I usually get a lot of funny looks when I’m out. Maybe it is the four kids or maybe it is the fact that the oldest three are boys, but someone inevitably says, “Boy do you have your hands full!”
And I laugh (though sometimes I want to cry depending on how many times I have told said boys to stop hiding in the store racks… and if I have had to help them become unstuck from their hiding places in the store racks).
But I really don’t like the question, “How do you do it all?”
Because I can’t do it all and I don’t do it all. It feels completely disingenuous of me to try to appear otherwise. I have a bunch of things I’d love to get done like finishing the book I’ve been writing for the past year. It’s intimidating because I don’t have time to finish it. I’m not sure where the time will come from and to find it, it will require sacrifice in some way, shape or form. I can’t have it all.
That is why I think the whole thing “finding balance” is a myth. That’s right. A myth. A repackaged version of “having it all”.
So many people out there lately have told me how they are struggling to find this sort of work/life balance or looking for some happy medium when it comes to responsibilities and what we want. It applies to marriages: who is supposed to do what and balancing out each other’s needs. It applies in friendships, careers, finances, volunteering, and even in taking care of ourselves.
We think if we try hard enough we’ll find some balance and formula for our time that lets us have enough of everything that we want to make us satisfied.
But we can’t. There will never be enough hours in the day.
Maybe the price of chronic illness is too high to consider it having benefits, but I really think I’ve found a silver lining in my fibromyalgia. Everything I do has a cost: if I choose doing too much one day, I pay for it for a few more. It’s a physical reminder of the social and spiritual costs I pay in addition.
We all have to pay some sort of cost: life is a zero sum game since no matter what we do, we only have so much time. If we choose to spend ourselves doing one thing, it automatically pulls from somewhere else.
There is so much more to do than we could ever do. It’s frustrating especially if you are a dreamer like me.
We can’t carry the guilt of not being able to do it all. We’re human and we are actually sabotaging ourselves if we try to. Becoming consumed by the urgent means we fail to live in grace. That grace was expensive and I need reminders of this daily myself, especially as I’m trying to keep tabs on my three year old (and hoping that he is still wearing clothes).
As much as it sounds strange, I think I’ve actually come to a place where I am glad everything has a cost. If everything were free, I’d simply take everything and not appreciate it. The cost of serving makes us value the service rendered us. The cost of working, in any forum, makes us treasure the results.
This is why I abhor the work outside the home parent versus stay (or work) at home parent debate. It’s an argument about which is better, but it’s really just semantics. What we are judging is actually one another’s priorities.
When we are so focused on each other’s priorities, we lose sight of God’s priorities which should, in fact, be our priorities. It comes down simply to what has God called us to do and He hasn’t created a one size fits all job description for His followers. He’s created us to be different and do different jobs so, not so obviously since even Paul spells it out in the early church when he discusses the functions of the different parts of the body. Some of us are called to be feet, hands, ears…
Some of us are better are going, being leaders, listening ears, or teachers. It’s all about being the person God’s created us to be and using our gifts for Him.
We need to let go of the rest.
That is the joy of letting go of the world’s standards. We’re never going to be at peace until we intentionally count the cost and find it worth it. We don’t have to have it all. We don’t even want it all.
Pieces of it all don’t really count either.
I know I’ll never feel like I have enough time. I just need to quite beating myself up about it when I’m letting my priorities align with His.
It’s not really balance. It’s counting the cost and following Him, however that may be.