THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE: ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION
Most people in the U.S. are seeking balance – whether or not they have children, whether or not they are employed (students and stay-at-home moms come to mind). However, this often becomes a very big issue for working moms because they are concerned with work/life balance, and studies show that women often do most of the housework, even in a dual-income family.
For many of us, one of the biggest questions in life is “How do I achieve balance?” Are we asking the wrong question? Perhaps it is more appropriate to ask, “How can I make peace with the life I have?”
The problem with searching for balance is that none of us is God. The best time managers in the world cannot prevent some of the great trials and tragedies of life, like a dying parent or a crisis at work. No matter how carefully you try to stay on top of things, there are going to be times where you are not going to be able to exercise, have your daily devotions, spend quality time with spouse and children, get enough sleep, provide balanced meals, keep the house clean, get some time for yourself, and devote the time you need to work and other important things. Even blessings like a new child can throw life out of whack. At such times, you can forget balance. What you need is peace! And for some of us, every day may feel like that. We may try and try to get on top of things, only to find that the best we can do is to be on top of things for a couple of days, maybe a week, before we are sliding out of balance again.
So how do we make peace with a chaotic, out-of-balance life? The most important way we can find peace is through prayer and dependence on God. God has blessed us abundantly, but we live in a fallen world. We cannot count on finding what we want in this world. We also cannot make balance an idol. Our eyes should be fixed on Jesus – not balance. Remember that the Bible tells us to seek the kingdom of God first! (Matthew 6:33) Read the Gospels and note that Jesus did not seem to lead a balanced life. His days were often long and hard.
The second thing you can do is forgive yourself. We expect far too much from ourselves. Many of the things we wish to achieve are very good and important things. Of course it is imperative that we invest time in our families; of course we need to look after our health; of course we need to be good workers if we want to keep our jobs. But instead of expecting that we will achieve perfection in all these areas every day, we should just do the best we can, concentrating our efforts on what is most important for this day, and forgive ourselves for not attaining the ideal. God knows we are weak; we ought to be as merciful to ourselves as He is.
My purpose is not to cause you despair; instead, I want to help you get off the treadmill of the American search for balance! I don’t believe that perfect balance is possible, and I fear that chasing after it is a form of idolatry. We need to learn, instead, to make peace with our lives, living them in utter dependence on God.