Raise your hand if you fret about keeping your life “balanced.” Come on, admit it. That’s one of those things women, in particular, obsess about. We’ve grown up to a soundtrack of “you can do anything you want,” but most of us have taken the word anything to mean everything. And this leads us to think we can do it all, all the time, and achieve a balance among the commitments and the desires of our heart: career, family, marriage, self, hobbies, volunteerism. The only trouble is that rarely do any of us feel we have found that elusive “balance.”
Being a daughter of the times in this way, if not in many others, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. A comment my mother made once whispers in my ear quite frequently. “You can perform many ministries consecutively,” she said, “but not necessarily concurrently.” And yet when I ran down the list of my commitments and tried to figure which one/s to pull back on, I couldn’t see a workable way forward.
I’ve come to realize the wisdom of something told to me by a priest when I brought it to him in Confession. Balance isn’t a static point at the center of your life, a six-ton stone balanced at the pinnacle of competing interests, and if it is off by a millimeter the whole works comes crashing down on your head. It is a constant push and pull, with one aspect of life taking the lead at one time and another taking its place in turn. We tend to think that balance, once achieved, simply has to be maintained, when the reality is that balance is a matter of constant wrestling, constant motion. Because let’s face it: life itself is not static, nor are the commitments and desires of our hearts. Wherever human beings are involved, there is change.
In the past year, as I have wrestled with that inevitable push and pull, certain things have come to fruition organically. I decided to stop taking on new voice students, and with the steep dropoff in demand for flute lessons, my new reality involves only a scattered few music lessons. I am now more a writer than a music teacher. I have been able to scale back the time devoted to coordinating our local Couple to Couple League chapter, because another woman has stepped up–not all at once, but piece by piece.
As the kids’ activities tick upward, these things become not only desirable but necessary. I’m easing out of the diaper era and into the “chauffer” era. New challenges. New solutions. Brain stretching. And that’s a good thing.
Yes it is a good thing! As a Benedictine oblate, I spend a lot of time trying to keep all in balance. And musing about it too.
And yes, it is a constant push and pull. It took me a while to figure that out.
Great article. Our lives are always transitioning from one thing to another. The trick to balance is to keep our relationship with God at the center, not the things we think we should be doing for God. He might have other ideas than we of what we should be doing! Most of all, we have to be able to let go of some things while being open to new things He puts in front of us, like your organic development of leaving the diaper stage and moving into the chauffeur stage. We also have to accept that our bodies and minds as we age simply can’t do what we did in our 20s and 30s.
“most of us have taken the word anything to mean everything”, great insight!
I’m trying to replaced “balance” with “rhythm.” Katheleen, you’re the one who knows music; I’m guessing adagio, largo, allegro and creciendo all have their place and as long as God is writing and directing the score it will end well.
I like that.