Perfect life balance is a myth, but we can be peace-filled moms amidst the stress and demands of our lives by having the right purpose, priorities, pursuits, and practices (habits).
Why is perfect life balance a myth? I can think of two reasons. At any given time or season, we pursue what is meaningful and important to us, and this naturally tilts the scale to one side. As Alain de Bott put it, “Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
For the last two weeks, I was like a headless chicken, trying to figure out what to prioritize before the Global Homeschool Conference. The kids had two booths which they were preparing for with their friends, one called the Goo-d Stuff (for their slime), and then Take a Bow (hairpieces and earrings). My sister, Candy, and her husband Jeff, as well as their kids, were also visiting from the U.S. We went on a family vacation to the beach while Edric and I had to finish last minute editing for our book before it went to print. Then I had to finalize my presentation for the workshop I was going to give during the conference.
On Friday before the conference, I was hammering and sawing wood to make the frames to hold up the tarps for the kids’ booths. (Sadly, they turned out to be pretty ugly. I am really a wannabe carpenter.) Into the evening of Friday, I was still designing and creating final earring pieces for Tiana to sell as well.
While trying to manage all of the activities and schedules, I had to homeschool the kids. You can imagine how this suffered. Homeschooling was erratic these past two weeks because I had to focus on other matters. It was impossible to balance everything. My back also ached because my scoliosis gets aggravated when I am in my third trimester. Now, I can breathe again, and my kids and I are trying to get back into our regular homeschool rhythm. Thankfully, my back pain has subsided since I have been able to get decent sleep.
The second reason why perfect life balance is a myth is this: We live in a sinful, broken world that isn’t problem-free or stress-free. It won’t be fixed completely until Christ comes again. We don’t live in the Garden of Eden anymore. Things break down, fall apart, people get sick, money isn’t always abundant. The reality is we need to deal with these concerns and issues.
The question is, is it possible to be, as Proverbs 31 puts it, a woman who is clothed with strength and dignity, and who smiles at the future? This is the epitome of a peace-filled mom––one who looks rested, someone whose strength and dignity are apparent to those around her. She has the right perspective, and she is future-focused versus overcome by the now.
What comforts me about this standard is that this woman didn’t have everything handed to her on a silver platter. She was a good example of someone who was industrious, who concerned herself with the needs of those around her. I’m sure she had multiple stresses to deal with, but what set her apart was her inner person. There was a peace and a joy amidst all she had to do.
We can be the same way. We can be peace-filled moms by have the right Ps: Purpose, Priorities, Pursuits, and Practices (Habits).
Let’s begin with PURPOSE. We all live for something that defines who we are. For some of us, it may be the perfect marriage and family. Or, perhaps it’s career and business success. For others, it may be physical wellness and fitness. Still, others may be driving towards a cause that benefits others. Many young people today would say that their goal is to be happy. Those of us who are really ambitious might be pushing to be the supermom, the one who has it all and does it all with excellence.
While these life goals are well-meaning, they aren’t the ultimate. My father has been quoted to say, “The greatest tragedy is not death. It’s living life with the wrong purpose.” If our purpose isn’t right, then we can’t experience real peace.
The only way to know what our RIGHT purpose ought to be is to go back to our designer, the one who made us. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:13-14
As Rick Warren articulated it, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. Its far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions…You must begin with God.”
Some time ago, I crafted my personal life purpose statement: To love God with all my heart, to love others, to lead others to Him and glorify Him with my time, talents, abilities, and resources.
The next P is PRIORITIES. How will you and I know our priorities? If we acknowledge that God is our maker, then our priorities will be in the order of what’s important to Him, such as our relationship with Him, our spouses, and our families. Priorities will also depend on the season we are in. I’m a pregnant mom with five kids. In this season of my life, one of my main priorities is to be available and present in the lives of my kids. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it read, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
To honor my priorities, I’ve had to learn to say NO. In the past, I would feel pressured to say yes to all speaking invitations. I equated spirituality with being busy for the Lord. Then I realized, wait a second! There are so many women out there who can speak on the topic I am being asked to, who have more time to prepare for it and who can do a better job than I can! At this life stage, my family is my first ministry. It’s the ministry God will hold me accountable for.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage — pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically — to say “no” to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephen Covey
Priorities will naturally lead to our PURSUITS. In the chart below, I’ve listed down what these are for me.
Pursuits can still seem very general, so we have to translate these to actual practices, to the habits that we need to be consistent about. Being able to accomplish what we are supposed to can’t happen unless we are disciplined and committed.
For example, I know I need to keep growing in my relationship with God. However, if I don’t put in the effort to dig into His Word and come before Him in prayer, or to learn from spiritual mentors, there’s no way that’s going to happen. I will not grow in my knowledge of the Lord or His will. Nobody can grow spiritually for me. I have to make the daily choice to do this.
Here is my life summarized (and simplified)…PURPOSE + PRIORITIES + PURSUITS + PRACTICES (HABITS):
When we think through what’s most essential in our lives, we can move past the stress of comparing ourselves to others, of wrestling with FOMO, of focusing on our incapacities, or worrying about the future. What a relief to know that God doesn’t expect us to be able to do everything. Instead, He will hold us accountable for what has been entrusted to us––our relationship with Him, our spouses, our children, the people in our circles of influence, as well as our time, treasures, and talents. These are the things that ought to concern us.
During seasons when circumstances and problems become overwhelming, I ask myself, “Do I have the right purpose, priorities, pursuits, and habits?” If I can say yes to this question, then there is peace amidst the stress and imperfection. I can be confident that the Lord will supply where I lack, that He will take care of what’s beyond my control.
When I found out I was pregnant with my 6th, I cried. I didn’t have peace. I was so overcome by the thought that I was too old to be pregnant, that complications could arise, that I had too many other kids to attend to, that my plans had to be put on hold, and that I would be homeschooling until my 50s. It wasn’t until I shifted my focus from myself and circumstances to the Lord that I felt better, that I accepted the pregnancy as a wonderful blessing. God purposed for me to have another child, and He wants me to go through the season of caring for a newborn, training a toddler, and raising another child to know Him and follow Him all over again.
God doesn’t promise that life won’t have its interruptions or stresses, but He does remind us that He is always in charge and in control. I began this entry with a passage in Colossians 1, so it’s fitting to end it with this truth: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) This is the ultimate reason why we can be peace-filled moms. God will hold us together!