Today when the sky stopped its flow of tears, several people in a white boat decided to take advantage of the lake's unexpected quiet demeanor. The water was smooth as bamboo linen and most people, like me, were still huddled behind their walls.
I was drawn to look out my windows and then walk out onto my deck by sounds of cheers and clapping. I watched as the lean white boat carved gently to just the right distance away as the man in the water adjusted his rope, body and board. I quickly realized it was a newbie trying to figure out the whole wakeboard thing.
At first he broke at the waist, leaning his torso too far forward, and the boat pulled him right up and over; head first into the water he plunged. Then again. And again. The people in the boat would cheer as the boat pulled him upright, like parents when their child takes his first step.
I was so happy when I finally saw a friend at the back of the boat, in his striped trunks, demonstrating to his friend in the water the correct lean-back, butt-tucked-in position.
I was silently cheering for his success. This time he would do it for sure now that he had the right semantics.
Well, no. Not yet. This time I watched as he leaned so far back his legs flew out from under him and he crashed backwards into the water.
I could feel for him, surely.
As my neighbors, family and friends know, I have fallen many times learning to wakeboard, ski and wakesurf. Learning to get up is the hardest part. And just when I think I am getting the groove, an unexpected wave from a passing boat hits, or I get overconfident, lose focus, try a new move, get tired...and down I plunge. Falls are never fun.
Water sports remind me of how my life often feels. Especially this whole balance thing. Why do I struggle so to figure it out?
My lists are like waves constantly hitting my board. At times, they just downright overwhelm me. Just as I cross something off, two more get added. And then more, and pretty soon my life feels like it is underwater, and I'm scrambling to find the surface just to breathe.
When do I say yes? When do I say no? If I say no, will my friend or family feel unsupported, or worse yet, unloved?
How hard do I need to work? When is it okay to play, especially now that the MN frost has finally waved good-bye and the sun warms my needy skin?
How much is enough to give to my friends, families, and sometimes even strangers of my time, energy and money?
I seem to never get on top of these cycling questions.
I keep falling. Sometimes forwards. Sometimes backwards. Will I ever find my balance?
I am thankful for a few things that have given me some success.
I chose the best captain to steer my life in the best direction most importantly. He steers me towards advise like I read this morning in his Word from writer Solomon, who talked about this whole work balance thing.
First he warns about the danger of overworking. "Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle." (Proverbs 22:4-5, NLT)
Then a little later he warns of the other extreme, "I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit." (Prov. 24:30-34)
The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help be encouraged. –Psalm 69:32
I am also thankful for the wise counsel of my friends. Solomon talks about this also. An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. (Prov. 24:26) Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge. (Prov. 22:12) Wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short. (Prov. 23:14) The words of the godly encourage many. (Prov. 10:21a)
Friends in the boat counsel me with their wisdom. They shout advise on how I can navigate my board to get a great ride. And when I fall, they encourage me to get back up and try again.
I implemented something for the first time this year that has helped gain some balance. I meet with a trustworthy friend the first Friday of the month. Somehow we seem to be more objective with each other's monthly goals and to-do lists. I'll say, "Cross that off for now" or "How about delegating that?" And she does the same with mine.
Then there are great books and podcasts on subjects like time management. Why try to figure this all out on my own? I think I need to ride this wave further.
Lastly, I have found persistence to be a valuable life vest. I'm never going to find balance by sitting in the boat. And when my board plunges down, and in I tumble, I swim to the surface, take a few minutes to get my breath, make some adjustments and try to get back up. I have to find balance through my own successes and failed attempts. All the advice in the world doesn't help if I don't try it out.
And this wakeboard wannabe dude? He finally got up and road the waves, if only for a bit. And his friends cheered loudly.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. –Proverbs 23:16