It was a red and yellow plastic Balance Scale that I first fell in love with. I’d lay on my stomach on the beige, berber classroom carpet so I could see the balance point as I cautiously placed primary colored blocks on one end and then the other, trying to maintain balance while changing the weights.
If that was the whole of math, I not only would have liked it- I would have passed.
Alas- all good things must come to an end, and it was as inevitable as the math and physics I was learning-that my state of balance always ended as well. Sometimes with a teachers reminder that I had other work to do- but usually with that “mean kid” slamming a fist onto one end of the scale and sending my carefully balanced blocks sailing across the classroom.
I hated that kid. I also hated having to pick up the blocks front he four corners of the universe of my open classroom. (I plotted ways to avenge my lost balance on the see-saw…..I was angsty like that.)
I brought my love of balance into adulthood. The red and yellow plastic balance scale has been replaced by a calendar and life stacked just as carefully to balance:
- A doctors appointment is balanced with some outside time.
- Helping at the school is balanced by a little “me” time in the form of a nail appointment.
- My love of all things girlie is balanced with a love of camping. (And s’mores.)
- Cooking and laundry is balanced with creative activities that last longer than a meal… (Ok so it’s knitting- I call it creative activities. Whatever.)
Even my hobbies are carefully stacked for balance. Non-fiction reads with fiction, knitting for self and for others…. the list of ways I try to balance my life goes on.
At least it did, until the mean kid fist of cancer hit the balanced scale of my life and turned it once again, into a catapult.
First, I tried to re-coop balance: (Hint: It didn’t work)
- Doctors appointments were balanced with trips to the bookstore. (In my mind- polar opposites. I’m weird.)
- Cancer reading balanced with bible reading. (And maybe some lame- zombie novel reading for distraction.)
- Non-profit work totters with family time…
- Husband up-keep teeters to balance with self management, kid management, household management, and root-management. (Cancer or not- a girls gotta have her roots done.)….
You can probably see where this is heading. The number of blocks I have to balance is overwhelming.
The truth is: I can’t do the math. I can’t get the scale to balance. It’s frustrating. Maddening. Annoying.
Whole days are eaten up by pac-man like doctors appointments and I get to their end wondering if I’ll ever get a break. Other days are over filled with laundry and catching up on-what are supposed to be-daily chores. (Both of which are oblivious of the fact that cancer has attacked my balance scale and insist on continuing to need to be done. The nerve!) Still other days are so filled with kid- stuff that I feel like I’m slacking in the supportive wife department. A water-color wash of guilt paints over my thoughts when I fall into bed and realize I didn’t pray for my husband or his cancer at all that day. And of course there are the days so filled with self-recovery that everything else falls behind.
In addition to feeling afraid, frustrated and struggling, I felt like a failure because I couldn’t get things to balance out. The blocks were flung to the edges of my universe and I could barely find them, let alone balance them.
It wasn’t the cancer that was making me nuts. It was my desire to maintain balance (Maybe a form of control?) that was doing it. Because: I can’t. This morning, I realized I shouldn’t.
So- I gave up balance for Lent. Kind of.
I feel better already. It’s no longer a careful game of placing one block at a time on each end of the scale. Now, it’s about piling up what needs to be done, when it needs to be and going with it, balanced or not on the calendar and trusting it will balance out in the end.
Somedays I need to focus on my husband. Somedays on my kids. Some, on myself and ministry.
It’s ok. Our balanced scale has been turned into a catapult. Maybe, I just need to learn to use that as a tool.
Just like in that classroom so long ago.
How balanced is your life?
Do you need to try to balance some things out, or have you been hit with a mean-kid fist that turns your balance into a catapult? A child’s special needs? A sickness? Your own or a loved-ones? A new work schedule? School? New baby? Sometimes the fist that knocks our scale out of balance isn’t mean, but it is demanding….
Do you need to re-establish some balance or learn to go with the catapult and use it as a new tool? For me? I think I’m trading my balance for a clock…...
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Dear lord- Balance is a good thing. But it’s not something I should serve. And when it makes me crazy- it’s counter-productive. Please help me to be smart and honor you with my time. Help me to focus on what needs to be focused on and give up my idea of balance so I can embrace the life of un-balance that is mine right now. Help me to trade the scale for a clock…I love you lord, even here. amen.