I've been going to a hot yoga class for the last month. Before I started, it sounded like an activity reserved for yuppies, hippies, and celebrities, but I had a Groupon. And now I like it.
I'm good at the flexibility poses. In general, I'm a lot like Gumby, so it's nice for this otherwise fitness-challenged individual to feel successful for at least a portion of such a tough class. But when it comes to the balance poses, I'm a wreck. I spend half of my "tree pose" jumping around my sweaty yoga mat, attempting to keep my balance while those surrounding me turn to stone.
I know I'm new to the class, but every time a challenging pose comes up I stand there, dripping in my own sweat, thinking, I'll never do it. I'll never find my balance.
Fortunately, in the last few classes I've attended, I've noticed a few of my classmates—the women with perfect abs and personalized yoga mats—take a tumble or two as well.
Perfect balance is impossible. Even the most seasoned experts fall over sometimes.
I know I'm not alone. How many times has a close friend said to you, "I'm feeling good about ______ in my life, but I just really need to spend more time _____. I just can't seem to balance it all." We seek the idea of balance—we long for it. But do we know what it even means?
I don't think so.
I think we multitask, spend time on Pinterest pinning cute ways to organize things, feel guilty when we haven't talked to our best friend in a week, and wonder if God is angry with us for skipping church and missing quiet time last month. We are constantly living in a place of "not good enough," and we have no idea what that "good enough" actually is.
And it seems that each day the world gives us one more task to balance.
The guilt of failing to follow a proper life formula often overwhelms me. I usually cope in the form of a nap, coffee, a thousand apologies to everyone around me, and some harsh words to myself. But lately, I've started to think that maybe the concept of a balanced life is actually a soul-destroying myth designed to make us feel like we're always missing a piece of the puzzle.
What a graceless way to live with ourselves.
Yes, it's important to have your priorities straight. God has to come first. You need to call your mother. Your children need face time. And if you don't do laundry, you will have nothing to wear.
But that doesn't mean that you need to beat yourself up when you don't have quiet time with Jesus in the morning, when you can't manage to craft a perfect memory book for your best friend's birthday, or you haven't gone to the gym in so long, you swear you hear your running shoes sigh when you walk by them.
How dare we think that God can't keep up with us when we're feeling overwhelmed—I am certain that our heavenly father can both walk and run with us throughout our days.
God uses these seasons of our lives to teach us specific facets of his character—facets we might have missed if our lives were as balanced and scheduled as we want them to be.
And this knowledge changes everything.
When we enter our days realizing they're each a part of a season handed to us by God, we give ourselves room to face the tasks at hand with celebration, instead of anxiously wondering which shoe we've dropped. There is a time and a season for all things.
For some of you, that might mean this is a season where you don't leave your house for days because you're at home with little kids, and the thought of bundling them up in snow gear and carting them to the library for story time makes you want to cry your eyes out.
For others, it might mean working late and giving your all to a job that you don't even like. There are seasons for feeling overwhelmingly blessed by friendships, and there are seasons for loneliness. And in all of these seasons, God is walking beside us. He sets out our days, and asks us to live them for his glory. End of story.
I'm trying to pay closer attention to the seasons that I'm in right now, praying through them and reflecting on the goodness of God as I do.
I am in a season of busyness, transition, and putting in extra hours at work—and my prayer is that I'll be able to face the tasks at hand with grace and focus.
I am in a season of intense blessings in my friendships—and my prayer is that I'll remain acutely aware that this is a sweet, sweet time of living in a rich community of fellow believers. I won't take it for granted.
I am in a season that requires a lot of travel to see my family regularly, and my prayer is that I'll give myself the grace to know when to go, and when to stay.
And I am in a season of strengthened, renewed faith—my prayer is that I will hold onto these days for a coming dry season.
I've given up on balance because I think it's a fake concept. I've traded it in for an acceptance that I'm in several seasons right now, some challenging, some a blessing, and honestly, none very well managed in terms of time.
This has turned each day from a chart of tasks to a realization that my time on earth is a gift, and God is using every day to teach me more and more about him.
Ashley Moore is assistant editor for the Church Law and Tax Group at Christianity Today, and she is a regular contributor to the TCW blog. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashgmoore.