Balance. It’s something we all look for right? We want a work/life balance, balanced diet, and balanced emotions. We think we will feel relieved and less stressed once we’ve hit that perfect combination that results in a balanced life. It’s just a matter of putting the right pieces in the right spot and doing everything we can to keep them there, right?
“A full life is full of paradoxes.”
What if I told you that wasn’t right? That balance requires tension. I grew up dancing and by high school I danced 4-5 days/week for about 20 hour/week total. I did A LOT of dancing! I was particularly good at turns (and particularly not so flexible). If you’ve ever seen a ballerina turn, you know she requires intimate knowledge of balance.
Balancing is about holding tension in your body. Your standing leg (the one you’re balancing on) pushes deep into the floor, toes pressing in like roots. Your tummy muscles pull up and neck stretches to the sky. All while your shoulders press down with arms rounded out into a perfect middle fifth position. You have to maintain all this while your working leg looks pretty with perfectly pointed toes.
“I was struck by the fact that my biggest joy comes alongside my greatest sorrow.”
This is real life too. A full life is full of paradoxes. It’s holding the tension between two seemingly opposing things. I was recently at my church’s Ash Wednesday service where I ALWAYS CRY. And I was struck by the fact that my biggest joy comes alongside my greatest sorrow. I am filled with sadness when I think about why God had to send His son to Earth. My sin, the world’s sin, our sin required atonement. And it requires atonement precisely because God loves us.
I am filled with both sorrow for my own sin, and overwhelming joy because God loves me still.
So the tears flowed as I embraced the uncomfortable tension of holding two opposite feelings that somehow complete one another.
“Don’t ignore the uncomfortable parts of life.”
Because that’s the thing about tension, when we’re not use to embracing it, it is unbearably uncomfortable, and we chose one side over the other. But in choosing a side, we lose something. We lose the wholeness that comes with embracing the whole picture: even the parts we don’t want to.
Don’t ignore the uncomfortable parts of life. For some that is certain (or all) feelings. For others it may be certain thoughts or beliefs. When a ballerina forgets to press into the floor while pulling up to the sky, she falls (believe me, I’ve done it). Balance in life will never be achieved if we are trying to selectively experience only the comfortable.