As I moved through the buffet line, I tried to choose a well-balanced meal: half my plate for vegetables, one-quarter for protein, one-quarter for carbs. The selection of crisp salads, hot vegetables, perfect roast chicken, fresh bread, and rice made my dinner both healthy and delicious.

I used to think of living a well-balanced life in much the same way, as if I needed to choose just the right proportions of work, worship, and rest, time for family, time for friends, and time for me. My well-balanced life would be much like my well-balanced dinner plate, with a healthy variety of good things.

Only I didn’t always get the right combination. Between full-time pastoring, blogging, and book writing, some weeks I had way too much work and not enough rest. Or lots of family time but no time alone to think. Balance proved to be both elusive and precarious, for as soon as I thought I had it, everything seemed to shift. I found myself more off-balance than on.

Then one Sunday, I discovered a new way to think about balance.

Our guest preacher held up a bike wheel, holding it in the center with one hand and spinning it around with the other. “This wheel is like life,” he said. “Life happens.” And we have a choice to live it out there on the rim where our circumstances and our fears can toss us around, where things may feel out of control, or we can live at the hub, at that still center where we can abide in Christ, who is our peace in the midst of whatever circumstances we face.

“We still work hard,” he said, but instead of focusing so much on our circumstances, we can focus on Christ.

Suddenly I felt lighter. Living a well-balanced life didn’t depend solely on my ability to curate the details of my life. I would still work at that, but Christ at the center would provide the necessary balance even when my life might seem otherwise uncertain and lopsided.

Some weeks I still think the plate of my life seems overly full and unbalanced, but I’m learning to change the metaphor to think of my circumstances out there on the spinning rim of a bike wheel. I’m finding my balance with Christ at the center.

April Yamasaki is the lead pastor of a mid-size, multi-staff church, and the author of Sharing Faith Stories; Christ is For Us: A Lenten Study Based on the Revised Common Lectionary; Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity; Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal; and other books on Christian living. Her main website is Writing and Other Acts of Faith, which features articles on practical spirituality like finding a healthy rhythm of work and rest, and how to pray on difficult days. Her second website is When You Work for the Church: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how we can all do better, with a focus on improving employment practices in churches and other Christian organizations. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @SacredPauses. Websites:
http://aprilyamasaki.com
http://whenyouworkforthechurch.com

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  1. April, this is such a freeing perspective!
    So simple, and yet this eludes me every time as I draw lines that keep moving and fret over details. Thanks be to God that He sees the big picture much better than I.

  2. I love this April! I, too, have tried to achieve balance by apportioning my activities. But that doesn’t always work. So I love the image of the balanced wheel and finding my center in Christ!

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