Thursday, July 1, 2010

Balance, Part II

Yikes. Apparently I have a lot to say about balance! After a long post on Tuesday, we're gearing up for another long one today. But before you're tempted to think that I have this all figured out, let me assure you that I'm as much of a sojourner as any of you. I make horrible mistakes in my pathetic attempts to keep my life sane and balanced. I yell at my kids when they interrupt something "important" that I'm in the middle of doing. And I drive myself in circles trying to make it all work. But I'm learning as I go, and it's getting better. A few years ago I don't think I was in a very healthy place. Now I can honestly say that my stress level is so low sometimes I should probably check my blood pressure. That's saying a lot for this formerly high-strung missy!

Anyway, on to a few more things I've learned about balance along the way...

3. Dream big, but be realistic. Sad to say, but no, you really can't do everything... Though God might have a few surprises up his sleeve. I went through four different majors in college before I finally settled on one. It was such a tough decision for me because there were a dozen things I wanted to do! I was passionate about law and journalism and global issues... Never mind art and writing and veterinary medicine. I wanted to be a marine biologist and an international lawyer and missionary in Uganda. God gave me big dreams and I wanted to do them all. I still want to do them all, and believe it or not, God is continuing to give me ways to fulfill my dreams. But they don't always look like I envisioned they would. I've been a lifeguard, a ranch hand on a dairy farm, a teacher, a speaker, an author, a mother, and a founding member of an exciting non-profit. Not all at the same time, though some of those dreams overlapped. I think the secret to fulfilling those longings was the fact that I held them loosely and I didn't force them--I knew I couldn't be everything I wanted to be and do everything I wanted to do, so I picked a passion (seemingly giving up other dreams) and went with it. Then God opened another door and I walked through that one, too. Several doors later and I can look back and realize that the path I've trod has been paved with dreams--ones that were gifted to me instead of ones that I fought for.

4. Rest. Relax. Be patient. Wait. I'm an ambitious girl. I like to chart my own course and make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to me. I don't know, maybe that works for some people. But in my "old age" I'm realizing that every day is a gift. I don't want to spend it wishing that I was doing something else or forcing something to happen that isn't meant to be. If my baby needs me today, I want to have the patience to put everything else aside--all the other things that I think are important to "balance"--and focus heart and soul, body and mind on the child that has been placed in my arms. There will be another day to write. Another day to revamp my blog or have a heart-to-heart over coffee with my best friend. All in God's good time.

5. Give it up. This is the last bit of "wisdom" I'm going to give you and it might be the hardest to receive. For people like us (people who embrace creativity, dream big, and long to make a difference in the world) it's hard to understand that every passion and dream we have is not heaven-sent. But sometimes we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and assess what we see. Ask yourself the following questions: Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this? Is it a true calling on my life or is it merely a passion? What do I have to give up in order to pursue this dream? Is it worth the sacrifice? Sometimes your final answer is going to be a resounding no. Or not yet. I have given up several things (some kicking and screaming, some willingly) that were not good for me. I'm not saying they weren't good things in and of themselves, but for me at that stage in my life they were time-drains. Or worse. But there is even redemption in giving something up. I can't tell you how good it feels to let go of something that you shouldn't have been clinging to in the first place! Talk about freedom!

Well, there you have my suggestions for finding balance. I'd love to hear what you have to say. What are some things you do to keep a little balance in your life? Do you have any specific advice to share? Stories of your own successes or failures along the way? Let's keep the conversation going...


  1. Great post Nicole!
    I know that there are many things that I dream about doing in my life. I realize I can't do them all, but that hasn't stopped me from believing that somehow it's possible and that God has really called me to all those things! lol
    Your #5 makes so much sense. I will have to take a long, hard look at my passions and weed out those things of less importance.
    Thanks for posting this thought provoking topic.

  2. I enjoy knowing we had a long chat face-to-face within 2 hrs of this post! As for balance, I'll piggyback on #5 by saying one of my hardest struggles was surrendering the idea of the dream. There have been times in my life where present struggle has consumed me so completely that I fear forgetting my dreams and goals. Security is knowing I am God's first and foremost, but a meta-security is knowing that when even _I_ forget my dreams, he remembers. He redeems what I forgot was taken and restores that which I forgot I lost. I run myself ragged trying to remind myself what I want to accomplish, fearful I won't accomplish anything unless I remember--only to find that God's plan for my life includes instilling a lot of those dreams in the first place. He chooses to forget my sins in light of Christ, but he never forgets the threads of any dream he gives me.

    A gift you enjoy is wonderful; a gift someone gives you that you forgot you wanted and THEY remembered is soul-healing. Balance for me incorporates loosing my grip on believing _I_ am what maintains the essence of who I am. Only God does that.

  3. I'm glad the post made sense to you, Valerie. I think there are many more "truths" about balance, and many different ways to approach it in our individual lives, but these are some lessons that have helped me tremendously along the way. And yes, #5 has been big for me... The first few times I "just said no" it was soooo hard. But I'm getting better at discerning what is good for me and what is not. I still have a long ways to go!!! BTW, thank you so much for the recipes! We have a 4th of July party this weekend and I'm going to try the tamale pie. I'll let you know how it turns out! :)

    Susan, you are so right: "a gift someone gives you that you forgot you wanted and they remembered is soul-healing." AMEN! I have had God drop things in my lap that were secret, forgotten longings of my heart... What an amazing experience. I think I'd advocate for intentionally giving up one love just to allow God the joy of giving it back to you at the perfect point in time. Beautifully said. And thank you for the wonderful face to face, dear friend.

  4. Good advice in both blogs on balance! I tend to get so caught up in all the goals I want to accomplish and end up running in circles. Taking a good hard look at all that I am doing and really finding direction is something I will definitely have to do. One question I do have, for you Nicole, and anyone else who has success in this area, is how did you transition to being a morning person when this is not naturally how you are? I saw that mentioned in the previous blog on balance and am looking forward to hearing advice on this... I know I can accomplish so much more if I can make that transition successfully....

  5. Balance is a tough one. The biggest change I have made in my life is that my personal devotional time; however, long or short, is one of the first things I do in my day. I don't lock myself in a room, I sit out in the living room in the midst of the chaos of life with a five year old. She watches me and learns from me (I have a story to go with that for a later time).

    My husband has long ago said to me, "if it can wait until tomorrow, let it wait." That has been hard for me to do, but once I figured out that going outside to draw with chalk on the driveway or ride quad with my daughter means so much more than the sinkful of dirty dishes or the unfolded basket of laundry, it was all ok.

    I don't keep an immaculate house unless I know company is coming and even then I take my mother's advice, "You want it clean enough they'll come back but not so clean they don't dare come back." :)

    I have lots of things I want to do, I have a list, some are realistic and some are out of this world. I love to do things on my realistic list and dream about the rest, and that is ok, too. Some day, I'll work on my bucket list!

    Once you are able to achieve balance, and do a few things well instead of a bunch of things ok, life comes into balance on its own. At least that is what I've found. And then when life throws a curve ball, it's easier to keep things in perspective.