If your lives are anything like mine, they’re busy.
And mine is too busy, if I’m honest. And if I’m being honest, I’m really too busy with things that don’t matter. Right now, I’m going through the struggle of “balancing my life”. Which, in my most recent practice, has amounted to “finding the best way to do what I need to do and what I want to do, while sacrificing my happiness as little as possible.”
And let me be the first to say, that’s a pretty loaded concept when you start digging into it.
Because the reality is that:
1) I really should enjoy doing the things I need to do. None of them have to be burdens.
2) And as a Christian, I should find be finding my supreme joy in God anyway – which surpasses and overcomes every task or circumstance I could encounter.
I think that this concept of “balance” I’ve had should be overtaken by this idea of “holistic living” (which I’ll explain more about further down). Because when my mindset is all about “balancing”, getting in some of what I need to do, making sure I do a few things that I want to do… the main thing I’m concerned about becomes what I’m not getting to do.
I’m playing video games too much, so I’m not getting my work done. I have to do work, so where will I put my leisure time? If something comes up that I don’t expect, then I won’t get what I planned done.
Prioritization isn’t my problem.
My desires are. Often I’ll say (consciously or not) “if I don’t have ‘X’, then I won’t be happy,” or “if I can just get ‘X’ done, I’ll be happy.”
When I – when we – make our happiness conditionally based on things that may or may not happen, we will run ourselves ragged in attempt to get everything we want, and then we will be disappointed.
In practice, that looks like me working for 2 hours in a day, reading a textbook for a few minutes, and then playing video games for six hours, only to be disappointed that I got what I “wanted” and not what I “needed”.
Or it looks like me working 12 hours in a day and then being miserable that I didn’t have any downtime.
Or it looks like neglecting time with my wife to either “work” or “do what I want.” And in those situations, we both lose.
So if this is the wrong way of balancing my life, what is the right way? And what is the “holistic living” thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post?
“Holistic living” is, for me, as a Christian, living every moment with the purpose of glorifying God.
Just writing that causes me some pain for me. Because I know what that means.
“You won’t get everything you want. You’re going to lose things with that mindset. You might not get much gaming done. You might not be as productive as you ‘need’ to be. You might lose time to things ‘less important’.”
That’s what comes to mind when I face that idea. Living a purpose that is not my own, that envelops every aspect, action, and decision of my life – of my time.
“You won’t get everything you want.”
That’s a true statement, taken at this very moment. And it’s a lie, at the exact same time.
The fact is, when I look at my busy life, it’s pretty miserable. I am turned and tossed about by every desire of mine. There is no contentment – just an attempt to take hold of everything I can.
In fact, it’s terrible!
I’m getting everything and nothing and stretching myself thin to do it.
And the great lie is that I can be happy doing that.
What I need is a change in desire.
How does desire change? How do I plan on going about this holistic, purposed life I’m talking about?
Well, there’s a curious thing about being a Christian. When you know God, and as you grow to know him more, your desires actually change.
You don’t grit your teeth, hold your breath, and will your way into a heart change. You are changed by God. I’ve been experiencing that sort of thing happening in numerous areas of my life for almost 7 years now.
So my goal going forward is to “unbalance” my life.
My goal is to be led by Christ. To let Him completely and totally rule every aspect of my life.
To use my time how He wants me to, and to take joy in Him. To seek to know Him more, for the sake of my happiness and His glory.
To set aside the dreadful fear of not getting what I want and trust that my desires will change (because they will). To trust that things will be better this way (because they will).
And as my desires change, I’ll find myself having everything that I want and need. Not because I’ll have everything that I think I want and need now, but because my perceptions of what I want and need will have changed.
There is legitimate freedom there.
And it’s not a far-fetched thought, for those of you thinking, “this guy is NUTS.”
I’ve experienced it before. It’s just been a while.
There’s a parable Jesus talks about that applies to me well (which you can read here if you like.)
And right now, as I write this, I’m looking forward to experiencing that kind of life again.