Balance. How do we find balance? That’s the million-dollar question that we ask ourselves. We live in a world where we are over-extended, over-obligated and over-stimulated. We wear too many hats: wife, husband, father, mother, teacher, employee, ministry worker, volunteer, and many more. And as you know, each of those hats bear a number of responsibilities, so at the sound of our iPhone alarm we hit the ground running to breakfast, school, work, after school activities, small group, the gym, ministry meetings, family dinners, and on and on. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Something has to give.
Ask yourself, “When I’m most stressed, what gives in my life?” Because something always gives. When you’re over-extended and struggling to get it all done in a day, what’s the first thing to go? Your Bible reading? Worship time? Do you find yourself sleeping in on a Sunday because you’re exhausted and that’s the only time you have free? Perhaps skipping small group because you just need a night at home? I know a lot of these are true for me. I find that when we are stressed physically we sacrifice the things that are important spiritually. We feel like those spiritual things aren’t as pressing as the to-do list in front of us. When we’re stressed we should be getting up early to dig into the Word, running through those church doors to worship our loving Father, and clinging to our small group for prayer and support. But for some reason we do the complete opposite.
So let me ask this question: does it work? Does taking those 30 minutes of Bible reading time and using it to do a load of laundry really work? Does vegging out in front of the TV instead of going to small group make you feel more relaxed? Perhaps it does in the short-term, but the more often we substitute our physical needs for our spiritual ones, the more we create a habit of satisfying the desires of our flesh to get our stuff done at the expense of our spirit.
Let me be honest, I am a repeat offender of this “balance crime”. The constant exchange of spiritual needs for physical ones. I’ve sacrificed my Bible reading and worship time for chores and errands and, yes, it gave me more time in my day, but it also left me feeling stressed and emotional and dissatisfied because I cannot exist on a Sunday sermon to get me through my entire week. I need more.
So, I ask again, how do we find balance? The answer is different for everyone but the first step is always the same: take a spiritual inventory. Ask yourself, “What gives in my life?” And if the answer is time with God, then you know where to start. For me, I had to stop using the excuse, “I don’t have enough time,” and start rephrasing it to, “I didn’t make enough time.” Because when I did my spiritual inventory I found that I may not have had time to read my Bible, but I managed to find time to “like” a dozen videos on Facebook. I didn’t have time to read a devotional, but I never missed an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. My spiritual inventory was painful at first because I came to the realization that I was a very busy woman and a very lazy Christian.
Luke 10 tells the story of two sisters: one busy with the chores of life and one enraptured by the presence of Jesus.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
When I find myself feeling like Martha, overwhelmed by my many chores and stresses, I have to ask myself the question, and I would encourage you to do the same, frequently, “Right now in my life, what gives?”