"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finding balance

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Finding balance isn't easy for me. I started the year with a simplified schedule. I cut out several things that I like doing so that I would be able to do other things with more focus and so that I would have more margin. 

It is only the middle of March and I am once again heading toward over-commitment. 

Why is this such a problem for me? I think I have figured it out. Lack of self-control. 

We generally think of self-control when it comes to eating, money, shopping or our temper, but saying no takes a lot more self control that you might think.

I don't get bogged down in things that I hate to do. OK, putting away laundry and hand-washing floors are not things that I love, but I don't hate them. I get overwhelmed by things that are good. That are fun. That I like to do! Serving in one too many ministries at church. Offering help to one more friend. Saying yes to that one temporary job outside the home. Scheduling too many extracurricular activities for our family. One too many lunches with my friends.

I have been known to spend the majority of my time on something trying to "get it in order", but I then am forced to spend extra time somewhere else to make up for it. For example: I decided I needed to put my need to exercise on the front burner because I wanted to get healthy (and lets face it, slimmer and sexier!). I spent a couple weeks putting in tons of extra time trying to walk my way thin and neglected my housework. I then realized that I had a disgusting house and had to spend extra time getting it back in order. My exercise went out the window. Another example: I teach our church's kindergarten thru 5th grade class during one of our main services and I love it. But I also am part of the worship team which feeds my spirit. Last year during the week before Easter I was at the church every afternoon/evening working on something. No exercise or housework or family time that week. by Sunday, you know, EASTER Sunday (My absolute favorite day of the year by the way!) I was so sick I couldn't go to church. I missed my favorite church day, my favorite day of the year because I was so overworked and run down that I became sick. 

Good things don't necessarily make them the right things to be doing. I am once again figuring out how to thin down our family's to-do's so that we can spend more time together. I don't want our summer to be a series of timetables, chore charts and busy busy busy. Not only does this create a home environment that is hurried and chaotic, but it also creates hurried and chaotic emotions and thoughts. 

By using the above verse from Galatians, I have a great scale to weigh our schedule on. Here are a few ways to figure out if what you are comptemplating adding to your schedule should really be there:

Love: Ask yourself if this is something that will allow you and or your family to show love to each other or those outside your family. If it is just something fun to do and will take up valuable time, it might be something you need to pass on... for now.

Joy: Will I or my family be able to experience and share true joy through this activity or commitment?

Peace: Will I be able to keep the peace of our home if I add this? Our home is to be a place of rest and refuge for every person that lives there. If I am adding chaos or clutter that I can't keep up with, it isn't worth it.

Patience: I know I have this in limited supply so I need to ask myself - is my schedule set in such a way as to help me tend my patience, or will it send me off on an emotional explosion by the end of the day, week or month?

Kindness: Will this activity allow either me or my family to show kindness to others? 

Goodness: Will I be honoring God intentionally with this activity?

Faithfulness: Will adding something else to my schedule keep me from being faithful to God in honoring my quiet time, Bible study and prayer?

Gentleness: Will I and/or my family be able to do this activity with gentleness or will we fill rushed and have the possibility of hurting ourselves or others through thoughts, words or deeds?

Self-control: After looking at the situation thoroughly, make a decision based on wisdom and discernment. Do I say yes, no or later? Then do it and stick to my decision.

It's a long, hard list to consider. We tend to seek and desire the best, the newest, the brightest, the most. Because of this mentality, we have taken good things and placed them in a position of power in our lives. 

~ We work longer to acquire things and are tired and worn out all the time because of it.

~ Once we get those things we give them too much of our time and attention.

~ We serve more to prove our heart, even though it just doesn't work that way with God.

~ We have more activities to keep us entertained and yet we become disconnected and lose focus on the important things in the process. 

We are tired, stressed and stretched to our limit. 

I have spent the last week looking at and considering my and my family's pace and focus. Can I encourage you to do the same? 

God did not intend our lives to be too fast, too full and too stressed. He has given us the tools and ability to make an informed, intentional decision regarding everything in our lives. I have determined to take back my schedule and my family's schedule. 

Will you join me?