Have you ever wondered how some people balance everything? God. Family. School. Marriage. Friends. Career. You’ve tried hard to find it, a balanced life, but most days you think you’re more likely to discover a purple-spotted unicorn.
But here’s what I want to propose: balancing your life is not possible. This becomes increasingly evident as life adds responsibilities to your days. When I first started adulting, I was deceived. I thought I could balance this life thing. But I had few responsibilities. Job. Marriage. And even those plates teetering over from time to time.
Today, I’m in my second decade of adulting. Job responsibilities…increased. I now have three kids. They all demand my attention (rightfully so…it’s called being a dad). They also have stuff going on all the time. And my wife still needs my attention. Oh, and my relationship with God. I still need to prioritize that.
Balancing my current life is equivalent to walking a tightrope.
Don’t get me wrong, walking a tightrope is entertaining. For a select few deranged humans, even possible. But even the best in the world can’t balance on glorified dental floss forever.
Balancing anything an extended period of time is difficult. It’s impossible, I would argue (except for the waiters at Mexican restaurants, they could balance multiple plates indefinitely…those dudes are gifted). At some point, your strength (or focus) will fail, and something hits the ground. Hard.
Yet, most of us wake up every day and begin the journey across the glorified dental floss, hoping a puff of wind doesn’t send our lives crashing out of control. Kids. School. Marriage. Work. Sleep. Start walking.
“Hey, Frank. Great observation and all. But are you going to suggest some solutions or should I stop reading now?”
Why, yes. Yes, I am. I’m going to suggest the way of God. The way of all creation. What is this way?
The way of RHYTHM.
I am convinced that a life of rhythm is the answer to the chaos that is life.
This is nothing new or revolutionary. Rhythm is an ancient way to go about life, as old as time. That’s what makes it God’s way. All of creation operates under a constant, sustainable rhythm. This is God’s doing. He created us to operate this way, you see.
Here’s why you need to establish of life of rhythm.
Rhythm manages energy, not time.
“I wish I had more time. There aren’t enough hours in the day.” If we are honest, we know this to be true: the answer to our chaotic lives isn’t more time. If we had more hours, we would just waste more time. I know I would.
So, what do we manage? Energy. A life of rhythm prioritizes stuff so energy is maximized, not time. And this is a game-changer because energy is variable. And powerful. It can be harnessed and controlled.
My life has forced me into this powerful reality. Recently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’ve had to listen more to my body. I’m working with less than normal levels of energy. I can’t do everything I used to do, but I can still do what I NEED to do. That is, if I pay attention to my energy and give the bulk of it to the stuff that matters most (family, marriage, God, writing this post). When I go wasting it on meaningless crap (stress or fear or CrossFit), that’s when I get in trouble.
The same is true for you, though. What you do with your life will be determined by where you give your energy.
A life of rhythm integrates all of your needs rather than all of your tasks.
In his book, The Life of Rhythm, Matthew Kelly says our needs fall into four categories: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
No matter how “productive” our life appears, if we abandon our needs, we aren’t accomplishing much of anything. In a busy, task-oriented world, this message needs to be heard. A life that gives priority to those areas that deserve priority is a life that oozes with excellence, creativity, and passion.
There is more to our existence than checking boxes on a to-do list, chasing promotions, or accumulating large bank accounts.
A life of rhythm says strength is built on self-control and resistance, not size and physicality.
The world has a misconception about strength. It defines strength in terms of size and physicality. God shows us a different way. Jesus modeled strength that is rooted in self-control and resistance. His strength was impossible to hold back or defeat.
Or take the ocean. It’s impossible to hold the ocean back or alter its rhythm. The ocean has a quiet strength. This strength isn’t always visible. But it’s always present.
A life of rhythm is the life of Jesus. It isn’t dependent upon external force or overpowering others. It isn’t swayed by perceptions or expectations. It is consistent. It is controlled. And although this strength might not be visible to the world, over time it changes the world.
A life of rhythm is built on fruitfulness, not busyness.
“How are you doing, Frank?”
“Man, I am busy. How are you?”
Busyness is championed in America, is it not? Rest is a sign of laziness. Look up the word “slow” in the dictionary.
Synonyms include plodding and sluggish.
But I’ll ask out loud what many are thinking, “Is our busyness leading to more fruitfulness?”
A life of rhythm doesn’t try to keep up with the pace of the culture. In fact, the opposite is true. A life of rhythm moves at a slow pace.
The world doesn’t need busier people. The world needs focused people. We need people who engage in the long, slow work of producing fruit in the lives of others.
A life of rhythm focuses on who you become, not what you do.
A life of balance doesn’t have time to consider who we are becoming. It’s all about doing. Do. Do. Do. There is no space to go deeper. That’s why there’s an alarming lack of self-awareness in today’s world, an equally alarming increase in narcissism.
Rhythm never sacrifices integrity to protect an image or reputation. Rhythm says the desires of our heart are more valuable than the achievements in our life. Rhythm says it more important to increase in gratitude and love than trinkets and wealth.
A life of rhythm sees time through the lens of opportunity, not hours, minutes and seconds.
In the Bible, there are two different ways to view time. One is chronos. This is the traditional way of viewing time in terms of days, hours, etc. A balanced life sees time this way. Every hour is important because every task needs to be completed.
The second way to see time is through the lens of opportunity. This is called kairos. Kairos doesn’t look at the world through an hourglass or a time clock. This type of time teaches us to look for opportunities and take advantage of them. Kairos is the foundation for a life of rhythm. It is God’s dimension of time.
Every second isn’t created equal. Great leaders understand this. Rhythm looks for opportunities to peek around the corner at eternity. Those opportunities can be anywhere. Work. Store. Church. Coffee shop.
A meaningful life begins when you measure time using opportunities rather than minutes and hours.
Rhythm makes us givers rather than takers.
If you had one word to describe God, what word would you use? Love? Mercy? Holy? All of those describe God. Fair enough. But I want to propose another word…GIVER. We can debate whether or not this is the definitive characteristic of God. But we can’t debate whether it’s a primary one.
God always gives. Always. He never takes. Not from creation. Not from humans. And here’s the thing about God. He is never in need.
In God’s economy, your worth is determined by poverty. The most wealthy are the greatest servants. Those who have the most are the ones who give the most.
Give your time to others. Give your talents and resources to the world. Do this, you will be rich in the stuff that lasts, peace and joy and love and hope.
It’s time to restore God’s way, the way of rhythm. It is a strange blend of rest, activity, and pace. But this strange way leads us to the Way and into an abundant life.
How would you define a life of rhythm? Leave a comment below.
Grace and peace, friends.
Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.