January 12, 2016

The Art of Balance

Hi! It's been really a long time for not writing on this blog. It's hard to pull out ourselves over doing things that we have been not doing for so long haha.. but here I am! Yeay! I'm writing again! :D 

Today I would like to discuss about balance. Yes, whether we realize it or not, balance is the key essentials of life. We have learned balance since we're a toddler. We learned how to balance our feet so that we are able to stand, walk, and then finally run. Losing out balance will make us stumble to the front of fall to the back. From this simple experience, we can define balance as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Balance can also be defined as a condition where things are in correct proportion. So the key word related to balance is always talking about proportion and allocation. 

As we growing up, maintaining balance in every aspect of our lives have grown to become much more challenging. There are a lot of factors that can easily make us losing our balance. Okay we might not struggling whether we can stand on our feet steadily as we were back then, but we might struggling to maintain balance between work, relationship, time, ministry, and so on. It is very easy to have a tendency to be consumed only in a few aspects in our lives. We can end up so drawn on our work and building up our career that we neglect our family and friends. We allocate too much time at work rather than on relationship. We may think after we gain this amount of money and afford that kind of lifestyle, we would have time then to spend with our family. "After  I achieve ..., then I will ..." "I am not such a multi-tasking person" on and on. These excuses are reasonable and seems common in our lives. There is nothing weird saying those statements. But the consequences of uneven allocation of focus in our lives are real. Have you ever discovered that after few years passed by from our Senior High School's graduation day, you end up being a completely stranger to your 'ex' best buddies? Or have you ever discovered that your eating habits eventually make you overweight? We cannot deny that balance is important. Then the next question will be: How can we maintain or regain our balance?

A ballerina is the one who practice maintaining their body's balance on her entire life. She learned to dance in her toes since little til the end. She practices over and over again to do more complex movement while remaining steady all the way. On her practice, there will be moment when she can run off balance too. But it's not about never falling off, but how to get back to the balance and learn not to fall off again. The same principle goes too in our lives. We can never be perfectly balance ALL the time. But we can wake up and learn to regain the balance we once had. That's why it is an art. It is a journey that we must embrace bravely. So, are you ready to regain your balance your balance? Here are the steps:

#1 Order your priorities

Patrick Lencioni once said, "If everything is important, then nothing is." Imagine you receive an invitation to an exclusive party. On the invitation, it is written your name as their VVIP guest. How would you feel? Perhaps we will be flattered because we are on the important guests' list. But imagine if all of the invited guests has their own VVIP's invitations as well and they are basically everyone! Would you still feel important? Surely not. If everybody is a VVIP, then no one is. If everything is important to you, then perhaps nothing is truly important. So, order your priorities! Priority means a thing that is regarded as MORE IMPORTANT than the other. In your daily life, which one is more important? You can name A vs B, C vs D, and so on. You will face many situations where you should choose. But as you keep practicing on making the right priorities, it will be more easily for the days to come. 

Our life starts to lose balance when we place our activities on the WRONG ORDER. For example: Pray vs Work. Do you pray first then do your work or do you work first and pray later when in need? In our natural eyes, somethings we may think that praying = doing nothing. But the truth is, as spoken by Oswald Chambers, prayer does not equip us for the greater works, prayer is the greater work. It is through prayer that we involve our supernatural God to work into our natural situations. 

"Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear and to be healed of their sickness. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." -Luke 5:15-16

Jesus did not wait until his busyness fade or when the crowds leave him alone to make time for him to pray. He withdrew from the crowd intentionally and left the busyness for a moment to pray. Jesus knew exactly that his praying time is more important that even a good thing called as ministry. If you are too busy to pray, then you are to busy! If you feel praying is important now, withdraw for a while and simply say a prayer. 

In regarding making decision for life-time partner, you can consider: Wealth vs Character, Look vs Spirituality, Life's goals vs Your Goals, and so on. Make a list of all the choices you have and you will be able to see clearly which one is truly more important than the others. Do accordingly to the order which you know deeply is right without any excuse.

#2 Value your time

"Time is the most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back in your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give to someone is your time." -Rick Warren

"So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do."-Ephesians 5:16-18 [NLT]

We won't master balance in any area of our lives before we master our time. Learn to value your time. Don't waste it for something that will not last long. On average, we spend most of our time at work. What do we do at our work? Don't just work to spend the day nor just to earn the money, but work wholeheartedly giving your best so that your working time, too, will be meaningful. If you really don't enjoy your job, please do change your line of work. Don't get stuck and waste another huge amount of time doing job that doesn't even make you excited. 

If you spend most of our time being lazy, then it's time for you to wake up! Lift up your body from your bed and start your day early. Be bold in starting new things that you long to do. Live in a such a way that you will not regret someday.

#3 Value your relationship

Any kind of relationship is like plants. It needs to be watered regularly with communication and quality time. We can be a stranger to our ex-best buddies if we don't maintain our communication with them. If we don't put attention to our relationship, we will start to grow apart from one another. Value the relationship with your parents, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend,and friends. Don't ever take your relationship for granted. Just because we even meet with them everyday, does not guarantee that we know him/her more.If we stop listening and communicating with them, the relationship will eventually die. 

God designed humans to live in community. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We need one another to grow to become a better person. Of course, being with another human sometimes make conflict unavoidable. But only through those inflictions, as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). We as humans are tend to be happy when we have people whom we enjoy to be with. We are never really very happy when we feel lonely. It is just not how we are wired. 

#4 Value your money
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -Matthew 6:21

Some people value their money so much that they keep it for themselves only. If they have to spend it, they spend it for their needs, their wants, and just for them. If we spend our money so much in branded stuffs, it is observable that our heart too is on those stuffs. If we spend our money on gadgets, our heart is for the gadgets. There is nothing wrong with buying things for ourselves. But again, we will start to lose balance in money when we overdo the concept of our money just for our own pleasure.

To balance our financial style, we simply can do the opposite. It is   TAKING vs GIVING. We receive our salary, but we also have portions to give generously to others. If we give money to someone, our heart too goes to that person. It means we value them, we do care for them. And instead we end up being poorer, we will end up being richer in heart and eventually in the real world. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

"The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped." - Proverbs 11:24-25 [MSG]

I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrase the proverbs. It emphasizes how true it is that those who give will eventually enlarge also many areas in their lives. 

We are never become the owner of our money even if we work hard to earn it. We are a steward of the money whom God has entrusted to us. If our employer gives us salary, that is from God. If our parents give us allowance, that is from God. There is no money that ever comes on our own and that means we are not supposed to spend it recklessly. Make a budget on how you will spend your money. Balance in financial style comes from knowing first what God wants you to do with it. Remember, we are just a steward and never be the owner of money itself.

I earnestly hope that we all can run together to bounce back from failure in many areas of our lives. If you have lost your balance, as I had too many times, let's bounce back and go back on track to live productively for God! Good luck!

Leticia Seviraneta