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  • Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
    Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
  • Rich People Problems: A Novel
    Rich People Problems: A Novel
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel
    Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel

Words I Just Finished Reading

The Kitchen House
The Atomic Weight of Love
We're All Damaged
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Wishful Drinking
News of the World
The Forgotten Garden
Out of My Mind
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Delicious!
There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
My Not So Perfect Life
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Overseas
Moranifesto
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
The Lost Wife
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Anna and the French Kiss
Little Bee


Julie's favorite books »

Friday
Feb032012

Fall Down Go Boom

I tend to pile papers on the left side of our desk.  I keep them in a nice, neat, orderly pile.  But in the stack I have a bizarre mix of papers that need completing and papers that need filing and papers that remind me of the things-I-absolutely-must-buy-if-I-want-to-be-happy.  And these stacks, I admit, can get a teeny-tiny-itsy bit out of control.  Earlier this week, the stack fell over.  Into the floor.  And events like this do not impress my husband.  I try to explain that his standards are high because he has an orderly, clean, organized office.  AND when he’s at work his co-workers don’t barge into his office to tell him that they need to go poop.  But, whatever. 

Balance is one of the words in my vocabulary that I use often; it's usually a propos but it has the added ancillary benefit of making me seem much more enlightened and cool than I really am (and I need all the help I can get in the coolness department).  And it's all well and good.  I am very much in need of balance, of middle ground, of evenness. 

But I have recently realized that the question of balance is often addressed by the solution of adding more.  Need more calm in my mind?  Have to find some quiet time (yeah, right).  Need to get a handle on my to-do list?  I'll just move the "read the book on procrastination" to the top of said to-do list.  Feeling lonely?  Just get out there and meet some strangers!

This week I've realized that when I'm seeking balance, I'm usually striving for it; I’m working at it like it's a science project that's due tomorrow.  But striving is tiring.  Because I'm a perfectionist, I'm usually asking the question: "how can I do it better?"  And "it" can be anything: being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  But as I strive to be better, I crowd out any grace that has been imparted to me.  I miss the balance I already have because I'm striving for the balance I've yet to achieve.

We have busy, complicated, layered lives; the burdens of this world are heavy.  I often add to that unnecessarily by working-working-working at everything.  But with each passing year I’m realizing that which is worthwhile is never achieved while striving.  My understanding of who God is and who I am grows not because I’ve read enough books but simply because I have allowed Him to grow me into who I’m meant to be.  It’s a quiet, lovely process.  And if I’m constantly striving I miss not only that, but I also run the risk of neglecting an important truth: the growing will never be finished. 

And there's no rest in that place of striving.  Definitely no balance.  No acceptance of the life that God has given me that is particularly and uniquely mine.  It's only a place of work and busy-ness and cleaning the floors while I talk on the phone and stay caught up on Words with Friends.  It's a lonely place because relationship becomes about doing instead of enjoying.   

But God's great gift to me is that I may cease that striving.  By accepting what IS, I am freed from the tyranny of my selfishness and of my need for perfection.  I find rest inside the messiness of life (it's behind the couch with that Tinker Toy).  I am a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister because I'm feeling balanced.  My life will still be just this side of crazy and I’ll still be piling up papers and then hiding the piles from my husband to control his blood pressure.

And if I can’t find my mysterious internal balance, I’ll just work on balancing stacked papers.  It’s good to start with small, achievable goals.

See what my patient friend, Hope, has to say about balance.  She’s still waiting for me to send her that one paper that was under that other paper.