Work life balance: it sounds like such a worthy goal doesn’t it? Like once we unlock the code for time management and balancing priorities, we’ll have everything we need to reduce stress, achieve a thriving personal life, and still get all our work done on time. But is work life balance really that important? And if so, how do we achieve it?
In today’s post, Ronne Rock explores the realities of trying to find a healthy balance between our work and home lives and offers three tips that will help you keep your cool no matter which way your scales are tipping at the moment.
When we think about the phrase, “work-life balance,” it’s traditionally divided into two tidy buckets.
The first bucket is filled with things related to career, ministry, volunteerism, and education.
And the life bucket? It’s packed with meal prep, laundry lists, school schedules, and if we’re fortunate, a bit of space in the mornings or at night for reading a devotional and whispering a time-crunched prayer.
But the reality is that our lives are far more complex than activities on a calendar. The two buckets are joined together by a single handle. We navigate celebration, loss, external pressure, internal angst, joy, and grief at the same time we navigate how to get our kids to eat their vegetables or how to keep the new pup from chewing the rug.
I would love to tell you that what you’ll find in these words is a foolproof step-by-step guide to neatly store work and life in their respective buckets.
But that would be disingenuous.
Tips and tricks may work for job interviews or baking bread, but they fall short when it comes to the way we live our lives.
Instead, I’ve got three things I believe the Lord wants us to gather as we carry those buckets. But first, there are a few things I want you to know:
1. I believe balance is overrated. God reveals Himself fully in the ups and downs. We learn to lean in, to share strength with others, to trust, to breathe.
2. There are seasons that are “all-in” moments where extra amounts of grace are extended, extra reserves of energy are discovered, and extra helpings of caffeine are welcomed.
3. I am a workaholic who comes from a long line of workaholics. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder two decades ago in the midst of one of the most successful chapters of my career. That drive still shows up from time to time, and we have serious discussions when it does.
Now, I believe that everything about us—the good days, the hard seasons, the accomplishments and disappointments, the feelings we feel, and the way we think—is purposeful and meaningful and has a place in our stories. What we gather helps us walk through the days and seasons with grace and mercy.
GATHER YOUR THOUGHTS
“We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, The Message Paraphrase).
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, NLT).
Our attitudes and actions are a reflection of what we’ve invited into our hearts and heads. Smashing warped philosophies in repentance and yielding every aspect of our lives to the Lord makes room for lament, for grief, and for change.
We make room to be made more like Christ, room to gather what is honorable and right and pure and lovely, room to gather what it means to love God and love others—to gather a vocabulary that speaks hope.
GATHER YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Perspective is a great word, isn’t it?
We want to be intentional, to have laser-targeted focus every single day. Our perspective, though, is so easily thwarted by what’s going on both around and within us.
Now, I could offer a list of tools to help with focus (things like managing our dependence on social platforms, using journals to help us not forget ideas and goals, and treating our calendar as a trusted assistant).
But there’s one powerful way to help us with perspective no matter what the days might bring.
Romans 12:2 is a great reminder of why perspective matters: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).
Quiet time isn’t really a revolutionary thought at all, I know.
But it’s often the first thing that’s pushed to the side when the days are full. I’ll admit, there are days you’ll find me praying in the shower listening to Scripture found in a worship song on Spotify, but I’ve learned that how we respond to what the days hold is directly impacted by how we tend to our souls before the day begins.
GATHER YOUR PEOPLE
I remembered the day I sat in the doctor’s office and heard the words, “You are not okay.”
I thought about my husband and son, about family and friends.
I thought about the staff that trusted me to lead them, about the people who trusted me to serve them.
And I thought about the Lord I claimed to trust with my days.
My own blind spots as I feverishly filled my work bucket caused everyone around me to carry the load of my life. I thought about my family’s heritage and the history I didn’t want to repeat. That day, I learned an important key to guarding the life (and lives) we’ve been given.
Gather your people.
Invite others into your life who will ask honest and vulnerable questions about all that you are gathering. Learn to ask permission rather than forgiveness of those who are closest to you during necessary seasons of ‘all-in’.
And practice the healing power of confession. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
My circle includes two members of my family and a few trusted friends. It also includes a couple of folks who know the type of work that I do and the things that can trip me up along the way, and who understand the unique pressure and isolation that can accompany things like working remotely and living far from those I love dearly.
A friend of mine has a similar circle that he has named his personal board of directors. He even has a group text and a private Facebook group where he shares prayer requests, confessions, and situations where wisdom is appreciated.
Together, we’ve walked through job changes, illnesses, parenting, and heartfelt transformation to become more grace-full in the way we approach our days, our family, and our community. I smile when I think about C.S. Lewis’ words, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
I think Lewis would agree that gathering your people is a wise thing indeed.
I’ll close with a quote from one of my favorite authors and teachers, Emily P. Freeman. Her words are an invitation as we gather our thoughts, perspective, and people and walk a road that rarely feels balanced.
“God does not ask us to carry burdens. He does not ask us to save the world. He does not ask us to come up with a plan. He simply asks us to come.”
Yes, friend. Our God is the God who invites us to gather. He indeed is our balance.
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