Balance and The Guilt Factor
So much of what we perceive as “imbalance” is just guilt.
Guilt because we know we should be exercising, except we’re working all day.
Guilt because we know we should be playing doll-house with our preschooler, except we’ve got to clean the bathroom.
Guilt because we know we should be cooking at home, except the kids’ activities mean we’re in the car all evening.
Guilt because we know we need a date with our spouse, except money is tight because we ate out all week.
When we’re working, we feel guilty that we don’t stay home with the kids.
When we’re home with the kids, we feel guilty that we don’t contribute financially to the household.
When we’re cleaning, we feel guilty we’re not resting.
When we’re resting, we feel guilty we’re not organizing.
When we’re organizing, we feel guilty we’re not playing with the kids.
When we’re playing with the kids, we feel guilty we’re ignoring the laundry pile.
When we’re attacking the laundry pile, we feel guilty we aren’t addressing our spiritual lives.
And when we finally sit down to address our spiritual lives, our entire
to-do list life comes flooding into our brains—and with it, overwhelming waves of guilt that we have so much to do, but we are always doing something else. We’re always doing something wrong.
Guilty feelings lead to an illusion of imbalance. You may not be as imbalanced as you think you are—it’s just that you can’t see the balance through the guilt.
What if, instead of nursing guilt feelings for everything you are not doing, you rested securely in what you are doing and focused on that? What if you knew—really knew—what you were supposed to be doing right now, today, this week?
I can think of a few seasons of my life where I felt no guilt whatsoever for what I was doing/not doing, and thus, felt extremely well-balanced:
After the birth of every one of my babies.
Before and after relocations.
After the death of my son.
When my children have been sick. (Like puking, feverish-sick. I’m still not sure what I should be doing when they are sorta sick. Is it okay to still pick up the house and make some phone calls? I don’t know.)
During pre-planned family vacations.
The year we scraped every penny to fund my daughter’s adoption.
I look back over that list and have to chuckle. I can “feel” balanced while I’m surrounded by boxes in a new city or sitting in my sweats holding a feverish toddler, but I sometimes struggle with balance on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon.
The circumstances of our lives don’t dictate balance. Resolving to focus on our priorities does. Distraction and balance are enemies.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts….Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.
Proverbs 4:23-27 (The Message)
Distraction parades before us a thousand things we could be doing and tells us we SHOULD be doing them. And then it screams, “Shame on you! Why are you doing THAT when you should be doing THIS? And THIS? And what about THIS?”
Guilt-inducing distraction is especially powerful on ordinary days. The days when priorities are not as clear. When exercise, rest, cooking from scratch, eating out, tending to the children, tending to our home, me-time, God-time, friend-time, work-time, volunteer-time, computer-time and face-time all seem equally important.
But there is a way to dispel distraction and guilt.
It’s called Wisdom.
“Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live! Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious. She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty. Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life….Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake…The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces…. Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.”
(portions omitted for brevity)
Have you consulted Wisdom? Not just for the big things that show up every couple years, but for the hundred little things that show up every morning? Have you asked Wisdom what’s priority today? The answer you receive could be the key to your balance.
Q4U: How do you find Wisdom? How do you know when your priorities are in order? Let’s chat about this!
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I think you find wisdom by spending time with Jesus, spending time with wise people, reading good works, and through trial and error. In order to set good priorities I think we have to have an overall blueprint to go by. We have got to have in our mind how do I want to live my life and then we match up our priorities against that. When we are setting our priorities we need to check them against our blueprint to help know they are where we should be investing our time.
Great input, Mark I think a lot of people forget wisdom involves a lot of trial and error!
Great thoughts! I’ve been praying a lot lately for more wisdom and discernment. It seems like there is so much “white noise” it’s sometimes hard to listen for.
Funny, I have the same questions about the “sick kid” thing. When they’re completely happy lying on the couch watching TV, I think “Do I really need to take in another episode of Dinosaur Train or could I duck out for a few??” 😉
So much noise–I agree. It’s a very deliberate, intentional pursuit, for sure!!
Loved this today, perfect timing my friend…perfect timing!
Thanks, Racheal! Love you!
So very timely for me! I wake up feeling guilty some days because of everything I didn’t get done the day before or the knowledge that I probably won’t get those same things done today because of the other things that need done. UGH. I was just reading in Proverbs about wisdom a few days ago. I hadn’t thought about applying it to this idea of guilt, but it works perfectly! Thank you for encouraging words from you and from the Lord.
Beautiful! Thanks for the encouragement and sharing the wisdom God has imparted to you!
What a wonderful post! I struggle with this quite a bit as well, even as a single woman.
I’ve really been enjoying poking around your blog, even though I should probably be doing something else. 😉