The Balance Myth
By: Sabrina Peters
I regularly find people saying to me, “I just don’t know how you balance it all?”.
Their words are sincere and sweet and I genuinely appreciate their encouragement, but to tell you the truth I’m not sure I even believe in balance – the act of juggling all the things you’re responsible for in perfect unison. Because if you think about it, if everything is balanced (getting an equal portion of your time and energy) you’re not actually moving forward.
I’m more of a believer in rhythm, priorities and grace. Because momentum takes motion.
I’m definitely not one to ignore practical wisdom, a detailed to-do list and a well organised calendar, but ultimately, I’m not trying to balance my life, I’m trying to live it to the fullest with His strength, wisdom and word as my guide.
God actually invites us into a life of divine rhythm.
One that is not absent of hard work, but simply free of crushing burdens and crippling stress.
The Bible puts it this way. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (msg)
The truth is, sometimes particular areas of your life will require more of your attention and other times they won’t.
Sometimes your work responsibilities will require you to put in overtime and pull an all nighter. Other times it will mean shutting the laptop and paying attention to the family in front of you. Sometimes it may look like getting off Netflix to finish your Uni paper, other days you may need to take a walk or go to the gym to clear your head.
Are you seeing what I’m getting at? Rhythm is everything. We can’t always be on, working our fingers to the bone and our minds to verge of insanity, but we certainly can’t squander this precious life we’ve been given to steward by doing nothing with it.
Sometimes we need to fix our focus and exert our energy, other times we need to take a break and rest intentionally.
In a world that glorifies busy busy busy, we also need to be people that learn to actually slow down. In one of my favourite books, ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’ the Author Paul Scarzzero unpacks the sabbath in a way I’d never seen before. He talks about the sabbath not just being about stopping work, but actually slowing down to hear from God, delighting in His presence and contemplating His goodness. It’s a principle we’ve been attempting to honour in our family. Now obviously, it’s not done out of any sense of religious obligation, but rather a desire to be with God and enjoy the blessings he’s so freely given.
In the words of Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath. For this reason the Son of Man exercises his lordship over the Sabbath.”
The key is to know what’s needed from you and what’s needed for you at any given moment. Rest when you need to, work when you need to.
I remember reading a story called Big Rocks First when I was a young adult. It’s always stuck with me:
“One day a teacher was speaking to a group of students. He pulled out an extremely large jar and set it on a table. Then he produced about a dozen big rocks and placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone said, “Yes.”
“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He took out some gravel and dumped them in. He shook the jar, causing the pieces to fall into the spaces between the big rocks. He asked the students again, “Is the jar full?”
His class was catching on. “Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Very good!” he replied. He brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand in and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Then he asked, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted.
“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
The teacher looked intently back at the students and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One student said, “You can always fit more things into your life if you really work at it.”
The teacher said “That’s true, but it’s not the point of this illustration.”
He said, “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first…… would you have gotten any of them in?“
So what are your big rocks? Your family? Your career? Your health? Your studies? For me, God is my biggest rock and the person I want involved in all aspects of my life, not just some.
When our priorities are in order we give attention to the things (and people) we should and we let go of the things we can.
I regularly find myself having to let go of things that are good, for the things that are better.
The first thing to go in my own life is often social media or to be honest, this blog ha! Now, there’s nothing wrong with Instagram or Facebook but the amount of times I have found myself complaining I don’t have time to read the Bible or be alone with God, but realise I’ve blown at least an hour reading articles and watching random videos on the explore page.
The truth is, if you have time for Netflix and Instagram, you have time for God. You just haven’t made him a priority.
So, today instead of trying to balance everything that’s on your plate, don’t. Focus on the most important thing. Do that. Focus on the most important people. Love them. Put the big rocks in and stop allowing the sand to take up all the space.
I’m all for a little hustle, but His grace is what’ll take it beyond our own abilities and into the divine. It doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing.
It just means we partner with Him to fulfil His agenda (not the other way around) & depend on Him more than we do ourselves.
“If God’s grace doesn’t help the builders, they will labor in vain to build a house. If God’s mercy doesn’t protect the city, all the sentries will circle it in vain. It really is senseless to work so hard from early morning till late at night, toiling to make a living for fear of not having enough. God can provide for his lovers even while they sleep!” – Psalms 127:1
Grace isn’t opposed to effort, but to earning.
Even wikipedia got this one right when it defined grace as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation.
Our fruitfulness is directly connected to our intimacy with God and His grace.
“For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. “I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!”- 1 John 15:4 (TPT)
And here’s the kicker. His grace shines through in our weakness. So when we feel disqualified, depleted or overwhelmed we become the perfect candidates for His grace.
“But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (TPT)
I don’t want to be self-made. I want to be God-made and divinely graced. Walking and working in His power and wisdom, because His extra on my ordinary is far more extraordinary than me on my absolutely best day.
Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters.
About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God & sex.
Feature image: Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash