

Often we feel we need to control our environment and our lives. Deadlines, conflicts with family members or spouse, busy schedule for a long period of time can be things that make us feel out of control, which increases anxiety and frustration. If this continues, it can lead to depression which makes us want balance even more.

I have come to realize that I need to focus less on the things (or people) I feel I need to take care of, and more on myself. This sounded so selfish at first, but it is very important. I need to know myself well, manage my commitments, and steward the gifts God has given me.

STEPS I AM WORKING ON TO RESTORE BALANCE

1. Examining my relationship with God.
 
(Making sure my fulcrum is centred) 
Am I seeking for God’s wisdom or trying to go it alone? When life gets overwhelming, it is easy to feel alone but God’s word reminds us over and over again that we are not alone.
Romans 8:35 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Psalms 91:10-11 “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
Everyone can have a relationship with God. We just have to have a desire to increase the depth of that relationship and God will give us all that we need to live life more fully.
Luke 11:9-13 “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

2. Look to God, not to Others, to Determine My Priorities 
“Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’” —Mark 1:35–38
“How could Jesus walk away from needs that only He could meet? Because the Father had different priorities for Jesus than simply a healing ministry. The healing balanced the teaching.
Even though the people would have preferred Jesus to choose differently, He determined instead to please the Father. Accordingly, Jesus was misunderstood, rejected, even crucified—and yet, He was successful.
God’s priorities for you and people’s expectations of you will seldom go in tandem.” - Wayne Styles

3. Remember that there is a time and season for everything.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 show us a number of different seasons that we may go through.
There may be a season where I can only focus on certain things AND THAT’S OK! Priorities will shift over time as life changes. 

4. Say No, So that You Can Say Yes. 

Jesus said no—so that He could say yes to what was most important.  Only by gleaning our priorities from Scripture will we be able to make confident decisions amidst overwhelming demands. We can choose many good things and end up missing the best things—the essential priorities.
Don’t fall for the lie that states that a good Christian should never say no to legitimate needs.” As you have probably already realized, any one of the area of your life would most likely be enough to fill your time quite completely. Add in your family responsibilities, volunteer opportunities, and all the ways your church would like you to get involved, and all of a sudden you’re on the brink of burnout. “If you say yes to everything, you won’t be able to put in your best efforts anywhere.” To make my commitment count, I have to learn to say “no” to a lot of really great opportunities and focus on a few areas that provide the most value.
In the long run, martyrs don’t make good managers, mothers, wives, or friends.
By not overcommitting, I’m able to do a better job at the few things I’ve chosen to do. I can also set and enforce boundaries much more effectively and help others to respect those boundaries when they see that I’m exercising good judgment over my commitments.”

5. Be a good steward of myself
My energy is like a bank account. I have a limited amount and I need to think  through what I spend it on. If I “overdraw” on energy, I will quickly burn out and not even do the job well. 

Our energy is used up when we try to do more than we can do. 
Our energy is used up when we have too much stuff.
Our energy is used up when we have money problems. 
Our energy is used up when our lives are not disciplined.

“I am God’s unique creation. My health and sanity are resources that God has given me, and they should be stewarded accordingly. When life gets crazy, it often seems expedient to put everything else before my own needs, but over time that approach will burn me out and cripple my ability to manage well.”

   We have to get better, by God’s grace, at spending our energy. Pick your fights; don’t let the little stuff beat you down. Pray at all those points of irritation and ask God to give you perspective, and put that energy back into your account so it’s there for the important things.

A. W. Tozer puts it like this: "While it is possible to be a weary saint, it is scarcely possible to be weary and feel saintly." 

--
Sherry Peters
Beacon Bible Chapel

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