Chasing a Life of Balance

chasing balance

I feel so out of balance.

It’s not just because I have a cold this week (thanks boys!), though I’m sure the itch in my throat and the pain in my ears are messing with my equilibrium. I just feel like everything is up in the air and that I’m somehow just churning through each day – a slave to my calendar, not terribly motivated to do anything except maybe sleep and re-read the Divergent books for the tenth (okay, twelfth) time. Balance has been hard to find.

So little time, so little me, so little balance

(C) Steve A Johnson
(C) Steve A Johnson

Our day-to-day schedule has changed a lot in the last couple of months. First I planned to go from three days to four at my office…and then I quit entirely. But that only lasted for a day, because then I was brought back full-time with a raise that actually made it feasible to send Arthur to day care.

Of course, that change means that the mornings are tighter than they used to be. Now I have to dress two of us and incorporate drop-offs and pick-ups into my daily commute. The distance is negligible, but the new route involves getting on the highway and a lot more waiting. On the flip side, I just worked out my schedule to start a half hour later than I was previously – a small but welcome cushion.

As I continue discerning my call to ministry and learning more about the “plumbing” of the church I have also become involved in more of the congregation’s ministries. In addition to praise team every 2-3 weeks, I am also in charge of our involvement in a local tutoring ministry at a low-income housing community. Most Tuesday afternoons I will be there for an hour and a half. And then…

We started a small-group study at our church that I’ve been looking forward to since the first time one of the pastors brought it up. Every Tuesday until November I will go straight from tutoring to grab a very quick bite to eat and then join Brian at the church for 90 minutes of study and discussion. I thought (naively) that by loading my recurring obligations into the same day I would be freeing us up for the rest of the week. While we love our group, though, the schedule crunch has turned most weeks so far into a fire drill. It’ll take some creative planning on our part to make it all work better.

It isn’t just my schedule that’s taking a hit; Brian has consistently been staying over to finish jobs at work, since his paycheck depends on how much work he gets done rather than how long he is at the dealership. It’s like the worst parts of salary and hourly wage scales thrown together into one horrible paycheck gollum. Flat rate is, in my experience, flat-out crummy.

A lot is slipping through the cracks as we cling jealously to the little time we have together en famille – when we are home together, dinner is usually a fast affair followed by bath and bedtime within the hour thanks to Arthur’s established evening routine. When we’re out together…well, everyone who doesn’t deal with the fallout from that is fortunate. I can’t find balance at all when my family is so disjointed – when am so off kilter.

Jumping off the Carousel

CarouselMost days our life feels like a carousel – up and down, constantly turning and churning, to the point that even the pretty colors start to blur together and I regret that last bite of funnel cake. (Okay, I never regret funnel cake.)

I’m ready to jump off.

I need to put the focus in our home back where it belongs, and there is where we will all find balance.

That means:

More preparation in the evening for less rushing in the morning.

Fewer wasted moments for more cherished memories.

Protecting the sanctity of our time and needs, even if it means saying “No” – and even if it upsets others.

Each member of our little tribe needs to start putting our family – and the balance of our home – before the other demands of the world. Otherwise, those demands threaten to suck out everything sweet and wonderful about our life together…and we will fall apart.

With God’s grace, we will not fall apart.