I have a really good circle of friends these days. Well, three really good circles of friends. I have the group I met years ago at MOPS. The girls with whom I’ve forged honest, authentic relationships. The girls whose children my children adore. My BYOG girls...bring your own glue gun because many-a-girls’-night begins and ends with a quick trip to Pinterest. The girls who have my back on any given day. I have the “park mommy” group, as I affectionately refer to them. The girls who like to par-tay (in a very responsible, “I-am-a-mom-afterall” sort of way, of course). The girls who make me laugh on a daily basis. The girls who “get” me when I show up at the park with tear-stained cheeks and a bottle of jiggle juice (because it’s the holidays after all and that warrants a midday celebration, right?). The girls who have my back on any given day. And I have my lifelong friend group, my sisters. The girls I don’t speak to nearly as much as my heart yearns for me to, but the ones I can call on a moment’s notice bawling hysterically in need of a non-judgmental ear and I know - NO, I am 100% certain - they would walk through fire to mend my wounded heart. The girls who have my back on any given day. Each of my groups is so very, very different on so many levels and yet, I could never choose one over the other, because at the end of the day, they all have my back.
It’s been said that life is a great balancing act. It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. It’s been said that most things are good...in moderation. I think I’ve proven each of these true at some point in my life, but currently, I’m focusing on the balancing act and so I’ve spent a great deal of time mulling over what it means to keep all the various parts of my life in balance and yep, once again, I’m falling miserably short. So before you go gettin’ all “She seriously needs an intervention” on me, hear me out. I am not self-loathing on this one. I’m not being too hard on myself...again! I simply want to explore what it truly means to find a healthy balance when it comes to all things mommy/wife/friend/Christian (insert any other role you currently fill here). Sooooooo...
I’ve taken those personality tests that identify your personality type, how you interact in a group situation and the role you fill in your circles. I am always the hub. I never aggressively lean one way or the other. I am a veritable rainbow on the personality test color wheel. I don’t love to organize, hence, I’m not a “blue.” I’m not great at the support and encouragement aspect, so apparently green is not my color. I’m definitely not a red. I can’t stand leading the charge. And yellow doesn’t suit me well either, because I am certainly not an eternal optimist, despite my best efforts. Yep, that’s me, right there in the center, trying to maintain the peace, keep the rhythm flowing smoothly, and ensuring everyone in the group is copacetic. Apparently I’m adaptable, flexible and coherent, depending on what the situation demands. I guess I’ve mastered that whole balancing act thing, right, so I’ll end this little diatribe now and chalk this one up to a little boredom and some insomnia, right? Hardly. You see, when I’m with the MOPS girls, I know that I can lay it all out there when it comes to my parenting skills (or lack thereof). When I’m with my park mommies, I know I can share just how deep my love for Zinfandel is and they share my enthusiasm. When I’m with my lifelong friends, I know I can vent for 2 hours straight and they’ll never tire of my human weaknesses and mommy struggles. I know that when my sarcasm rears it’s ugly head in some groups it will meet with disdain and in other groups it will meet with laughter. You see, when it comes to my circles of friends, I have struck a perfect balance. I take from each of them different things and they each serve different purposes at exactly the right time. The conversations are never one-sided and there is a consistent give AND take when it comes to our needs and the unique contributions we each add to the group. But when it comes to my children, I simply do not have a clue who I am supposed to be at any given moment. I am a bit confused and believe me, I am open to suggestions on this one. Wait, I suppose there’s a small chance I can figure this one out by the end of this blog, so please refrain from calling me with your words of wisdom just yet.
You see, as mommies, the guidance we are expected to provide and the values we are expected to impart to our children seem to contrast. We have been called to a higher purpose, to leave a legacy, and to impart life lessons that are a bit of a dichotomy. Balance does not seem to fit in. We are called to be fully present, but not hover (these fun mommies and daddies are called “helicopter parents”). We are to give our children roots, but wings as well. We are to set boundaries, but give them freedom to become who they are meant to be. We are to nurture in them self-confidence and self-awareness, but ensure they are others-centered in their approach to life. We are to give them a healthy dose of reality of the evil that exists in our world without instilling in them a spirit of fear that prevents them from living a joyful life. We are to teach them tolerance when it comes to the beliefs of others, but ensure they have an unwavering commitment and ability to stand their ground and firmly defend their own beliefs. Son of a motherless goat! Are you kidding me? If the middle ground escapes ME, how on God’s green Earth am I supposed to teach my littles how to strike a healthy work/life/family/friends/health/happiness balance???
The Bible has a little bit to say about this (she says with a mischievous, 4-year old smirk, when really she knows the Bible has a TON to say about this). What does it mean to be “in balance?” So let me lay the formula out for you like this: contentment = balance. And if I were to illustrate it for you in this common core world we are currently railing against, there would likely be a scale somewhere in there with a million little happy faces on each side.
What I’ve learned over the course of the last 56 minutes is this. We’re never truly going to master finding the balance in all areas of our lives. All we can do is make a conscious decision to be content with our present circumstances, keep our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our faith (uh, that would be God), and my hope is that the scales will somehow manage to even out in the long run. I think Paul was on the right track when he said in Philippians 4:11-13: “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 everything through him who gives me strength.” You see, Paul was at some point or another, on both ends of the spectrum trying to find a middle ground and the only firm foundation he ever stumbled across was the truth and purity of God’s word. And simply put, THAT was enough to steady his uncertain feet, still his restless heart, and ease his anxious mind.
At the end of the day, don’t we all really just want our children to be content? Maybe balance is a concept far too complex to settle our weary hearts. Maybe what we really need is rest, the deep, therapeutic rest that comes from contentment, from being okay with our present circumstances, from understanding that in God’s plan, the scales will never be balanced. Our sacrifices and offerings will never tip the scales in our favor. The price that was paid for our iniquities, the love that was poured forth to cover our shortcomings, the grace that was extended to secure our eternity cannot be matched. And one final note on balance. When it comes to finding contentment in the day-to-day and finding our footing, one thing that needs no balance is the love we have for our babies. We are to love them unabashedly, fervently, without excuse. Smother them with love and adoration. Be amazed by their presence in your life. They deserve no less.
Ooooh, and here’s another fun one because I failed math and apparently I’m making up for lost time, plus I’m finally learning how to find special characters in the Pages/Word application on my Macbook...
NOTHING ≥ God’s love