Thursday, October 23, 2008

On finding balance

Of all the lessons I am struggling to learn, finding balance is surely one of the more difficult, and therefore one of the more stubborn. To put it this way, I constantly felt caught between what I should be, what I want to be, and what I am.

Take yesterday for instance. I was busy. All day. I vacuumed. I mopped. I met my husband for lunch. I ran some errands. I washed and folded (and put away!) several loads of laundry. I ironed. I cooked supper. I transported children to and from school and basketball practice and the barber shop. I did a little Bible study. I replied to email and read a few blogs.

Not necessarily in that order.

It was a good day. A full day.

Yet...

Yet still, there is all that I didn't do. I should've walked, like for exercise. I have book reviews that need to be written. The flowerbed needs weeding. The boys' clothes need sorting. My pantry needs cleaning out. And don't even get me started on the state of my younger sons' room...

And what about those things I want to do? I would have liked to have posted some charming blog thought and read more of the two (or three) books I am currently in the middle of.

What does it mean to redeem the time when I can't do all I ought, much less all I want? What redeems the time and what wastes it? Is it merely a matter of discipline and good time management skills?

I think part of the answer lies in priorities. "Do the next important thing," I read somewhere recently. Wise advice. Yet still I wonder: can reading be the next important thing over mopping my floor? When do I cross the line to self indulgence?

Other days are somewhat less productive as compared to yesterday, so perhaps it is a lack of self discipline. I've tried to implement a schedule for myself, but I inevitably end up distracted or my best laid plans become thwarted by the unexpected, and my schedule becomes a source of guilt.

How am I to spend my day? What does redeeming the time look like here in my real life of laundry and blogging and car line? Is it only about a floors mopped and miles walked? How can I know what is good and what is best? What is it the Lord requires of me? Can I know?

Am I alone in my struggle? Are you master of your To Do list, or do you, like me, struggle with (not) doing it all?

While sometimes I am unsure about how exactly it translates into my everyday life, I can know what the Lord requires of me:

"...to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [my] God..." (Micah 6:8)

"Whatever [my] hand finds to do, [to] do it with [my] might..." (Ecc. 9:10)

To love well, my blog friend Kelly is no doubt itching to comment. Not only that, but the Word of God promises that as I seek Him in humble surrender, He will direct my path and my To Do list.

Perhaps this day I clean house. The next I may run errands. Whatever I do, may I work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord I will receive the inheritance as my reward. I am serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)

9 comments:

  1. I am not a master at balance! I do find that when I pray over the day & ask the Lord what He wants me to accomplish, I get much more done.

    I've learned this past year what it takes for my family to feel comfortable and happy, and what makes us (me) cranky. For instance, we spend most of our time in the great room/kitchen. I can't stand those rooms being cluttered. When they are clean, I'm able to function better, and I'm calmer. That means my hubby & daughter are happier, too. Having everything in its place in those rooms makes my life run smoother...no matter what the rest of the house looks like.

    Long story short...for me, it's about what's necessary for you & your family to function smoothly (and that will look different for every family) The rest is just details, expectations, and pressure we don't need to succumb to.

    Joanne @ The Simple Wife (thesimplewife(dot)typepad(dot)com) is doing a series on simplifying your life and getting balanced/organized. Check it out. She's great!

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  2. My to-do list always gets the better of me as well!

    I love those verses you have given. In light of eternity, a mopped floor or a weeded flower bed isn't really that important... unless, of course, God is speaking to me about slothfulness. While it's nice to have things in order, it is more important to walk humbly and love mercy. Which may mean that the floor is not always clean and the flowers may need to endure a few weeds.

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  3. I think it sounds like you are very well-balanced. Your house isn't perfect. You aren't an obsessive housekeeper. But you don't live in a sty. Yes, there will always be more to do. But I think those verses are absolutely right on. Choose "being" over "doing". The doing will flow from the being, I suspect.

    And don't sweat/obsess over the small stuff. Grace abounds!

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  4. I don't think, if we are truly honest, that any of us can 'do it all'. Finding balance in all things is the key yet sometimes eliminating other things is vital.

    I'm sure you are doing better than you give yourself credit for.

    Trusting God to show you priorities and bringing peace as you learn and grow.

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  5. You are so NOT alone in your struggle. On a "balanced" day, I take a real lunch break and I don't work after dinner.

    My expectations from the time I pick kids up from school to the time they go to bed? This is the peak of my day, the busiest hours. I rarely try to fit in anything for myself during that time.

    And I'm with Melissa - I can deal with a "common living area" not being perfectly clean if it is uncluttered.

    On a balanced day, the entire family does a "ten minute tidy" in the common living areas every night which includes the directive "leave no trace" (that you were here - it's a cub scout thing) Tomorrow, I know that won't happen (homecoming game), so I've already changed my expectations so I wont' be frustrated.

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  6. Lisa, I know that you and I are not the only people that stuggle with the barrage of things that need to get done, yet don't. I think the key to it all is the balance that you spoke of. We have to learn to not beat ourselves up over the things we didn't do, and focus on what we did get done. I lose sight of this so much, though. However, there's always tomorrow to try again. I enjoyed your post. I'm glad to know that I'm not in this alone. There are always others who stuggle with the same thing. But, God is always there to pick us up and tell us to keep forging on.

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  7. Right there with you and you commenters! It seems I can't ever figure out how to manage my time and energy optimally. There's always something else I "should" do or would like to do. There's the guilt, of course, and the longing to be and do better than I am today.

    Sigh... "Progress, not perfection" is a phrase I repeat often to myself. ;)

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  8. You caught me. I was thinking "Love well." But sadly, I don't live my motto as well as I'd like. I'm always second-guessing and re-prioritizing and struggling to right the ship. I think it's part and parcel of being human.

    The best I can figure is to do my best, repent when I mess up, accept God's mercy and start afresh tomorrow. It's tough.

    I really think so much of our lives hinge on finding balance.

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  9. Guh....I'm just like you, Lisa. I mean, my activities are different, being a college student, and single, but still: life's hectic, and I "don't have enough time."

    I'm trying to learn to master my time, but it's definitely a learning process...and full of growing pains.

    Not much help. :) Just know that you're not alone in that struggle. There's plenty of us out here!

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