Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finding Balance?

Ann posted on her blog about finding balance when things get busier and less serene than we'd like and asked how we find balance. I think she had in mind just a few simple things in reply rather than a long list, and that's why I'm posting my response here instead of in her comment box!

My family chose to live a slow-paced life. It was a priority that required fairly continual evaluation, deliberation, and determination. The whole world is moving at a fast and furious pace, offering us an increasing number of good things to do. More than ever, we need to be discerning and deliberate about our choices. And I realize that some of us have more freedom than others to make choices and to shape our days as we will, but however much choice we have, we can be wise with it.

The things I kept going back to over the years to keep my life feeling pleasant, as unstressed as possible, and balanced on a day to day basis (mostly in random order):

1. Having and recalling my vision. Knowing what God has called me to and, prayerfully, letting that be my guide. My rule.

2. Saying no. Knowing where my boundaries need to fall, and absolutely not allowing my margins to be pushed outward. Even when things change and kids grow older. Margin is essential. When new things come in, they should not be crowded in, but adjusted for. A trade-off or exchange. Make sure it's a good one.

3. Staying home! Making a home is my calling.

4. These things daily-- nature, beauty, order, creativity, reading, hard work, service (even a simple kind act).

5. Journaling.

6. Bible reading and prayer (of course).

7. Creating and embracing daily routines, rituals, and work. Realizing their calming, discipline-building, joy-giving power in the lives of family members.

8. When I feel strained, hurried, rushed, pressured, harried (not just on one day, but on an increasing number of days), I mercilessly hack out commitments and activities and projects (when I have a choice, which I most often do), without guilt. Or I delegate responsibility. I scale back until general home and soul-peace is restored.

9. Finding a healthy tension between leisure and work, involvement outside the home and commitment inside the home, activity and quiet, family relationships and outside relationships, etc.

10. Walking. Exercise. (And healthy eating.)

11. Laughter. Real, relaxed, leisurely laughter.

12. Sharing my life with others through hospitality and caring. Helping in some way, meeting for coffee and conversation, listening, writing a letter, making a phone call, giving an appropriate gift, taking a meal, enjoying friendships. Again, it can be kept simple.

13. Choosing to be cheerful.

14. Choosing to be grateful.

15. Keeping my life, possessions, days, and routines simple and easy-enough to maintain.

16. If I absolutely cannot keep the house orderly and clean, generally speaking and on a regular basis, then something needs to change! I've found that an orderly, clean house adds significantly to my sense of balance and well-being.

I could probably consolidate some of these, and there might be more, but off the top of my head, these are some real things I use (and used) all the time to guide and evaluate my days, my use of time, and my sense of balance. Your list would likely be different.

Prayer, of course, is the real key. God promises to give us Light for the path He's called us to walk. And that is a bit different for all of us, but whatever our path, His burden is light. His way is rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~Matthew 11:28-30