I am a routine-oriented person.
So much so, that when my routine is rattled, my habits shake with it. I tend to slump into laziness. In these times, I 1) take no initiative in my life and 2) don’t really care to. I try to categorize this practice as “rest”, but since I don’t tend to use it steeping in God’s word or sleeping, it’s not really rest, is it? It’s procrastination, pure and simple.
I’m telling you this because, in the chaos of life, I crave routine. We crave order. We all crave balance.
We crave this because our busy culture has tweaked what we perceive balance to be. With the word ‘balance’, we often think of a life with all our priorities blocked and scheduled in a nice little planner that has tabs for the months. In all reality, true balance is a lot messier than that.
But what is balance? How do we live a balanced life?
I’m sure you’re much more acquainted with the push-and-pull dynamic your fight for balance drags you into than you think. We’re all grappling for a balanced mindset between the future and the now, the routine and the spontaneous, the difficult and the easy. And just when we think we’ve found the middle of the scale, we find ourselves overworked or lazy or unsure about where to step next as to not fall off a cliff… and the light at the end of the tunnel is murky, at best.
I have multiple friends going through incredibly difficult situations – mourning family members, fighting illness or conditions, or struggling through hard conversations and relationships; to name a few. These and my own struggles have often had me asking God, ‘What is the balance? What am I supposed to do, and what am I to leave up to you? Where am I to act, and where am I to wait? Where’s the balance I’m missing? How are we to respond when our routines are upturned?’
Through my pondering and prayer over these questions, I think I’ve discovered a fairly comprehensive answer: There is none. At least, none that specific.
Nobody has come up with a fool-proof formula for a balanced lifestyle. And maybe that’s the point.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
As Ecclesiastes points out, there is a time and season for everything under heaven. So why don’t we just let that be?
If we’re too busy waiting for our lives to sort themselves out… we miss out on so many opportunities. Life isn’t about waiting for sunny days after the storm, but about dancing in the rain as it falls.
The key to finding balance and joy in our messy lives is opening our eyes to seeing the beauty in all moments – planned or spontaneous; mundane or explosive. I’ve realized that a life lived with joy isn’t so much an indiscernible balance between the various contrasts we find in this world as it is sticking place between them. That sticking place being Christ, and His joy.
Finding contentment with our chaotic and nutty lifestyles is easier said than done. And I don’t have all the answers – in fact, I don’t have much of any. I have learned, though, that our culture’s idea of balance won’t last us. If we try to stick unflinchingly to our personal ideals of balance, we’ll find ourselves constantly awaiting the returns of our runaway routines and miss so much throughout the journey of our lives.
I pray that the Lord would help us to rest in the unplanned just as much as the planned, and to screw our courage to the Sticking Place of joy in between the cracks – and that our eyes would be open to seeing the beauty right before us.
For everything there is a season – and we really don’t have a say in how those seasons play out. Truly, the balance of life isn’t juggling plans and routines. It is a choice to wake up and dance for joy, no matter what the day may hold.
We can thrive in the chaos just as much as the calm, in the unorganized as much as the planned, and in the rain just as much as the sun; when we choose to simply be flexible.
There is much beauty in embracing the unexpected.