Working Toward Balance

Escape?

Don’t we all dream of escaping from life from time to time? A warm, tropical beach. A quiet house on the lake. Just a place where the noise of life stops, and we can hear ourselves think and breathe.

For most of us though, total escape is just a fantasy because it just isn’t practical. Family. Work. Church. Lots of commitments. Plus, life doesn’t stop just because you take a break.

Still, the lure of time and space to think lurks in the back of most people’s minds at least occasionally, and we usually make one of two choices when we become aware of these thoughts.

  1. Push any personal desires, wants or needs to that area of the mind specializing in forgotten hopes and dreams.
  2. Pursue selfish ambitions regardless of the impact on others.

Two extremes. Neither a great choice. Fortunately, there is a third option. We can also choose a more balanced approach somewhere between giving in to selfish desires and forgetting all sense of individual needs.

Choice #3 requires a more constant effort because it resists natural tendencies, whereas the first and second choices provide absolutes that push to extremes that seem easier to maintain. In other words, saying “no” or “yes” to everything is easier than saying “no” or “yes” to some things.

A 3-Step Process for Balance

This three-step process can not only help bring a sense of balance, but it can also help keep it there for the long haul.

  1. Plug In. Whether introvert or extravert, sanguine or melancholy, everyone needs connection. Connection with others happens in a variety of ways from personal interests to church attendance. Plugging in regularly to Christ on an individual, one-on-one basis is, of course, the most essential relationship and needs emphasis. Plugging in revolves around the idea of filling up the reservoir to be able to nourish others.
  2. Recharge. Failure to recharge batteries often enough, and in many cases at all, results in complete failure at some point. Recharging is about balance. Recharge regularly by eating healthy, exercising, and drinking enough water. Oh, and get enough sleep too.
  3. Unplug. Unplugging means alone time, a treasure so many of us crave and fail to get enough of regularly. Pick one or two things you enjoy that allows you time to unplug. Then, make them a priority. Finding small pockets of time for unplugging can be an quite effective method for finding balance if done consistently.

Many who read this will say something like this…

“Sure, that would be wonderful, but there’s no way I can make that happen in my busy life.”

You’re right! YOU cannot make that happen. Without a deliberate an intentional plan and the help of those closest to you, this process is not going to happen for anyone.

3 Essential Elements in the Process

Three elements that must exist for anyone to truly be able to take care of themselves in a way that allows for as consistent of a state of balance as possible.

  1. Be Deliberate and Intentional. Carefully consider how taking care of yourself not only makes you healthier as an individual but positively contributes to the health of your family as well. Purpose to find ways to regularly plug in, recharge and unplug.
  2. Focus on Small Things. Chances are that a week-long vacation alone is not going to happen for most of us, and even a weekend away is probably iffy. But, working in small pockets of time for plugging in, recharging and unplugging can add up over time to make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to schedule time on the calendar for this either.
  3. Be Determined. Time to plug in, recharge and unplug will not happen by itself. Well, it won’t unless we run ourselves so ragged that illness or depression force us to stop. We must make a determined effort to schedule time for ourselves because it simply won’t happen otherwise.

Think of how balance is achieved when someone is riding a bike or standing on one leg… by making constant small adjustments. That’s the idea we’re getting at with the above steps and essential elements.

Keep moving forward. Keep making adjustments. Keep working toward balance.

The Mark of Love

Human Maturity

Human maturity involves independence and self care. It involves taking responsibility for commitments. It also means refusing to make excuses and to instead always strive for our best.

As a parent, one of my goals has always been to teach my boys to become independent. I want them to know how to take care of themselves and to be responsible in a well-rounded way. This is the essence of human maturity.

Recently, my husband had to remind me of this goal when I expressed discouragement over my boys needing me less and less every day. My sadness about their pulling away from me became quite heavy one day, and he said…

“Remember, that’s always been our goal.”

Like independence is important in our development as humans, learning dependence on Jesus and His Holy Spirit is even more so in our spiritual maturity.

Spiritual Maturity

Unfortunately, I don’t think I taught my boys the idea of spiritual maturity very well, probably because I’m still learning it myself. And largely because dependence goes against the human part of me that desires to be in control.

“Spiritual maturity is counter to human maturity.” (December 20th, Live Dead Joy by Dick Brogden)

Spiritual maturity involves dependence on God and allowing him to actively care for us. It involves waiting patiently for him to unfold his will and then moving fully into it. Spiritual maturity also means continually acknowledging our weaknesses and realizing we can only be our best under His grace and mercy.

“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.” (Hebrews 6:1)

Moving forward in spiritual maturity brings growth that obviously lies beyond any we could obtain on our own.

The Mark of Love

Spiritual growth becomes obvious to ourselves and others through one indelible mark.

“Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)

If we only mature in a human sense, we become increasingly self-serving and defiantly independent. But, if we also mature spiritually, we live in humble obedience seen through the mark of love on our lives.

Guest Post – Five Things Happy Women Do Differently

Our guest post today comes from Jill Campbell Farris at Generational Womanhood. Jill writes and speaks from Washington State where she and her husband Doug have been married for 30 years. They are the proud parents of 8 children ages 7 to 27.

Jill invites you to visit her blog www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com and like Generational Womanhood on Facebook. Visit her speakers website www.jillcampbellfarris.com and follow her on twitter @jcampbellfarris.

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Five Things Happy Women Do Differently

1.) They give thanks.

Want a wonderful summer project? Delve into God’s word and count how many times He commands us to give thanks. The Bible was originally read by people who had short life expectancies, no conveniences and high infant mortality rates yet God said “Give thanks.”

He still tells us to do the same!

Want to be loved and wanted? Cultivate a spirit of gratitude and you will have the world beating a path to your door!

2.) They don’t compare.

Yes, we women are very good at this. We compare physical attributes, houses, homeschooling schedules and “to do” lists and, in the process, we look critically at one another. Instead, the Bible says to practice “One anothering” which involves honoring, loving and serving each other. Oh, may we treat “one another” the way that God intends so that the world will see and know that we are His disciples.

3.) They serve.

By getting outside of ourselves and following in the footsteps of Jesus, we become His hands and feet to a hurting world. Whatever stage of life in which you find yourself begin with small steps of service.

Take your young children to visit the elderly and watch how their presence brightens up a darkened place. If you are unable to leave your home, pray over the phone for those who are hurting. There is great joy to be found in serving others!

4.) They forgive.

You may be practicing gratitude, service and “one anothering”   but if you are bitter or angry toward someone you will not be happy. Ask God to show you if you are secretly angry with anyone. Don’t be embarrassed to confess resentment and bitterness over little incidents…hurt comes in all shapes and sizes.

Make the decision to forgive and then walk in forgiveness. Mark on your calendar the day you chose to forgive and when the memory comes up to slap you in the face, tell the enemy of your soul that you have confessed it and been cleansed under the blood of Jesus. He has taken care of it. You can trust Him.

5.) They take care of themselves.

Sometimes you may feel like you hate everyone and what you really need is a good night’s sleep. Until you meet Jesus face to face, your soul is housed in a body that influences its emotions and spirit. It is spiritually wise to take care of yourself so you can be a blessing to those whom God has called you to influence and to bless.

You, dear Christian woman, are an incredible force for evil or for good. Your influence will be felt for generations to come. What kind of impact do you want to have on others? Ask God to give you the will to embrace His ways. May the legacy of your life be one of genuine Christ-like joy!

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Here are some of my favorite posts from Generational Womanhood: