Balance? What is that?

I took this shot recently at a soccer game at the kids' school. I love how the wind moves through the tall grasses. I won't be loving it when it's 0 degrees with negative wind chill.

Saturdays are out-of-rhythm days. My schedule is off and there is no down time. I haven’t yet figured out how not to do school work on the weekends (will I ever?) and I spend my days either getting the house back together (and regretting that because, really, I have SO much homework) or vice versa. And no matter what I do, I feel guilty because good moms have balance and orchestrate things so they can spend entire weekends with their children, right?

What DOES the word “balance” mean anyway? I have no idea.

Today Joe Kulezsa, a fellow WA teacher, asked me what I was doing inside on this beautiful fall afternoon. “Working harder than my students,” I told him.

He laughed. “Steve (principal) gave all the faculty a book about that a couple years ago. How not to work harder than your students or something like that. Guess you need a copy, huh!”

I think it’s going to take more than a book.

Dave is teaching health class this fall. His latest unit is on stress and the human body.

Turns out it’s a killer. Literally. A really stressful couple of months can shorten a life span by years (though as I write that, I wonder, how on earth do they know that for sure?)

Dave added up our stress levels (moving, change in living arrangement and jobs, having someone outside your immediate family living with you, young children, little sleep, too much work) and discovered we’re off the charts. (Though not, thank You, Lord, dealing with a child’s sickness or death or marital issues.)

I asked Dave, “Do stress and lack of sleep affect short-term memory? Because mine’s shot right now.”

Friday at school I looked in my purse for my iPad (it’s really the school’s iPad) and PANICKED when it wasn’t there. “I don’t remember doing anything with it since last night,” I told Dave then. I was fearful that someone had slipped it out of my purse at my community college writing class the night before.

I rushed home after teaching and ran through the house, looking in all the usual spots. Not at my desk, not next to my side of the bed, not in the basket where I charge it, not in the bathroom (I often listen to podcasts while I’m getting ready in the morning.)

“Oh, Lord, where is this thing? I cannot tell Josh Burick (the tech guy at work) that I’ve lost it! I just can’t.” I put my head in my hands and leaned on the center island in the kitchen. My stomach felt sick.

I looked up.

Straight ahead, on the counter between the kitchen and the main room, was the iPad. My legs trembled with relief. I texted Dave:
“Found it. So, so thankful!”

Here’s the scary thing, though: Even after finding it, I didn’t remember putting it there, and I can’t blame this on one of the children. I KNOW it was my doing because before I went upstairs to wake the younger kids that very morning, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should play some praise music like I did yesterday to wake them up.”

The next thing I remember is thinking, “Nah, I’ll just head on up.”

But my iPad was sitting in the exact spot where I would have put it if I had gotten it and then decided on my way up the stairs not to use it.

But I don’t remember getting it out of my purse, I don’t remember moving it.

It would be one thing if this were an isolated case. After all, for years I’ve been walking into rooms and forgetting why I went into them. But this feels a little different, more like the time I was in middle school, completely stressed out about my family and friends and life in general, and I had a long stretch of time when I managed to forget something nearly every day.

Two weeks ago I lost my phone—just after I’d bought a bright purple cover for it so—you guessed it—I wouldn’t lose it! It still hasn’t turned up.

I haven’t yet forgotten to pick up one of the kids yet or gone to school in my slippers, but some days it feels like it’s just a matter of time before I do. “Really, Lord?” I find myself asking, “Is this what you want for me?”

And, you know, I think it just might be. Today I listened to a podcast by John Piper and he said this (I’m paraphrasing): Do not measure God’s love for you through your own health, prosperity, or comfort. If God’s love were measured in those ways, He would have hated the apostle Paul. Measure God’s love for you by how much of Himself He is revealing to you.

That made me stop and think! And I realized that though I am tired and stressed—and well outside of my comfort zone—I am learning new things about God every day. I HAVE to; I realize daily that I cannot accomplish the tasks set before me, and when I take them to Jesus, He changes my perspective; He helps me to SEE; He provides rest for my SOUL even when my schedule is ridiculous.

And all of that reveals more of who He is. I know Him more and more, not as a God who wants me to be comfortable (though I sure wish that were His purpose sometimes) but as a God who wants me to trust Him ALL the time, as a God who is always worthy of trust.

I’m stubborn enough that when things are going well, I tend to trust myself, not Him. “I got this, God. Take a break until things get tough.”

So tough it is. Because only then do I take Him up on His offer (“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden”) and realize that what He says (“Without Me, you can’t do anything! So ABIDE”) is truly true.

So maybe He doesn’t want “balance” (whatever that means) for me. Maybe He wants me to be “poured out” (for the right things, not my to-do list). Maybe that means I will always feel like I’m stretched a little too thin, like I’m skating past the edge of my ability. Maybe “balance” is a false dream, something I settle for or strive for when I should be aiming for abundance and fullness, even if those feel like too much sometimes.

Maybe “balance” is not really that good after all.

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