Capacity > Balance

We had just gotten home from a delightful two week summer vacation.  The laundry was piled high and most belongings around the house were coated in a fresh and untouched layer of dust.  We were scheduled to begin our fifth year of homeschooling in just a few days and out of town relatives arriving around the same time.  I looked around and surveyed the mess, and consulted our family calendar to notice I had two event-free days before the busyness ensued.

There was so much I could - and really should - be doing.  Whatever was given a yes, there were three things waiting to be told no.    

I surveyed the freshly purchased groceries (It’s one of my husband’s favorite things to do.) and thought .. out of everything that could get done, I have space and time, along with enough energy (important aspect), to turn these groceries into freezer meals and make a few sheets of muffins for this week.  

Now, I am not a freezer meal kind of gal, you know the kinds (amazed by them!) that plan out months worth of meals and spend 8 hours making it all?  That is not me.  But in those moments I had the availability and capacity to do it, so I did.  And it was a tremendous help and a tremendous blessing for the weeks that were to come. 

As I took the pictures of my crockpot meals neatly bagged and labeled, along with a photo of one of our finished meals before dinner time I realized this is often where perceptions begin.  If I were to post those pictures, the tiniest snapshot of 2 hours of my 3 weeks, it looks like I  am fairly organized.  All of my ducks in a row.  Time to thoughtfully plan out such wonderful spreads for my family!  And in those 120 moments, I  did.  But really, I  would want the caption to scream and the greater picture to shout of all the things that didn’t get done so that these meals could get done.  I would want the image to reflect how a simple yes blessed my family but it probably wouldn't happen again for 3 more months. 

There is no way any one of us has the ability to balance all that is vying for our attention.  We cannot create all things to be equal amongst our children and spouses, nor can we evenly divide our time between work and home.  We will likely never have all the time in the day to eat well, exercise enough, put in the 40 hour work week, volunteer on the side, clean the house, make time for friends and family, make the family halloween costumes, write out precious notes for all of our kids lunch boxes, attend all the birthday parties and then tackle any other hobbies or delights we may have.  So we try to pursue this hope for balance.  We hear it in the corporate world all the time, work-life balance.  We see it plastered on nearly every graphic tee.  It’s almost become the punch line to a great joke because maybe if we make it into a joke we won’t feel so bad that we’re not achieving it.

I remember in my early years of parenting I  showed up to a mom’s Bible Study with a plate of muffins.  Someone said “Wow, you have a newborn, how did you have time to do that?”

—> Well, I  didn’t go to the gym.  Or watch TV.  Or go on a date.  Or make any meals.  I didn’t read any books.  I  probably didn’t shower much.  And I just felt like making muffins because it made me happy.  That’s what I had mental and emotional capacity to do with my 30 minutes of free time.  It had nothing to do with juggling it all, in fact I juggled nothing.  I literally just made muffins.  (Ironically enough, that morning’s Bible Study was on Proverbs 31 and debunking the myth that Proverbs 31 was a compilation of marvelous traits in one woman - that it is not a standard to be measured against, yet many great qualities seen amongst many godly women in different ages and stages.  What a load off, right??)

Ladies, we have got to step back and stop striving for balance in our lives.  And instead, recognize the God-given season we are in and look at what God has portioned for us in THIS day.  We were not meant to live life striving!  There’s nothing life-giving about just trying to keep up and survive and find the exact right spot on the tightrope so we don’t fall off!  In order to thrive in our everyday we must 1. be filled by the only Source which will water and nourish our souls (John 4:14) and 2. Let Him dictate our boundary lines, which are indeed intended for pleasant places (Psalm 16:5-6).

One of the most life-giving perspective shifts we can make is to stop pursuing balance and start recognizing our own individual capacity.  What is capacity?  It is the amount that something can contain or produce.  And why does this matter?  Because more often than not our capacity changes with the seasons of life.  And when we are able and willing to recognize our current life’s season we will realize what we can whole-heartedly devote our time and attention to, which gives us the freedom and ability to know what is outside of our current season’s capacity.

  • This might mean you are in a season of being able to direct the school play. And if not? Maybe in a few years. Or never. I will actually never do that.

  • It might mean that three nights a week you’re picking up Domino’s pizza and declaring blessing over your meal because you have food! (That was me one year. Crying on my kitchen floor feeling immense guilt over ordering pizza. Again. And the dearest friend in the world texted me and said Lily! Pizza is an Italian family delicacy! Own it!)

  • Your current season might mean you are committing your 9-5 to being your child’s biggest advocate and fighting for their educational and medical rights.

  • Your season might lend to taking on a few speaking engagements or pursuing your masters!

  • This season might mean saying no to all evening activities and trusting God in the process.

  • Maybe you’re in a season of just showing up because your grief is too much to do anything else. So do that, show up.

Can you think for a moment on our earth’s four seasons?  There is not a one that is greater in purpose than another.  Every day, every hour, every single second matters - a time for growing and a time for rest.  A time for cultivating while the earth above sleeps.  The rain, the sun, the harvesting and the replanting.  And it is just the same with our lives.   When humbly submitted to Him, there isn’t a season of our lives that is less than or greater than another.  

My hope and prayer for you, dear and treasured readers, is that this season would be one of an abundant filling up of Him.  That you would indeed taste and see that the Lord is good, and that He has most certainly drawn your boundary lines in pleasant places when living lives submitted to His plans and purposes.  And that with a simple shift in perspective you would go forth in great JOY in the capacity He has for you this season.