Balance. It’s a simple concept to understand but difficult to achieve. We see it, but often get thrown off by unexpected circumstances, leading us to wobble, figuratively flailing our arms in the air, in hopes to right ourselves before we fall.
The holidays seem to produce two different scenarios for my readers. Two women, similar in age, but different demands. One caring for aging parents and adult children who still require her help; the other her parents have passed on, and her children are living busy lives with little time for her.
“I don’t want to disappoint anyone or put pressure on them.”
This seems to be the mantra of my generation. Repeated by women warn weary by caring for loved ones, it nags them as they navigate through their day. While others pine for the days when their children needed them.
“I set boundaries but when they are questioned, I feel guilty.”
“They put up boundaries for me, but it is ok to cross them now and again. Right?”
We want firm boundaries, but we see the need for grace on these limitations. Often it is a balancing act whose pressure may cause us to teeter and fall.
As we start the new year, what can we put in place that will bring balance to this new territory? Let’s develop a plan that fits our own person, with needs, desires, and individual paths. Here are five ideas to get you started.
- Feed myself
Self-care, often thought of as a passing buzzword, is a Biblical principle. Building an intimate relationship with God is the cornerstone of this principle. Caring for our spiritual life requires us to care for our physical and emotional self as well. Look at this beautiful promise from Jesus in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Start with the following questions, take the time to write down your answer, you may be surprised at what you discover:
Jesus, what do you want me to know today?
What do I need today?
What does time for me look like?
Three simple questions that may take a day, a week, or even months to answer. When our focus rests on others we may miss our own needs. Develop a pattern of listening to the Holy Spirit and your own thoughts.
There are so many other ways to tend our spiritual selves, this is the start to becoming more aware of ourselves. This is not easy, which is why following Christ is a lifelong pursuit.
In your current daily routine, what could produce gratitude? Life may not be as you wished it would be, but what do you appreciate in each day? Thanksgiving changes our hearts and minds, turning our self-talk to the goodness and faithfulness of God. Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 5:20 as he instructs us to live by “giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Make thankfulness a habit.
Do this over and over and over again.
Forgiveness does not excuse the actions of others; it releases the judgement and leaves the justice to God. I know it is not easy, but forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a decision. You choose it and it brings freedom. Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
4. Let them fail.
We do not need to fix our family members’ poor decisions or actions. When anyone comes to you with distress or concerns, ask a simple question:
“Are you venting or asking for advice?”
Many times, our loved ones simply need a sounding board, a place to process their concerns. Even when giving advice, it is up to them to choose to follow it. We fret over a situation that doesn’t belong to us, pray over it, let it go and let them figure it out. Psalm 37:24 reminds us “Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
5. Lay down expectations.
Just because we’ve done life a certain way doesn’t mean we have to continue to do it that way. Especially when dealing with other people and our traditions together, it simply is not possible. There is nothing wrong with expressing your desires for shared life events but maybe it is time for new traditions that don’t always include them or look different.
Often, without thinking about it, we develop ideas of how life should be. James warns us of this in James 4:14 “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
Live in the moment.
No matter where you find yourself in the process of balancing all life has thrown your way, know you are not alone. God goes before, with and after you plus you have a community of women here who understand the struggle of balance. Many of these thoughts came from discussions with dragonfly women after answering question; “What are you struggling with the most right now?”
I’d love to hear the step that most resonates with you. Send me an email or pop over to my social media and let me know how this brings balance to your life.