I’ve chased the mythical idea of a balanced life the way I’ve hunted for that last piece of gum in my baby bag. Yes, with that much persistence. And uh-huh, with that much success. Achieving a balanced life as a working homeschool mom is about as fantastical an idea as unicorns, pots of gold, extra money, and enough time.
Suppose I could balance my life the way I balance a scale. I’d start by stacking my husband on the right. From there my children would go on the left because their needs and his correspond. But what if my baby is teething or my husband gets sick—that knocks off the balance immediately. Now, add homeschooling. Does my blog go on the other side to balance that? Is my career less, more, or as important? Of course the family trumps work, but then what about that deadline or the publisher’s meeting or that extraordinary idea that I just need to flesh out? And where does housework fall or meal prep? Extended family? Friendships? Me? God?
Exactly. A balanced life is impossible. We all know there’s no block that’s marked “The Unexpected,” and that will surely tilt the scales unfavorably in one direction or another, if it doesn’t upset the whole applecart altogether. Today, I could barely keep my emotions on an even keel.
So, if I can’t find some type of symmetry in my life perhaps I should take up juggling. This way, I can keep all the balls aloft, and I can touch each one from time to time, even if it’s with a mere fingertip. But this means that God, my family, and my work merit only one focused second at a time. Hmm… I wonder, just how much worship can I do in that second? How many essays could I review? How many words can I type? How many pampers can get changed? Invariably some distraction is going to take my eyes off the prize, and one of those precious missiles I’m hurling through the air is going to hit the ground and bounce off into the distance. Will it be my Bible study, time spent with my children, dinner?
I often disguise my juggling-slash-balancing act as “multitasking.” It’s how I get to do everything at once while enjoying nothing. Instead of talking with my family as we drive to Sunday dinner with friends, I hammer out my latest blog entry on my laptop and ask the kids to keep the laughing down so I can concentrate. I’m sure you’ve been right there, idling at the red light beside me. But I know God didn’t say, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more efficiently.” He came that we’d have it “more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Just what does abundant life look like?
The Proverbs 31 woman knew about abundant living, and it didn’t involve high wires, juggling acts, or scales. Unlike a juggler, she didn’t take her hands off anything, and contort herself in impossible positions so she could catch every ball. She didn’t divide her life into tiny pieces that she could measure and compartmentalize, weighing what was the most effective use of her time. This wife, mother, businesswoman, craft queen, and housekeeper didn’t do just enough. She “[did] good and not evil, all the days of her life” and she “let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:12, 31)
Oh, that Proverbs 31 woman, causing trouble again!
This scripture doesn’t present some ethereal, impossible ideal to vex me. It shouldn’t encourage me to wash seven loads of laundry while I balance a wailing child on one hip and type out the latest bestseller with my toes—after I’ve started a new church ministry and taught the new pre-calculus lesson. I think the woman of Proverbs reflects a right spirit and a godly attitude, for after all, she would “rejoice in time to come,” not complain about all the work she had to do or crow about what she accomplished in the face of adversity (Proverbs 31: 25). She exhibits our God-given ability to enjoy our season of life, whether that season is an hour spent at the park or two years spent breastfeeding or being the Top Blogger of the Year. Those around her didn’t call her published. Or successful. Or effective. They called her “blessed.” (Proverbs 31:28)
Abundant life is not about “enough.” I’ve had enough, and it ain’t pretty. Abundant life is “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38) Abundant life is enjoying all that I must do—poopy diapers and public accolades—because He says that through His divine power He “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3, emphasis mine). Abundant life is belief in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for me.
This week, I have a deadline to meet…and fourteen kids to host at a weeklong drama camp, a meeting about launching a new web site, school to teach, and a cooking class to take with my hubby, along with the usual checklists, bucket lists, and grocery lists. I can’t drop any of those balls, so I’m just going to toss them to God, one by one, for even when I don’t have enough energy, help, or resources, well…He’s more than enough.