finding balance {alicia's story}...

my friend, alicia, is sharing her finding balance story today.
alicia blogs at investing love and can be found on intsagram at @aliciaahutchinson.
alicia blogs about life as mom to four, their homeschool days, her heart, 
and whatever else might strike her fancy. 
she has two little boys and two little girls and lives in the mountains of north carolina, 
where the trees are gorgeous this time of year.  
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Balance.

We all want it.  We all search for it.  Even before kids, we search for this thing called balance so we can feel a sense of normalcy, like all the spokes on our gears are clicking together like clockwork.  It's not even perfectionism, but just normalism.  We all hate the feeling of being out of whack, whether it's relationally or with our jobs or with our health, we want things to click.

Something hit me while I was getting ready for this post though--I'm not sure it's as much we want to feel balanced as we want to feel like we have some sort of control over our lives, our homes, our relationships, or days.  Calling ourselves control freaks doesn't feel so good, but if we really asked ourselves in private, is that what we're looking for? Here's the thing--to me, I feel like balance will never happen...for any of us.  Why? Because as soon as one area starts to feel normal--or under control--or balanced, then something else inevitably spins out of control for us again; the baby decides to boycott naps, your mother-in-law gets sick and you're husband leaves for days, your brother loses his job and moves in with you--whatever it is, balance can't be held onto.  But don't fret, I think there's even better things to attain than the fleeting vapor that is balance.




Let It Go


That's right, cue the snowflakes swirling around my braided hair.  No really, we need to.  Without going into grave detail, this past 18 months or so has pushed me to my limits.  We've been living in the gross grey area of limbo for way too long.  We've almost emerged from limbo several times only to get a good enough glimpse at the crisp colors we longed for and then to fall back into the pit of grey again.  Add in losing a ton of money on several house deals gone bad, a stolen promotion, a new baby (that we of course adore, but so wanted to bring her into the world at a calmer time in our lives), and then a mouse-infested townhouse and you've got yourself a recipe for a balance-conscience girl gone mad crazy. 

But back to letting it go...I took a long break from social media at the beginning of this year and I learned so many things, but I learned this for sure: this world that we live in is completely OUT OF CONTROL.  We can plan, we can dream--and we should, but it probably won't go that way.  Sometimes life consists of a series of crappy hands, but we don't have a choice to fold--there's way too many people depending on us.  I had to realize to let all that go.  The job troubles, the marriages troubles caused by the job troubles, the sleeplessness, the question I constantly asked myself if we had done everything wrong, the mice, the rental.  It had to be released or I was going to lose my mind.  Really.

So I did.

It wasn't suddenly, it was very gradual.  But it was released still the same.  Easier said than done, right?  Not really...





A Religion of Gratitude

I've been a Christian for a long time.  I've never thought much about prayer, I just knew we should do it.  Over the months and months of my husband's job searching and hating where he was currently working and the string of confusion of disappointments, I prayed my brains out--literally on my face, begging for God to change our situation.  So desperately I wanted my husband to be happier in his work.  I wanted a house that was mine.  I didn't want to share walls any more.  I wanted my kids to have a backyard that was theirs to play in.  I wanted all that and I begged for it with all my being.  But then, about a year ago, I stopped. 

My fervency was setting me up for an emotional fall.  I was putting so much energy into pleading with God, giving Him my checklist, that I set it up so it felt like even He failed me.  I wrestled with God and then I stopped.  I didn't want to fight it anymore.  I realized my prayers had turned into a list of things I required to live a supposedly happy life, checking in an answered prayer with a gold star for God's blessing and chalking up an unanswered one to "God having a plan."  I didn't want to try to figure it all out anymore.  I only knew what I knew--that my husband's job sucked, that I lived in a rented townhouse that I hated, and that I was falling apart over it all--and I didn't want to figure out all the "whys."

I'm not saying my prayers weren't working or anything like that.  I'm just saying it had become an inhibitor for me, like I was in a hamster wheel spinning my wheels.  Another thing to fail me.  So now I pray, but I pray much differently.  I seek the small things, the hidden things, the frail and the fleeting things--and I am grateful.  At the beginning of this year, I stopped asking and started seeking.  If I couldn't find the answers, I'd find the real things--the things right in front of me that I would be missing completely if I was too focused on the unanswered. 

Gradually, I began to choose the haves over the have-not's
the savory over the sad
the obvious instead of the unknown
the great instead of the grave--

and so this religion of gratitude evolved in my life.

I do believe that God knows what we need, but right now I'm not asking.  We have a unique relationship, God and I--and I think He's cool with that.  We're on good terms--much better terms actually.  I start most days with coffee and my journal, just like always.  But now I start with a list--a list of all the things from that very moment or the previous day that were filling me up, making me smile, and giving me joy. 

The sucky job has been upgraded for a better one, but we're still in the grey limbo place.  We're still in the townhouse we used to hate, it feels familiar.  And we've made such good friends with our neighbors that we don't even care so much anymore.  My kitchen is still a honey-oak nightmare, but I can whip up a pretty amazing roast beef in it, so I just kinda shrug it off these days.  I still don't want to live here forever, I still want the house that's mine with a backyard.  I still want to be out of the grey and into the bright horizon, but I feel like it needed to stick this one out--let the mice and the honey oak stretch me--and they have.  Really.  It sounds like I swallowed a crazy, happy pill but I didn't.  I just decided to be grateful. 






Gratitude + Balance


So what does that have to do with the balance question?  Well, it's everything, you guys.  When you're focused on the great things, you can easily spot the things that are messing with those great things.  Too much on the calendar, stressful relationships, a too-complicated daily schedules, heaps of clutter.  Those things stick out like the weeds they are and dare us to pull them out--and we should.    Those things stress us out, they steal our joy.  There's always going to be stuff like that, that's just life.  We need to be wise enough to spot it as weeds and harmful to our homes and take it out, before we start to harbor the ugly again.  Here's some things I think are big joy-stealers:
-Comparison
-Keeping up with others
-Feeling the need to participate in everything
-Feeling the need to volunteer for everything
-Feeling like you can't miss anything
-Wishing you were somewhere else, someone else, in a different house--basically just wishing in general
-Too much time in social media--looking at only 10% of someone's life, interpreting it as 100% truth
-Full calendars
-Full closets
-Stressful relationships

this is just to name a few--you know what yours are.

Choosing to see the good and focus on that doesn't mean you're skirting an issue.  Deal with that issue and move on.  We have dreams and ambitions, and we should, but we have to live life in the meantime.  We can't let the in-between time kill us.  I love this quote by Helen Keller:




And this, my sweet friends, is where I think any sort of balance can come from.  Being happy and grateful while we're working for what you want.  This is what I've tried to do everyday this year and it has changed me.  Letting go of what I can't change, focusing on the good, and being grateful for what I have while all the rest works itself out--while I don't think we can ever really achieve true balance--the world is too crazy for that--I think this is as close is we can get.  And I'm good with that.  No, I'm grateful for it.

Cheers, friends.  And happy trails to you on your journeys. 

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Thank you so much, Erin, for having me over at your space today.  I'm honored that you asked!
xo

{the rest of the posts in this series can be found here.}


2 comments:

  1. i so relate to this, alicia! thank you for sharing. reminds me i'm not alone. : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. So so good and true! Being grateful has really been the key to allowing God to work and let His will make things fall into place. Such a well written post, Alicia. Thank you for sharing your tips and your heart. You are a blessing!
    -Rachel (goodmorningjoy)

    ReplyDelete

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