Years ago, I had a delightful life coach and mentor by the name of Dayle. She encouraged me to make a personal development plan for that season of my life. Being a planner by nature, I was excited to show her what I thought was a well-balanced plan. She took one look at it and said, “Gina, I’m exhausted just looking at this.”
“But I don’t know what I could cut out. All these things are important,” I insisted.
Dayle affirmed that yes, everything on my plan was important. But then, she suggested that maybe not all of them were equally important at this moment. In my desire to have balance in my life, I thought I needed to include some aspect of everything significant to me. It contained my responsibilities as a homeschool mom, my ministry tasks outside of the home, writing projects, ways to strengthen my marriage, books to read for personal growth, new spiritual disciplines to incorporate, and an exercise plan.
I was looking for balance in every day, but Dayle wisely suggested I might broaden my perspective on it. Instead, I could seek to find balance in seasons. In other words, in one season God might call me to focus on one aspect of my life, like my relationship with my husband. In the next season, he might turn my attention to using my gifts in writing and speaking, and so on.
To do that required a level of faith and contemplation I was not exercising. God brought to mind two verses from Scripture. The first was Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I was in the trap of believing everything has to happen right now. Dayle pulled me back to see the bigger picture of my life; to see the rhythm, ebb, and flow, of my life and growth. She reminded me there is a time for everything. I need faith that God knows what my calling is in each season.
But to find the right time for everything means regularly slowing down and asking. The other verse he showed me and continues to bring to mind in new seasons of life, is Jeremiah 6:16, which reads, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Inside our quest for balance, is a desire for a restful pace. This verse reminds me that I find it when I take the time in a new season to stop, look, and ask God for the best way. He never gives us more to do than is wise and healthy at any time.
So rather than make a long list of goals and to do’s when I tackle my personal plans, instead, I started to focus on themes. How does God seem to be leading me in this season? Is there a theme to the lessons and challenges he’s giving me? What should my focus be right now? Many people choose one word as a theme for an entire year; I find peace in doing it myself. One aspect of my life gets full attention, while others will have their time later.
I’m not looking for balance in every day or every week. I’m looking for balance over my lifetime. I rest in the truth that God knows my way. He brings new purpose in each season, and I listen and respond to what that focus should be. He knows the healthy pace for me.
Finding balance in seasons reminds me that God is not just the God of my moments; he is the God of my life journey. He sees the whole of my life, beyond my narrow focus on today. It reminds me that God is my faithful companion for the long haul, and I must trust his guidance on that journey. He is not anxious or impatient with my growth or demanding I do more than I am capable of doing.
Right now, I am in the process of deciding whether to pursue continuing education. I’m looking at a program that could start in January or July of next year. The ambitious part of me wants to jump right in, but this idea of balance reminds me to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Our son graduates from high school in the spring, and recently, I took on new responsibilities at work that I’m still climbing the learning curve on; wisdom tells me that I should tip the scales toward these activities first and trust there will be time for this other pursuit later.
God has taken me through seasons when I focused on rest, worship, my identity, and his character. I experienced seasons where I concentrated my energy on my family, and others when he called me to step out in faith outside my home. There have been times I felt I needed to dig deep into learning about something. Other times, God called me to do less and make soul care my aim. I find balance by listening and trusting him to guide me in each season. In the end, I know it all works out for what he wants for me.
Why is it that our default is always “do more = be more.”
I’m in the process of setting up my 2018 planner (yes, I know – the last dinosaur on the planet who still uses paper), and as I was penciling in some of the givens for the year, I was praying for wisdom to keep from overloading my days with too many good things. Your seasonal perspective is so helpful.