There is something mind numbingly tedious about the word ‘balance’. It is often hoisted up as the pinnacle of all correctness which absolutely must be achieved if we are to enjoy a peaceful and harmonious existence. My problem with this is that I don’t want to just exist…I want to LIVE!! I find that ‘balance’ kills creativity, stifles life and induces apathy.
A far more helpful word than ‘balance’ is ‘rhythm’. This is all about creating seasons of work and rest. Sometimes, life goes at 100 miles per hour. There are deadlines to meet, expectations to fulfil, responsibilities to honour, meetings to attend and about a million other things to do. Frankly, the last thing you can do in the midst of all this is to suddenly stop and then force your way into the middle ground of stillness. That’s just not how life works. Sure, the theory of this is great – but the practicality isn’t. The unrealness of it actually adds unnecessary stress and ends up doing more harm than good.
However, thinking in terms of ‘rhythm’ is altogether better. It takes away the guilt you might feel when you’re in a season of busyness, whilst at the same time helping keep you disciplined and intentional about creating space for rest and play in your life. That latter is incredibly important, and is something that needs to be part of the beat in our seasonal rhythms.
Have you ever seen one of those big old grandfather clocks? The pendulum swings from one side to the other, maintaining momentum and keeping perfect timing. If the pendulum is balanced in the middle, it may give off the impression of quiet serenity….but that’s simply because the clock is not working! It’s utterly useless without movement. That’s exactly why it’s far better to create rhythms in our lives where the pendulum swings back and forth from relentlessness to rest, from pressure to peace, from chaos to calmness, from busyness to breathing space. Wise people work hard to create healthy rhythms that ease into one another. This is far more helpful than the monotony of ‘balance’.
Here are some really great words from Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 (the message translation). “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”