by Jessica Sanford
I have been in an incredibly busy season for the past several months as I have stepped into a new role at my church. Navigating this life change has been an adjustment for sure. I wish I could say I have balanced the demands of this new season beautifully, but admittedly, that has not always been the case. Perhaps you can relate?
Our daughter grew up in the era of Iowa native Shawn Johnson. You guessed it; after seeing Shawn win gold on the balance beam at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Sydnie suddenly wanted to be the next Shawn Johnson, as did a lot of other little girls her age! At only 3.9 inches in width, the balance beam is a force to be reckoned with. If a gymnast is going to successfully remain on the beam (while jumping, spinning, and flipping in the air, no less), she must keep her weight distributed evenly. The instant her weight shifts even slightly, there is a very strong probability she will fall. It is much the same for us. Maintaining a healthy balance in life spiritually, emotionally, and physically helps us stay upright.
“Living in balance” has become a popular buzz phrase in recent years, but what does it really mean? How do we live a balanced life, especially when so many things compete for our time and attention?
In John 10:10 (NKJV) Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The word abundant in the Greek is perisson, meaning “exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate.” 1 If Jesus offers us an abundant life – one beyond measure, why do we so often settle for something far less? We were not created to live in a continual state of burnout, stress, and strife, lacking any sort of balance in our lives. Yet if we are not careful, we can all too easily find ourselves living in that exact place.
God has a better path forward. In order to live out His best for our lives, we will need some guardrails—some safety measures that will help us to walk in balance, wholeness, and abundance regardless of our circumstances. The truth is, the demands and challenges we face are probably not going away. They may come packaged differently depending on our season, but they will likely still be there. If we don’t have a plan in place for walking in abundance and balance, we most likely won’t be able to live there either. As a result of my current season, I have had to put in place some guardrails that ensure I am able to still make time for things that bring me joy, like meeting friends for coffee, planning my garden, or decorating.
What are some ways we can ensure we are maintaining a healthy balance in our lives?
- Examine our priorities. The abundant life Jesus offered His disciples could not be found in material possessions, personal achievements, or financial gain; rather, what Jesus offered could be found only in a personal relationship with Him. It’s only in the person of Jesus Christ that we discover our identity, purpose, and calling, and this relationship must be first in our lives! When we get our priorities out of order, we risk living outside the spiritual abundance God has for us.
As a mom to two young children, I was struggling to carve out time to meet with God each day. I would tell myself, “I will get to my devotions later,” but “later” with a toddler and an infant isn’t guaranteed. The result was a wife and mother who was not necessarily the best version of herself. One day the Lord checked my spirit, and (in the famous words of Dr. Phil) He asked me, “How has this been working out for you, Jess?” My answer was “Not well!” My priorities needed some fine tuning. Once God and I had our heart-to-heart, I made sure to start each day with Him instead of trying to fit Him in. This adjustment made all the difference!
Question: What adjustments might I need to make in order to ensure my relationship with Christ is my first priority?
- Examine our lifestyle choices. The contrast to the abundant life Jesus offers is an enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy, and he will use whatever means necessary. There is an old saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are again.” Some of our current lifestyle choices may not be serving us well spiritually, physically, or emotionally. If we do not address these choices, we will end up in the same place over and over again. In order to live in the balance and abundance Christ has for us, we may need to let go of some harmful behaviors and replace them with healthier ones. For some, this will mean putting into place not only new patterns of behavior but also new patterns of thinking. Much of the battle is won and lost in our minds. As we go after some of our choices, walking in accountability with a trusted friend, mentor, or coach can be very helpful. Some lifestyle choices are rooted in areas of woundedness that are bigger than us and will require working with a professional counselor. Something I have learned about myself over the years is that I tend to want to step in and fill a need when I see one. (I think this might be the result of being married to the pastor!) Sometimes this can be a good thing, but sometimes this can lead to overcommitting and overextending myself. Because I am aware of this tendency, I am better able to set healthy limits. (Well, mostly!)
Question: What current lifestyle choices might be keeping me from moving toward wholeness and balance? Are my current choices sustainable?
- Examine our next steps. Whatever it takes to go after wholeness, balance, and living in God’s best for our lives, let’s do it! It is never too late to course-correct and create some new and healthier patterns of behavior. If we don’t have them already, it will be important to put into place some guardrails that will sustain and protect us over the long haul. Let’s also be willing to give ourselves some grace as we walk this out.
Question: What steps might God be asking me to take in order to walk in the abundant life He has for me?
We can do this, friends! The abundant life that Jesus offers is not some far-off, elusive pipe dream. Living in balance is completely attainable (regardless of our situation or season) if we keep our weight distributed evenly—firmly anchored in Christ. Let’s not settle for anything less!
About the Author
Jessica Sanford, has served alongside her husband, Matt, in ministry at Fort Des Moines Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa, for more than twenty years and is a licensed coach with Leader Breakthru, Inc. Jessica has a passion to make disciples and to help facilitate spiritual transformation in the lives of those not content with the status quo in their personal relationship with Jesus. Matt and Jessica have two adult children, Skyler and Sydnie.