Recently I heard a sermon about our attempts as Americans to find balance in our lives. If you see balance as the scales in each hand being even, it simply isn't possible. You cannot achieve perfect balance in all the aspects of your life: social, emotional, financial, physical, intellectual and vocational well-being. Yet, the pursuit of that is an endless preoccupation for many of us—and the failure to do so, the cause of much anxiety and stress.
Our pastor referenced Ecclesiastes 3 (made popular when Pete Seeger put it to music in 1959 in "Turn, Turn, Turn, to Everything There is a Season"), saying that you and I might be better served by thinking instead of moving with the rhythm of life. Both the Scripture text and the song speak of "a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [ or reap] what is planted ... a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...." It's less about balance and more about being open to life's rhythms. In other words, go with the flow!
I've been thinking about that a lot since then. For a few years, I've preferred the idea of being grounded rather than the concept of balance. If I have my feet firmly planted on the solid ground of my beliefs and the knowledge of who I am and what is my best "operating system," I will be flexible and able to go with the flow of my life events. That requires me to really know myself well and know what sets me off, what sparks my passion for life, and what responses to fear and stressful life events work best for me. It requires me to be open to life's rhythms, to know when it's time to plant, when it's time to mourn, when things in my life need to die and be transformed.
When you and I are grounded, we are like the earthquake-proofed skyscrapers. We can flex with the winds of change. We can go with the flow and move with the rhythms of life. And that in turn makes our lives feel so much more in balance. So perhaps it's not either/or so much as both/and—as is true so much in life!
What do you think? I'd love to hear.