Is your definition of balanced living in line with God's?
There are many definitions of what a balanced life is today. Some view balance from a holistic approach, such as: health + happiness + prosperity = balance; or a syncing up of the mind, body, and soul. Some believe you can achieve balance by simply having a positive outlook, focusing on good habits, and lowering stress. And you’ve probably heard the balance buzzwords, like the need to practice yoga. Breathe. Meditate. Be intentional. Promote feelings of well being. Work-life balance, and so on. While many of these things are good, they address the various parts of life, but not necessarily the whole. They exclude finding balance despite your circumstances.
For the Christian, life is more than just about happiness and feelings of well-being and emotional contentment. We seek balance with our Creator and our place in the world. Sure, perhaps some feelings of balance can be achieved by including some of the other things in your life, but balance goes beyond just being happy or having everything all lined up perfectly. It's more than just a feeling. I mean what if your health isn’t good? Can you still be in balance? What if your circumstances are out of control and you are powerless to fix them? Is balance impossible then? And prosperity? That may seem like a pipe dream, but can you still have a balanced life? The answer is a resounding YES.
Just take a look at the apostle Paul and his life, and you will see a life that, while rocky and full of hard circumstances, still was lived in balance. In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul said this about his life:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
How was it possible for Paul to experience joy and contentment in life even under extreme circumstances? He was right in the center of God’s will for his life.
You might say that to the Christian, a balanced life is a “knowing” within yourself that you are at the center of God’s will for your life. We all know, even vaguely, when we aren't really doing what we're supposed to be doing. We intuitively know when selfishness is at play, when we are pushing for our own way. We can see it clearly in others, but it's harder to identify it in ourselves. Deceit and rebellion are subtle, often disguising themselves as thoughts like "I deserve this," or "It'll work out somehow," or "They'll be ok without me home." (Jer. 17:9) When you are at the center of God's will, however, this is place where you know you are where you're supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing -- in your generation or life stage -- in your place -- using your gifts, talents, and resources -- for those people God places in your life.
This is the place of peace, of joy, of contentment, and yes, balance. Expect that there will be forces at work to get you to quit, or convince you that what you're doing isn't valuable. But don't listen. Listen only to God's voice of peace and truth.
Look at just some of the qualities of those who live in the center of God’s will:
Joyful and able to rejoice during good times and bad.
Content with situation in life, at least most of the time.
Hopeful for the future.
Able to laugh and see good things in life, even with crazy turns of events.
Able to take a bigger, God-sized perspective on hard things that happen in life.
Secure and on solid ground about who God made them to be and why they matter to God.
They don’t allow their emotional impulses to dictate the moves they make or to set priorities for their day or direction in life. They don’t trust in their feelings or what their heart tells them to do, but rather they seek God’s will in prayer, study of His Word, and wise counsel from others.
Focused on their purpose in life at the stage they are currently in, which allows them to say “no” to things outside of that purpose and boldly say “yes” to things that fit.
People and relationships matter more than tasks and the “to-do” list.
Stable minded and able to make decisions thoughtfully and carefully.
Able to recognize when they are imbalanced and seek correction.
Able to recognize and accept times when they need rest.
So how do we get to this place? I’ll cover that next time, I promise. But for now, spend a little time reflecting on the areas where you feel the most out of balance - that is, out of the center of God’s will. Is it your finances? Is it your health? Is it your friendships or marriage? What about your job or the neighborhood you live in? What does God want from you in these areas? Ask God to show you in His word and through others the things you can do to move toward balance.
Until next time,
P.S. I would love to hear from you about some of the ways you are dealing with imbalance or misaligned priorities. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, a great life is only as great as its relationships!
P.S.S. Check out previous Life Is Relationships issues. Click here to visit our blog.
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