Balancing Act

Trying to balance ministry, family, me-time, God-time and friend-time is hard. I more or less always feel the tension. Recently, I have felt it a lot and have not responded well.

When I get overwhelmed, stressed, or way out of balance, I get cranky and irritable. My to-do list grows, as I try to control what I can. When I don’t tick off everything on my to-do list, which I rarely do, I feel like I failed. This leads to feelings of guilt that, in turn, leads to more moodiness. It becomes a vicious cycle, and those close to me almost have to be saints to put up with me.

I feel as though I am disappointing a lot of people these days. I am so busy that I have little time to spend with my family and friends on this side and to talk with my family and friends on that side. Last Thursday, I had a stress headache, which is a huge warning sign that I need to slow down and take a break. So instead of going to the gym after work, I came home and watched a musical. I enjoyed it—yet I felt guilty about indulging in a luxury, watching a movie during a weekday. I had supper to cook, lunches to make, clothes to wash—why on earth was I watching a movie?

Guilt

Guys & Dolls, one of my favourite musicals, happens to be about a missionary
Guys & Dolls, one of my favourite musicals, happens to be about a missionary

I think I am in need of a holiday, a real vacation in which Wayne and I can go away for a while and just relax. In the meantime, I am relieving my stress through musicals, which have become a sort of a mental escape for me. I can totally switch off and sing to my heart’s delight.

I admit: I am an over-achiever, a product of my American-driven culture. Being a missionary has not cured that part of my personality. On the contrary, I have carried that part of me into my ministry, which is not necessarily a good thing. When I don’t see the results that I want to see or expect to see, I feel like I am failing. But who puts that pressure on me? It’s me. I am my own worst enemy.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

In times like these, I try to keep in mind two of my favourite quotations:

God calls us to be faithful, not to be successful.”
–Mother Teresa

Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.”
–Boris Pasternak

I pray, asking God to help me live in the moment and for wisdom on how to put my life back in balance. And I dream about what sort of musical my life would be if I could portray it in song and dance.

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Developing Rhythm (sort of)

No, I still haven’t learned how to dance. That’s coming—one of these days!

I have been back in Cape Town for a little more than six weeks; and in those six weeks, I have taught at three conferences, worked on various projects, and done my day-to-day work. I’m feeling a bit tired but not as frantic and exhausted as I would normally feel after being on such a hectic schedule.

cup of morning joe
cup of morning joe

I’m trying really hard to develop a healthy rhythm of work and play and rest this year; and although I have been struggling of late, I already see fruit budding from my attempts. I’m not a morning person, so having quiet time before work is not really an option for me. (I’m just being honest.) For years, thanks to some handy apps, I have been listening to scripture or the office of Morning Prayer while I have been getting ready in the morning. My mind often wanders during the readings, but I know God’s Word is sinking in despite my short attention span. However, I felt like I needed to develop a new practice, and I wanted to start the day off with scripture and prayer before I got out of bed. (Naturally, I keep my alarm on just in case I drift off to sleep!) I read the gospel or epistle reading of the lectionary and offer to God the day and pray for blessings and protection for those I love. The practice only takes three to five minutes, but I feel like it is making a significant difference in my life.

In addition to my new morning routine, I’m reading more (yay!) and going to the gym regularly. My work schedule is relentless until mid-July, so I need your prayers for discipline to keep developing a healthy rhythm.