How can I adjust my schedule so as to bring about a healthier equalization between the time I spend at work and the time I devote to the rest of life's activities and demands? I've really tried to do this, but it seems that something suffers no matter what I do. Besides, I don't think I've ever met anyone who has been able to put it all together. What does a "balanced" life look like in your opinion? How can I have that kind of life?
Stop and think for a moment about what you just said: "I've never met anyone who has been able to put it all together." From our perspective, that's a pretty good indication that no one ever will. Genuine happiness and contentment don't come from achieving perfect "balance." They come from knowing how to make your expectations fit your circumstances.
Remember, the world we live in is far from ideal. Yes, God made it good in the beginning (Genesis 1:31). But that original goodness was tarnished when sin entered the picture. Man made a mess of things when he chose to go his own way (Genesis 3:1-19). From that point forward human life has been a hodgepodge of darkness and light, good and evil, pain and pleasure, the expected and the unexpected. To a certain extent, this mix is the only kind of "balance" we can hope to attain on planet earth.
Fortunately, that's not the final word on the subject. Jesus doesn't necessarily promise us perfect "balance." But He does offer us peace. His peace is the peace of knowing that He has our situation in hand. Come what may, His love for us will never change (see Habakkuk 3:17-19 and Philippians 4:7). "These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace," He told his disciples. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
This peace is one of the foundational principles of the kingdom of God. Christians have been transferred into that kingdom as joint-heirs with God's Son (Colossians 1:13). The Bible tells us that the kingdom is not just a future expectation. It's a present reality (Mark 1:15). This means that we can experience peace here and now. We may not experience it perfectly, but we can still know that it is real. Our God is the God of peace and not of confusion or disorder (I Corinthians 14:33). Because of this, we can know peace by disciplining ourselves to walk with Him. We can do this by entering into earnest prayer. It's a matter of learning to discern His voice and partnering with Him as we make our plans, confront our daily challenges, and establish our priorities for living.
The issue of priorities is especially important in this connection. Before doing anything else, you need to get a handle on what matters most to you. Once you've done this, you can rid yourself of the feeling that "something suffers" whenever you try to balance life's competing demands. As you identify your priorities, you'll eliminate non-essentials. In the process, you'll gain a sense of focus and purpose. The undefined guilt you're feeling is based on the expectations of society, church, family, friends, and "other people." Don't take that burden on yourself. Instead, train yourself to listen to the Holy Spirit. Concentrate on the few tasks He has assigned you. Remember that life in Christ isn't about being "Supermom," "Superdad," or "Super-Christian." It's a question of learning how to channel your time and energy into the fulfillment of your own unique calling.
If you think it might be helpful to discuss these ideas at greater length, call us. Our staff counselors would consider it a privilege to speak with you for a free over-the-phone consultation. They'll be happy to assist you in any way they can.
Finding a Balance Between Work and Home: Jim Daly addresses the challenge of finding balance between work and home.
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