As a dad I spend a fair bit of my time at parks with my two children. One of their favourites, mainly my boy Matthews choice, is a see-saw. You don’t get many see-saws in parks nowadays but when we come across one…. it’s a winner! When I sit on one end and my Son sits on the other end we are trying to balance the weight so we both enjoy the moment of being 30cm off the ground! However, to get someone exactly the same weight to balance you out is tricky and my Son certainly is not my weight. In fact, he likes to go between being the one raised high in the air and then wants to try and give me that chance to go high.
Balancing life can be a bit like balancing the see-saw. You want to get the enjoyment of both you and your ‘demand’ nicely balanced, but demands often weigh more and so you in the air but your trying and desiring to also be the one in control and push the ‘demand’ in the air.
I’ve not got this right, and I’m still developing ways, systems, processes, to help me “strike the right balance” and not be outweighed by demands on my time. Let’s be honest, life has demands and these should not be viewed as an evil tyrant, they only become that when we allow them to manage us, to direct our energies to solely serve their purposes, and so if not wisely managed they are incredibly selfish jigsaw pieces always fighting for your attention and making you believe they are the most important thing to you right now.
I’ve put in place some principles, after experiencing the issues you can encounter when you don’t have these things in place, that have helped me and my family…so here is a little saying I use, passed to me from a wise Church Leader.
Do 1 thing every day that diverts you away from your ‘normal’ routine. One thing that will bring a spark of something different, something that will energise you and help you to switch off a little from your routine work. If we are working people, we often neglect a coffee break mid-morning and even worse miss lunch, or work while we eat. We don’t take time away from the work demands in front of us and look after our bodies, minds, souls. If your a student, a stay at home parent then make sure you apply the same principles (not always easy with little children) but if you do, you will help yourself and also set in place a long-term healthy principle for your kids!
Take a Sabbath Rest! One day a week that is your day off, no work agenda, no interruptions, no demands from others, no to-do lists…. just rest. I’ve been glad to see the Sabbath coming back into contemporary theological practice, a practice which God himself instigated before any Adamic, Mosaic, Davidic covenant. It was a principle laid down during creation for creation. In Mark 2:27 Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
I try to keep an open day for my day off, things happen and sometimes need to take place…but actually not having an agenda (hard for someone like me who is wired to be structured!) is incredibly refreshing…not easy at first and I am still working on it, but a practice, I believe, will help us be functional to what God desires for the other 6 days a week. So, withdraw from your work weekly and take your Sabbath Rest!
Finally, Adjourn Annually…Adjourn is a word we don’t often use in our day-day chat, it simply means “to have a pause or rest during a formal meeting or trial”. Often used in legal courts to help break up the intensity of the court hearing.
Step back, and pull that picture of the courtroom hearing wider and look at it as an illustration of life with a long-term perspective. Like the court room hearing…Our lives can be intense and full of action, full of decisions to make, full of life changing decisions, full of weight. So, Adjourn that intensity every year for holiday time. Rest & Recuperation happens on the day-day, the weekly Sabbath, but also the annual holiday. Our society has built a ‘work every hour’ mentality in many of its structures and so to counteract that, and to show another way as Kingdom of God People we should, I would go as far to say we MUST take annual holidays and one of them being an uninterrupted 2-week break. 1 week to switch off from the intensity you’ve been living in and the 2nd week to enjoy and refresh yourself. Time with the family, with friends enjoying creation, enjoying no interruptions from those demanding routines that fight for priority. Do some fun things that push you that you wouldn’t normally do, sleep and rest…adjourn annually.
So, there are my 3 principles for trying to balance the see-saw of life so you can enjoy your work, which is God given and we should work hard at it, but we should absolutely look after ourselves, in mind, body, soul and spirit.
You and I are not Human Doings, but Human Beings! Stop and challenge the Crazy Busy culture.
Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly and Adjourn Annually….and please don’t feel guilty about it!