Finding balance: Look at the big picture

Overwhelmed and exhausted by personal and professional responsibilities, this mother yearned for a solution – and found that keeping one’s thought grounded in God helps maintain and restore order and balance.

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There I was, sitting on the couch close to tears. “There has to be a better way. This just isn’t working,” I thought. While I love each of the components of my life – a loving family, fulfilling professional responsibilities, and membership in a church that feels like family – I was feeling more and more overwhelmed and flat-out exhausted.

I don’t think I’m the only one feeling this way. I’ve seen an increasing number of articles about the disproportionate way in which women (especially mothers) carry the household and emotional load for their families, in addition to their professional responsibilities. There is a desire for men and women to feel valued and supported – and to find an unshakable order and balance in day-to-day life.

I’ve found that lasting solutions come through prayer, so I had prayed about this problem in my own life. However, my prayers tended to be half praying and half telling God about the various things and people that needed to change.

Finally, frustrated by the feebleness of my ability to solve the problem, I changed my approach to my prayers: I opened my heart to listen. And an answer came when I least expected it.

I was walking one day and thought, “I just don’t know how to make all the pieces fit together, God. Show me how this all works.” No sooner had I thought this than an idea came to me so clearly that it was as if someone were walking next to me and talking: “You don’t put together a jigsaw puzzle by just looking at the pieces separately. You do a puzzle by keeping your eyes on the big picture.”

The answer was so clear to me. I had been spending my days staring at the pieces of my life as if they were disjointed puzzle pieces. No matter how many times I turned them around and tried to force them together, they didn’t fit. I realized that I needed to stop dwelling on the chaos and instead look at my life from a spiritual perspective.

Christ Jesus offers a perfect example of how to do this. He was certainly busy: He mentored his disciples; traveled all over, teaching and preaching; had an active healing ministry. The Bible tells of crowds following him and diverting him from his intended destination. Yet it doesn’t seem these demands rattled him. He had a clear sense of man’s spiritual nature and unbreakable relation to God. For instance, he said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

Jesus understood that he didn’t have to personally generate order and balance. Rather, he was a transparency for God’s love, which God expresses in all of us. It must have been this understanding that allowed him to feel the presence of peace even in the midst of the most chaotic situations.

The task before me, then, was to gain a clearer understanding of the big picture – of God as my Father-Mother, and of myself as His, Her, loved child – and to refer back to this big-picture view throughout my day, regardless of what came up. While I haven’t yet demonstrated this to its fullest degree, one recent experience gave me a glimpse of how keeping one’s thought grounded in God, divine Spirit, helps maintain and restore order and balance.

One morning, I was up unusually early, practically giddy at feeling so alert and having so much focused time to pray before the day began. But just then, my son blearily stumbled into the room.

Familiar thoughts knocked at my mental door: “See, this is why I can’t ever get anything done!” Then I remembered the analogy of the puzzle pieces and the big picture – God’s infinite love, goodness, and harmony, which are reflected in His entire creation. The grumbling stopped instantly, and I felt a sense of calm just sweep over me. As I snuggled with my son, we began talking about God and praying together. The conversation was effortless and holy for both of us.

What had initially seemed to be a disruption was actually an opportunity to glimpse true balance: activity that is God-centered and God-inspired, with little to no trace of my own effort or willpower. It was no longer about one piece of my life fitting together (or not) with another piece. It was simply a beautiful unfoldment of God, divine Love, embracing my son and me completely and meeting our needs.

The balance that comes from feeling and living our oneness with God is a possibility for each one of us, in every moment.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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