I've been thinking about balance lately and how I'm not so great at it.
More often than not, I feel like a person carrying a huge stack of way too many books. A stack that is very heavy, and the books on the top of the stack keep slipping off and falling onto the floor, but I can't just leave those books on the floor, I have to find a way to pick them back up again. But I can't see the floor because my book stack is too tall, so I bend down and grope around on the ground with my hand hoping I'll find them. But as I'm searching, things are getting pretty heavy and my one arm is starting to burn from supporting all the other books, and after a while all the precarious balancing turns into leaning and sagging and falling and a whole lot more books on the floor.
That's how I feel sometimes.
I don't know where to begin really, not because the things I'm balancing are so hard or awful. Actually most of the things I'm trying to carry are very good things. Things that are worth carrying. And maybe that makes them harder to let go of.
Maybe that makes it even more frustrating when they fall out of my hands.
Raising two little girls, each with a very different, very demanding set of needs. Hoping that the choices I make in how I care for them now will help guide them on a path that will lead them to walk with and love Jesus and others and themselves. Worrying that I might be a hindrance somehow.
Choosing how I spend my free time. Wanting to spend it growing skills and turning dreams into realities. Not wanting to neglect my husband or my children for the sake of achievement and status and looking good in the eyes of others.
Looking toward the future without sacrificing the present.
If I'm honest, the present gets sacrificed a lot.
Cultivating friendships, getting time for myself, keeping the house clean, training my toddler to be a decent human, documenting our life through photos, writing, loving my husband well, Bible study, budgeting, getting enough sleep, reading books, dealing with conflicts in relationships, learning to knit, holding my baby, helping to lighten the loads of friends, spending time with family, sharing vulnerable parts of my life with friends, sharing vulnerable parts of my life here and on Instagram, deciding whether to give to a good cause, walking closely with Jesus, being informed about what's going on in the world, laundry, play dates, a vast range of emotions on a daily basis, a vast range of thoughts on a daily basis, lots of small opportunities throughout the day to choose joy and thankfulness, lots of opportunities throughout the day to choose grumbling and dragging my feet, accepting that the work I do right now is small, striving to have that work be seen and validated by others.
Just some real, practical things I carry, that I think most of us carry in some way, that tend to stack up and stack up until I'm just not sure how to hold them.
But I want to hold them well so badly. I want to handle even the hard ones and heavy ones with wisdom and grace and love. But the weight is overwhelming sometimes, and I lose the ability to see clearly how, exactly, this is done.
I guess I just wanted to write about this struggle. I guess it just feels good to get it pinned down with words. I'm in the thick of it right now, so I'm not sure if I have anything that is super profound or wise or encouraging on how to find a healthy good balance.
Maybe you do?
Clear priorities, would probably be good. To sit down and really figure out which things truly matter, which are refreshing, which need more time, which are not so beneficial, which are just not really that important right now.
I need to learn which things should be at the bottom of the stack, wrapped tight in my arms, safe from the threat of falling to the floor, and I need to learn which things can be put back on the shelf for later.
I also need to learn which things are just fine being left on the floor.
Maybe it's not so hard to figure out, but I'm finding it's very hard to actually put into practice.
Some good questions to ask myself come to mind:
How much? How often? Why? What's my motivation?
And some verses, too, for when I'm tempted to give too much focus to the things that aren't important:
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these thing will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
Maybe I'm losing my balance because I'm straining my neck to see how tall or interesting other people's stacks are.
Maybe I don't give myself space for quiet things, for not thinking through everything so much.
Maybe I spend too much time fearing I'm not enough.
Maybe my stacking strategy is all wrong. Maybe I'm trying to stack heavy on top of light and flimsy, and the support I need just isn't there.
Maybe I need to spend more time learning how to allow myself grace when I just can't handle everything well.
I'm not sure...maybe all of these things are true.
Whatever the reason for this unbalance of mine, I'd like to find a way to set it right.
I'd like to be able to nestle into these moments I'm living without feeling like I need to think about a billion other things. I'd like to get my feet sandy and wet with Evie while she plays at the beach. I'd like to fully appreciate the golden warmness of sunlight tangled up in my eyelashes and in the wisps of Nora's hair without my mind being miles away with something that isn't really that important.
I think balancing well might be a little like exercising. You just have to take that first step toward making a change. That first little step that turns into a jog that turns into a run.
If you can relate to this kind of struggle, I would welcome any thoughts or advice.
Maybe it's just nice to know we aren't alone as we figure out how to carry our loads.