Living a balanced life is impossible. There, I said it. There is no way that anyone can keep their life in balance. Honestly, it’s a lie.
Remember riding the teeter totter as a kid.
Up and down, up and down. The only time it was balanced was if someone scooted in or out just enough to suspend both of you for a few brief seconds. And after a few brief seconds you were ready to go up and down again because just dangling is boring. Going up and down was what made the teeter totter fun.
I’m convinced that tires need balancing and a checkbook needs balancing, but your life does not.
Trying to live a balanced life is essentially trying to live a motionless life.
Think about it. Do you really spend as much time sleeping as you do working? Do you spend as much time with your spouse as you do with your kids? If you have more than one kid, do you balance your time with all of them? Do you eat three “balanced” meals a day?
Nope. The truth is nothing in your life is balanced so take that “your life in balance” business and throw it away. Life isn’t about balance, it’s about rhythm. It’s about understanding your rhythm and getting in synch with it.
Let me use my heartbeat as an example to explain rhythm. I work out on a regular basis. One of my exercises is walking on a treadmill. As I begin to walk faster and longer my heartbeat speeds up to supply my body with nutrients. When I am finished exercising my heartbeat returns to normal. When I sleep at night my heart slows even more. My heart is in rhythm with the demands of my body. When I push myself it beats faster. When I rest it beats slower. Everyone has a heartbeat with a unique rhythm that fits their lifestyle. In the same way your life has a rhythm.
Our lives are the same. When you were a child you played with your friends, watched TV, and rode your bike. That was your rhythm. That rhythm changed when you took on a job because you could no longer play with your friends, watch T.V. and ride your bike as much as you did prior to having a job. You developed a new rhythm to adjust to your new responsibilities.
Married people no longer have the same rhythm as they did when they were single. Add a child and the rhythm changes again. Retired people have a different rhythm than a person with a small child. Once we understand these life stages we can identify their rhythms and get in synch with them. Those who learn to synch their rhythms to their life stages will ultimately life a more satisfying life.
If you try to balance everything you are aiming for an impossible goal.
You can sprint for 50 feet, but you can’t sprint for five miles. You can walk five miles if you pace yourself, but it’s impossible to run at a dead sprint for five miles. When you grasp that life is about rhythm it makes sense that sometimes you need to sprint and sometimes you need to walk. This is just life and life is fluid. There are times when you need to work extra hours to get the job done. But when you finish this “sprint,” you need to rest. It’s that simple. It’s about rhythm.
There are times when the kids need to go everywhere at the same time and you need to get them there. And then there are times when you need to slow down and just be. What I’m saying is your life has a rhythm, and you need to figure out when you need to sprint, walk, jog, or rest. That’s how life works and that is why you need to understand that your life has a rhythm and that rhythm changes.
This is the key: Figure out your rhythm and live by it. There will be times when you need to sprint and times when you need to rest. You can figure out where to go from here. Set yourself free and go with the flow. Seek rhythm not balance.
Nobody did this better than Jesus. He was always busy, but never in a hurry. Before He endured the cross, He rested and prayed in the garden. He modeled a rhythmic life, not a balanced life.
Give yourself a break and throw away that stupid analogy of “balance” because it’s impossible. Figure out your rhythm, and you will find peace.
John Braland is the Lead Pastor at Freshwater Community Church in St. Bonifacius.