When my son was seven years old, he was trying to balance. One minute he was excitedly saying, “Look, Mom, I found the spot!” Moments later, mid-wobble, he said, “Oh, wait. I lost the spot.” Of course, it was the losing it I could relate to.
Somewhere in the zig-zag of daily life is the sweet spot where we teeter in balance between work and rest, fun and fulfilling, and social and silence. It seems sometimes like we live in a world of extremes. We have tiny houses and McMansions, hoarders and minimalists, fast food and the slow-food movement. There is polarization in almost every category of modern life. Perhaps it is our obsession with busyness where this extreme has become most evident. Busyness has become a badge that says my career is at a crescendo, my family is an extracurricular expert, and my personal life is a page-turner. But are we really living a Harlequin romance novel amidst kids and career, or are we huffing and puffing from here to there, texting our spouses our agendas and their assignments as we scurry our kids to their next activity?
The other day I was rushing my son to an orthodontist appointment when I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the car window I was squeezed between. To my dismay, I was only wearing one hoop earring. I looked like a rogue pirate without the talking parrot companion. Instead, I had a teenage boy who doesn’t speak as my counterpart. He only repeats “okay,” “I don’t know,” and “fine,” as a series of responses. “Polly wants a cracker” has become, “Mama’s going to go crackers if she doesn’t hear a complete sentence soon!” (But that’s another conversation for another bottle of wine, as a good of friend of mine likes to say.)
My hoop earring was big like the kind Olivia Newton-John wore in Grease after she transformed from sweet, innocent Sandra Dee in a hoop skirt to cigarette-smoking Sandy dancing in the fun house in all-black, skin-tight clothes. Of course, I didn’t look like either version of Sandy – just a half-accessorized middle-aged mom with a mute offspring. Yet there was something about seeing the image in that reflection that became a snapshot for the busyness in my own life. It was a moment of pause captured in the whirl of my day and it wasn’t pretty. With the asymmetrical accessorizing, it wasn’t balanced either.
False scales are an abomination to the LORD, but an honest weight, his delight. (Proverbs 11:1)
Walking the tightrope between doing it all and having it all has become an all-out quest in secular living. Sometimes it’s because of circumstances outside of our control, but mostly, it’s the hamster wheel, treadmill, or tilt-a-whirl we have chosen to fill our lives as an affirmation of self-worth. What if instead we put down all of the striving and doing, seeking and achieving, and reflect on what it means to be loved and enough right where we are, in the mess and in the mediocrity, in the full-spectrum of our humanness — that Jesus, the son of God, thought was worthy of sacrificing his life for? Would all that busyness seem so boastful?
“Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:11a) is the counterweight to the world’s busyness. Within that stillness, that rest, that is of God and through him, is the sweet spot of balance where we rejoice, refill, and reclaim the one who centers our soul. It’s hard to be off-kilter when we are focused on the Lord – even if we’re only wearing one earring.
Copyright 2020 Lara Patangan