It has taken me a while to abandon the notion of a balanced life and to embrace the idea of balancing life. This difference may seem subtle, but is really quite significant. We are never the perfect weight, we never find the perfect mix of work and play, and we never manage to feed all our physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers with the exact portions necessary while also sustaining those around us and meeting all our professional and community obligations. We never find the ideal pattern that needs no reconsideration, recalibration, or rebalancing. Life is constant movement, forward stepping, sidetracking, detouring, self-correcting, getting a little lost, and finding our way back with the help of friends.
Balancing life’s tasks, challenges, and callings is spiritual work, a matter of will, effort, prayer, decision, priority, change, growth, risk, grace, more grace, and reliance upon God and upon friends. Balancing all the stuff around us begins with balancing what’s inside us. In our interior life, our life with god, we map the course, get the priorities right, open ourselves to the promptings of spirit, and remember who we are. Balancing is hard, but it’s worth the effort. It keeps us from falling. It makes it possible to step forward without so much tension and worry with practice, we may even begin to carry ourselves as gracefully forward as the woman on the wire does, even
If we teeter and totter a little here and there. Jesus’ teachings are full of action words and heavy-loaded with imperatives: “Go . . . Teach . . . Heal . . . Baptize . . . Take up . . .Arise. . . Give . . . Tell . . .” His practice of ministry also included rich times of personal prayer, extended rest, time away, dinners with friends, long walks, fishing trips, stopovers at water wells, time in the temple, Sabbath. If Jesus’ life required constant balancing, what makes us think we can work ours out with complete and un-improvable success?
How are you doing with your balancing act?
Excerpted from The Balancing Act, ©2009 Abingdon Press