Unbalanced Balancing Act

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I yelled at the dog. I haven’t been overwhelmed with anger like that in a long time. It was a total over reaction. And yet it has also exposed to me again my frailty and all the areas that are out of balance. All of us do some sort of a balancing act from day to day and season to season in life. Some days I do mine with a smile, and yet other times when the pressure is high and I risk dropping it all, it can get ugly. This summer, my smile has been authentic but also rare. My balancing act has left me feeling depleted, out of resources, and exposed. In my best moments I feel loved, part of a team, and working with God towards His kingdom goals. In my darkest moments I feel unseen, unsupported, unloved, undervalued, and like what I do doesn’t matter.

I have been doing hard work this year. Body work. Mind work. Heart work. I joined a weight loss program and worked diligently for 7 months to shed 25 pounds. I stretched myself in a speaking class. I invested 9 months into a soul care/spiritual formation group. I attended a retreat in the fall and then spent a week this spring in an intensive therapy program. I re-committed to regularly attending a local therapist. I was in a bible study. Growth mindset? Check. Fear of failure? Check. Pushing into the uncomfortable? Check.

This has been a year of grueling self-discipline, self-discovery and self-advocacy work. I'm learning to find my voice and to advocate for myself. I’m learning to identify what I feel, where I’m at, and then ask for what I need. It feels like it should be hopeful. It sounds like development toward a better more balanced life. But even in all that balance of healthy growth, there is still unbalance. Unbalance of a grueling work season. Unbalance of a family health crisis. Unbalance in idealized schedules, and self-care and boundaries that seem elusive. And it’s easy for me to just want to throw in the towel, or spend the day crying, or yell at the dog.

“It’s not as bad as _____” Fill in the blank. Do you ever do this? I have done this for years, talking myself out of my emotion. Because, I want to have a grateful heart. I want to have a content spirit. I want to recognize my good things, not just count my bad things. But I’m realizing there is a major problem with this “not as bad as” reasoning. It discounts my emotion. It discounts my anger, my disappointment, my sadness. It doesn’t allow me to feel the weight of the emotion and move through it. It keeps me stuck feeling like I should be more thankful, I should be less frustrated, I should keep things in perspective. Should keeps me stuck. Not moving. Not allowing myself to feel the feels. One of the tricks I’ve learned through all my therapy this year is how to name my emotions. By taking the time to check in emotionally and give a voice to what I am feeling it can help take the edge off the looming disaster and move my head and my heart into a more rational space. I’ve also got a voice in my head that now encourages me to “ask for what I need.” If I don’t ask for myself, no one else will ask for me. Even people who love me and want the best for me won’t be able to ask for what I need for me… only I can do that. Only I can advocate for myself. So in this season of necessary unbalance I’m asking for a date night with my husband, and asking for an extra long sleep in bed. I’m calling a timeout for myself and checking in on my emotions, I’m sinking into God’s word trusting in His promises to sustain and guide me through this necessary unbalance.

Psalm 119: 107-109 "I’m bruised and broken, overwhelmed by it all; breathe life into me again by your living word. Lord, receive my grateful thanks and teach me more of how to please you. Even though my life hangs in the balance, I’ll keep following what you’ve taught me, no matter what."

 

Sara Carlson