On Mindful Balance
A trip to the grocery store this time of year is an opportunity to witness balance at its finest; families are often seen roaming the aisles together, putting boxes of crayons and boxes of graham crackers into their shopping carts in equal quantities. The start of the school year is right around the corner, but that doesn't mean that there still isn't time for one more camping trip, one more opportunity for quiet and reflective family time, and one more new memory of summer before the dinner table becomes a site for homework help and weeknights get busier with the start of after-school sports and clubs. Quiet and noise should exist in our lives in equal measure because a healthy relationship with both will allow us to grow in our appreciation of both the moments when our lives are serene and the moments when our lives get a little bit louder. But creating (and maintaining) this sense of balance is often much easier said than done.
In our society, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cultivate a sense of balance. We have an almost innate tendency to forget how to find balance in our days, instead allowing our attention to be commandeered by the never-ending beeping of text and email alerts as well as the temptation to amass as many social media likes as possible by curating a lifestyle that is anything but tranquil. While we cannot drop everything and live a life on the complete opposite of the spectrum where we do not allow ourselves to be bothered by anything beyond what will bring us serenity, we need to find a sense of mindful balance in our days. One way to do this is by making sure we always have time for the people we love most, including God. In creating this sense of intentional balance, we will find the peace of mind and heart that can only come from spiritual clarity and light.
So how, exactly, can we create this perfect mindful balance? If we're being honest, we know that turning inward and relying on the spirit of Christ and perfect intention with which we have been blessed is not an easy task. We live in a world that tries to entice us to believe that the more material items and accomplishments we can collect and boast about in the faces of others will mean we will be filled with happiness. But the Word of God teaches a different lesson - one that is rooted in a sense of appreciation for both the quiet and the noise in our lives, coexisting in a harmonious balance where we give equal attention to both for the glory of our Lord: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need to find peace in both the calm and the noise of our lives, and in the process, find our faith and our relationship with Christ.
FINDING PEACE IN THE CALM
We all desire to have those moments of calm in our lives, like the family from the grocery store will find on their mountain retreat, when they spend a quiet evening among the trees, taking in the majesty of God's natural handiwork. But often, when we find ourselves with those opportunities to enjoy our own company (and the company of God that is often found in the silence) we start to freak out, feeling anything but peaceful as our minds ignore the beauty that is held in quiet, choosing instead to race with thoughts of all that we could be doing to accomplish the next task or remove something from our to-do list. Quiet time often feels like a waste of time. But the peace of mind that we can find when we commit time to our relationship with God and with those around us is anything but wasteful; it allows us to renew ourselves and recommit to our purpose of serving God and one another.
We have been taught that silence is suspicious, and we need to fill every moment with some kind of reverie, but now is the time for us to overcome that false belief, to align our hearts and our minds to finding the peace that can only come to us when we evaluate who we are when the noise is taken away, and celebrate all that God has made us to be. One of the best ways to accomplish a pursuit of quiet peace is through prayer, when we withdraw ourselves from our distractions and focus solely on our connection with the Lord. Jesus advocated for this type of prayer practice many times during His earthly ministry (Luke 5:16), and we would be wise to follow His example, finding quiet joy in our prayer lives.
FINDING PEACE IN THE NOISE
Our world is noisy - there is no other way to describe it, and soon enough, when they return from their peaceful camping trip, the families from the grocery store will accept this reality, and strive to find the grace that is present in a different capacity than what they knew in the silence. There is peace to be found in the din of our environment, as long as we remain conscious of the need to appreciate the noise only in balance with our quiet moments. God has called us, as His chosen ones, to share His message of loving kindness and worth with others, and that can only be accomplished in joyful noise. Since we are to spend our days in reverence of those things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), aren't we also called to bless the lives of others with those things as well? When we commit ourselves to pursuit of the pleasures of life that fill us with contentment, we develop a healthy relationship with the noise around us - allowing it to fill our spirits with connection to God and one another.
The noise around us, when encountered with the hope of spiritual renewal, can also lead us to explore what we want out of life. If those quiet moments are the times when we evaluate ourselves and consider what we desire, the noisy moments are the ones in which we can put our plans into action. When we identify how we want to live our lives, and oblige ourselves to a practice of commitment to that plan, we can begin to gain clarity in our focus: "Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding" (Proverbs 3:13). We need to remember to always consider the wisdom of our souls that often comes to us in the silence - and use it to aide our thriving in times of noise. When we work on increasing the amount of time we spend doing what we love with who we love, we will find peace even on the noisiest days.
How are you working on finding and creating balance in your life today? How can you find increased contentment in your both your quiet and noisy times?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Rebecca Flasz is an avid traveler, lifestyle writer, and elementary school teacher turned college professor. She holds degrees in Education at the Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and Doctorate of Education levels and has a heart for teaching others. In addition, she is a passionate free spirit who enjoys a good cup of tea, spending time outdoors with family, and listening to the sounds of wind chimes and singing birds. She believes in writing pieces that are reflective of the loving kindness of Christ, meant to help others feel worthy and loved. You can read more of Rebecca's writing on her blog Sagebrush and Salt.