Cathy Madavan shares the things that can make our lives more fruitful and fulfilling
Unicorns, mermaids and perfectly fitting jeans… some mythical and marvellous concepts that seem too incredible to be real. And I’d like to add ‘life balance’ to that list. Sure, we get the idea. We need to keep all the plates spinning, but we are also human beings and not just human doings, who need rest, relationships and rich experiences to manage the stress and strain of life. So, in my desperate attempt to remind myself that although I may never find perfectly fitting jeans, my life still needs balance, here are five thoughts for us all to at least consider.
1. Ebb and flow is normal
Standard life doesn’t really exist, does it? I mean, there might be a rare moment where all the plates are merrily spinning, where we feel appreciated, have capacity to help others and can go out for an evening without feeling totally exhausted. Nice. Enjoy it while it lasts if that is your current experience. But more usually, we are constantly rebalancing in the ebb and flow of life’s opportunities and challenges. We experience crazy seasons and other times where we breathe more easily. Let’s not feel guilty about that. Somehow, we must go with the flow, while trying to be wise at the same time.
2. Stay flexible
I’m not talking about taking up Pilates here, although I know exercise is good for you. Change is here to stay, and the more we learn to adapt and embrace new ideas, the more chance we have of not getting stuck in a rut. Living a balanced life means being fully present in the season you are in, which also means letting some things go so you can take hold of the new. If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it is to hold onto plans lightly so that we can stay mentally supple, adapting and making the best of constant change.
3. Weigh what’s on your plate
You probably have a busy life with a lot going on. I empathise. But here’s the thing: your plate is your plate. Your friend’s plate might have more or less on it; they might have more capacity than you or far less. Instead of comparing, the question is, are you OK with how much you have on your plate and are you able to take stuff off it as well as add to it? Sometimes we have to weigh our priorities – even Jesus had to discern what was the Father’s business for him each day and we need to do the same. Why not pray about what’s on your plate today?
4. Shoot the ’should’s
Ah, guilt. My old adversary. I might not want to do something I’m asked to do; I might not have time for it; heck, it might be the last thing I need right now. But then I hear that little internal whisper that says: “But perhaps you should. They need you. What will people think if you say no?” Friends, it’s fine to have a conscience, and we do need to check our ‘selfish gene’, but ‘should’ is not a kind master. Ask the Holy Spirit what is a guilt motivation and what is a divine prompt. Instead of should, consider what would be a blessing – and the right thing for you and others at this time.
5. Choose consistency over intensity
I am a girl who needs a deadline, and sometimes a sprint finish is called for. But (note to self), manic activity isn’t generally a long-term strategy, is it? Whether it’s our health, our faith, a project or a relationship, consistency beats intensity every time. Good habits, regular check-ups and long-term sustainable practises help us to stay the course and thrive. It’s worth reviewing what your regular rhythms actually are and asking yourself: are they helping or hindering? A perfectly balanced life might not be possible, but a fruitful and fulfilling life can be - if we consistently stay connected to who we are and what God is saying to us.