Life is quite the complicated balancing act. Do you ever feel like you’re perpetually on a seesaw, up then down, fast then slow – a constant ebb and flow? I find balance, though something I crave, is difficult to actually achieve. Usually we hit one extreme, turn around and head straight for the other. I think sometimes we might even believe that a balanced lifestyle is kind of wishy-washy, as if we’re not strongly living out our beliefs, or as if not being extreme means being lame or boring or not really alive.
Balance is essential for calling. There are so many areas where we have to hold two ideas in the tension, understanding the need for both. Here are just a few things we have to balance as we follow our callings:
- The need to provide security and basic needs with the need to follow dreams and take risks with gifts
- Listening with Acting
- The need for rest with the need to persevere or push through
- Careful self-examination with self-acceptance
- Doing what you know from your strengths with allowing yourself to be stretched in new ways
- Confidence with humility
Balance is crucial. Too strong a focus on self-awareness can lead to self-absorption. Too little self-awareness can damage us as we suppress who we are and burn out doing things we weren’t made to do. John Schuster writes that our weaknesses are directly tied to our strengths. For instance, you might have a gift for organizing and delegating work and your weakness might be taking too much control. The Enneagram also backs up this concept with its balance between your strong passion and temptation. A TWO (called the Helper) desires unconditional love and is usually very gifted in loving others. The temptation is to manipulate others with that love and serving, because a two’s greatest fear is being unworthy of love.
I find the hardest balance for me to maintain is remembering to totally depend and rely on God, while still confidently moving forward in using the gifts and abilities he has provided.
So how do we learn balance in our lives?
I think this starts with recognizing which extremes we tend towards so that we can be aware of where we need to be more balanced. Observing the Sabbath, a period of rest and reflection, should be part of the rhythm of our lives that keeps us balanced. After six days of work, a seventh day just for rest and reflection is needed, an established time to zoom out and gain perspective, to evaluate and rejuvenate. I find it hard to keep a whole day free from work – it seems impossible in our 24-7 culture. If you’re like me, maybe starting with a few hours once a week, an afternoon, an evening would be a good first step. Set aside that time intentionally, not just to do nothing, but to reflect and rest. Regaining that more balanced outlook will help us handle the seesaws during the week.