I'd like to close this blog series/musings on balance with a few closing with one important, final point. Our lives consist of many elements and the times when everything is in perfect order will be rare. As the old saying goes, "it's always something." One area will get worked out, and something will go out of whack in another area. It's not bum luck, or life being out to get you. It's just the nature of reality. As much as we strive to get things in order, we also must accept the contradiction that there will almost certainly be some level of chaos in life.
I know this seems to fly in the face of my musings over the past month, but it's a truth that must be faced. The good news is that if you do your best to set boundaries and do what's right, then you can handle the inevitable kinks in your well laid plans. Life is always going to throw new challenges at you, but you can meet them if you've gained self confidence through knowing yourself and your life well enough to seek the opportunity in challenges and find ways to incorporate those benefits into what you have.
It also takes acknowledging the very fact that life is a series of ebbs and flows. It's like a pendulum swinging - things will always go up and down, over and over - and you may be at one state in one area and a completely different state in another area. Take my life, for example. My family, home and health are rolling right along (thank God), but my job is absolutely insane right now. Current and coming staff changes have caused my workload to explode. But you know what? I've been here before, and I know I can make it through. The vacancies will be filled, new people will be trained, and this too shall pass. Plus, I'm fortunate to work with good people in a great place, and they help and support me as much as they can. Sure, it can be tough to face the day when you know it's an avalanche of chaos heading right for you, but I've faced times like this before and have learned that I can only do my best and it will have to be good enough because it's all I have to offer. I had to learn to be happy with that.
You also have to learn not to let the expectations of others bother you too much. Although it's not an issue now (as I said, I have good co-workers), I have been in situations where people thought I wasn't "doing enough" or "doing good enough" and felt they had to express their bitter disappointment in me - frequently and loudly. In fact, my last "challenging season" was full of people grouching at me for one reason or another. I had to learn to tell them to accept my best or buzz off. And of course, they came back to try again, but after being stonewalled with that response 2 or 3 times, they got frustrated enough to realize that I wasn't going to solve their problems and they'd just have to do it themselves. But I credit them for being some of the inspiration for Splinter so heh heh heh - be careful ticking off a writer, for you might inspire their muse.
Joking aside, it's an important point. One key factor in keeping balance is knowing how much you can do, and not trying to do it. Accept your best and mind your own business. Help where you can, but realize limits. Don't overstep your bounds. And for the love of God, accept reality. That's #1. Too many people spend great amounts of time and energy trying to force things to happen that shouldn't be, or forcing people to serve roles in their life that they aren't meant to serve. It's an exercise in frustration, but it's an exercise many people seem to enjoy. You have to step back, take a good, hard look at your life every now and then, and make adjustments. We all get out of order from time to time, especially when those mountains pop up before us. It's all too easy to let one or two things take over your life and mind. Don't permit that to happen. If you start to feel like something's taking a bigger place in your life than it should, find out how the encroachment happened and fix it. Sure, there are times when emergencies or whatnot require us to put our priorities or desires on the back burner, but they should be temporary. If it becomes a lifestyle, you've allowed something to get far out of balance and it needs to be corrected - quickly and efficiently. But be forewarned: when somebody or something creeps in the center of your life then be ready for a fight, because they aren't giving up that space lightly. But it's a fight that must be had, and won.
Balance is probably the most important factor in living a life that's happy, healthy, and productive. Frankly, you can't find success without it. And while it's a continual work in progress, it's work that's integral to living well and necessary to living right.
That's all today. Take care and have a good weekend.
Two years ago, our Sunday School class did an in-depth study of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. One of the interesting concepts he presented is “The Law of Undulation,” which basically means that life is a series of peaks and valleys, and we are always in some phase of this ebb and flow.
It’s absolutely true. My life over the past eighteen months is a testament to it.
This Thursday will be exactly one year since my last day of work at my old department. I don’t know why this feels like a reason to celebrate. Perhaps because it seems to signal progress to me: that I’m in a better place than I was a year ago, and that I’ve managed to take the pieces of my life and put them together into something new and better than what I had before.
Last year, it seemed too much when my in-laws went from 100 miles away to right next door, and my job transferred me to a new department a few months later. There were times when I felt I had no peace anywhere. But I learned that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle, and with His help, I not only survived but have thrived in these new conditions.
I know my full strength in Him, and that nothing is impossible (sometimes people aren’t willing to allow Him to make all things possible – but let’s save that for another entry!). I know my purpose and myself better, and I’m not afraid of who I am; not even the little inconsistencies that sometimes puzzled me about myself. I am a whole human being and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know that I not only have a right, but a duty to be my authentic self and that to be anything else is offensive to the Lord and what He created me to be. I know that anything worth having is a lot of work – more than I imagined possible – but the rewards are usually bigger than you imagined.
Most importantly, I learned that if God brings me to it, He’ll bring me through it. And because of that, I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t fear what might be, or what’s around the next corner. I have learned the true meaning of Romans 8:28; that “all things work together for good for those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose.” I am called by Him for a purpose. I know I may not understand many things, and I’m okay with that because I have seen His power move mountains in my life that I thought could never budge. They did, and I’m a better person because of increased faith because of it.
I’m not so arrogant as to believe that doubt will never come again. I made that mistake once, and boy did I get a double dose of humility. I know now that if you try to do what’s right, it’s really going to piss the devil off and he will attack you with all his might. But the Lord is on our side, so the devil can’t win. It won’t stop him from trying, so the challenge during times of trial and testing is to remember this: that Satan is already defeated and he cannot win in our life if we call on Christ to defend and protect us.
There are two morals to this entry. First, my secret to making it through such a chaotic transition was prayer. I learned the true meaning of “praying without ceasing.” Second, nothing last forever. So take heart. If you’re in a rut, don’t worry because something will eventually move and get you out. If life is chaos, don’t worry because it will eventually settle. If you’re down, don’t worry because you will rise. If you’re up, don’t get arrogant because you will come off that mountaintop eventually (so enjoy it while you can, but stay humble and give thanks always). The nature of the universe is change and the nature of life is undulation. Up and down, always in motion. Even when it looks like nothing’s happening, it is. Sometimes that motion is barely perceptible. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But it’s always there.
Don’t ever ask “is it over yet?” because it won’t be until you die. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
That’s all today.