It was a typical morning drive to my kids’ school—rushed, in an effort to beat the bell. As I neared the school, I leaned on the horn in annoyance, blaring at the car that was blocking the entrance to the parking lot. Quickly nudging forward to let my car pass, the driver mouthed an apology that I probably didn’t deserve given the length of my too-angry honk.
I got my children to the drop-off door just as Sister Margaret was shutting it. “Please try to get here a little earlier,” she said, somewhat sterner than the last time she’d made that request.
“Sorry Sister,” I said, hoping my voice was louder than my stomach, which was grumbling in protest that, although I had fed my kids, I hadn’t myself eaten breakfast. Again. As if this audible reminder of my need to prioritize wasn’t embarrassing enough, I also caught a glimpse of the dark circles under my eyes in my rearview mirror as I drove off—two dark crescents attesting to my nightly lack of sleep.
Like many, I struggle with finding balance in my life. Due to this lack of balance, I’d become sleep-deprived, unhealthy, always in a rush, and easily irritated.
I knew that balance was important to God. I knew that when our priorities were imbalanced, we risked cultivating a life of poor health, bitterness, and apathy toward our faith. This state of unrest, in turn, can cause us to treat others with a blunted sense of compassion, turning us away from the relationships that help us gain a better understanding of God’s love.
I also knew, however, that living in a balanced way can be daunting in our age of overscheduling and I-can-have-it-all thinking. Fortunately, while searching for guidance, I realized that when it comes to learning how to live a balanced life, I don’t have to look any further than the examples Jesus gave us.
Here are four lessons that Jesus taught me about seeking balance.
1. Rest to recharge and refocus
Throughout his ministry, there were times when Jesus was surrounded by chaotic crowds clamoring for his attention (Mark 4:1), and times when a storm hit while Jesus was mid-journey (Mark 4:35-41). During these stressful moments, Jesus didn’t hesitate to rest when he needed to.
I often spend my days caring for my children and assisting my elderly parents. I navigate the storms that rise up as I coax my kids to finish their homework and my parents to follow doctor’s orders, all while meeting my daily work obligations. I frequently immerse myself in my to-do lists at the expense of getting sufficient sleep, which leads to feelings of resentment toward those I care or work for, not to mention physical and mental burnout.
To avoid the imbalance that burnout brings, I started carving out time for adequate sleep by delegating tasks, distinguishing between the vital and the trivial, and accepting that our home would not crumble if I let a chore or two go unattended for the day. Once I allowed myself to get the rest I needed, I had the energy and focus to accomplish my daily duties on time and with a greater sense of joy.
2. Eat well to boost your health and energy
While ministering to the multitudes, Jesus understood that he and his disciples needed a proper meal as much as they needed sufficient rest (Mark 6:30-31). In fact, making time for meals was of such significance to Jesus that he revealed the Kingdom of God while breaking bread with his disciples (Luke 22:14-20).
I knew that making time for well-balanced meals was crucial to ward off certain types of diseases, maintain a healthy weight, and keep energy levels high. To put this into practice, I started cooking nutritious, vegetable-rich recipes, and buying good-for-you snacks like Greek yogurt, string cheese, fruit, and nuts that I now grab on-the-go instead of skipping meals. Making better food choices has helped me feel better-nourished, more proactive about my health, and more energized to tackle my daily tasks.
3. Nurture the ties that bind to feel happier, live longer
The Gospels tell us that Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding he attended with his mother (John 2:1-11). It’s telling that Jesus chose to commence his ministry while surrounded by friends and family. It’s also telling that, upon embarking on his ministry, Jesus selected a steady group of supporters with whom to travel and carry out his work.
Numerous studies have shown that people in supportive relationships are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer than those without such social bonds.
To seize opportunities for quality time with others, I turned outings alone into time spent with loved ones. I discovered that time together didn’t have to be fastidiously planned or the destination especially noteworthy. In fact, some of my most enjoyable get-togethers have been in the midst of running errands. I’m lucky to have loved ones nearby, but if that isn’t the case for you, join a club or take up a hobby that might introduce you to like-minded people with whom to enjoy your time.
4. Deepen your discussions with God to make better, more confident choices
The Gospels cite several instances in which Jesus prayed, whether alone (Luke 5:15-16) or with others (Luke 9:28). Even during his anguish at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus turned to prayer to grapple with his fears and embolden himself for what was to come (Matthew 26:36-42).
Whenever I find myself thinking that I don’t have time to pray, I remind myself that there’s no context within which I can’t take a moment to pray silently. By stealing minutes to sit in God’s presence and discuss my tribulations, I’ve deepened my faith life in leaps and bounds. This spiritual balance has helped me make better choices for myself, which in turn makes me better at helping others.
Finding balance takes prioritizing; maintaining balance takes determination. By putting Jesus’ balance-seeking lessons into practice in my life, I feel healthier, revitalized, and more connected than ever to my loved ones and to my faith. Even on turbulent days when there don’t seem to be enough hours to do what I must, I find that if I stick to these balance-seeking techniques, I have more focus and energy to get things done, making the best use of the time I do have.