Some days it feels like I’m crawling through mud to get to the end of all that is required of me before I can rest. But on other days, the mud arrives first thing in the morning and I am lost. I flit around from one thing to the next before my work day is to begin — laundry, bible study, email, photo processing, dogs in, dogs out, dogs in…, etc. — and then I get frustrated because I am out of time and I’ve lost my coffee.
On such a morning recently, I found my cup by the back door (obviously set there during one of the in and out and in and out dog games we were engaged in), but it was sitting right in front of my print about grace and non-perfection, and it was just the reminder I needed.
“I don’t believe there’s such a thing as real balance,” I told a young woman recently. “If you have your hierarchy in place, how can it be a balance? I have started referring to it more as ‘doing the best I can.’ You take each day one at a time and you do what you need to do in that day.”
Now, this from the girl who still tries in earnest to create a balanced life. I want my family time and my friend time and my work time and my volunteer time and my writing time and my creative time to all have EQUAL time. Doesn’t that just crack you up? It makes me laugh because as I write this (on a day I know I won’t be able to finish and share because this day is super full and I won’t get back home until late at night), this day’s plans have changed three times. But I still think balance is elusive at best, and forever unattainable at worst.
A friend recently dropped me on Facebook, apparently just to see if I’d notice.* (I was fasting from FB while she did it, so the results she hoped for are a little skewed…) I did notice, but no, not right away. I no longer live my life online, on social media, but also trying to create balance of time to spend with each person — whether it be in real life or on their timeline — becomes more stressful than it should be. When it comes down to it, we cannot know all the things with all the people all the time. It’s not realistic, and it’s unfair to assume others should. But within our own little worlds, we get that idea into our heads, and then we create drama where there should be no drama.
We often have this idea that despite our own failings, others should be living to a standard of perfection that includes not failing us. How many times have you meant to call someone back and you lost the day? How many times did you think you responded to a text only to discover it still sitting there two days later, not sent? How many times have you forgotten about midday that it’s still the same day and you’ve got miles to go? How many times do you drop the ball and run out of groceries, pay the bills late, or let the dishes pile up until you’re using plastic picnic butter knives to stir your coffee?
Why can’t we just accept that we’re human, not superhuman? Why can’t we look at others and offer grace, remembering they are struggling with everyday life the same way we are?
Does anyone else ever get that deer in the headlights look of panic when someone new suggests a coffee date? The first thought that often pops into my head is: How do I even? I barely see the daughter who lives in the same house as me, so how do I fit in someone new?
Some of my closest friends get it. This is probably why they are some of my closest friends. They are busy — I am busy. Busy is not an excuse but rather … it’s life. When I see people say, “If you are really important to someone, they’ll make time for you,” I find that to be one of the most assuming and untrue statements ever. Survival is happening in most of our lives — we can’t just not go to work. We can’t just stop going to school. A life well-made is a busy life, and yes, we do have to weigh each relationship carefully, but it’s unfair to compare your every day to another’s.
So no, maybe there isn’t any kind of real balance. Some days, we’ll get through like life is easy. Other days, we’ll trudge through the muddy trenches, carrying a load of emotions and guilt for all the things we didn’t get done, and more for all the relationships we didn’t connect with well, but if we keep remembering grace for ourselves and each other, perfection can leave the equation.
We’re all doing the best we can, and that’s OK.
*PSA: If you want someone to know something that is going on in your life, share it personally. Don’t post it on social media and get upset when it’s not stumbled across by that person. Don’t allow social media to be your one-stop news-of-your-life sharing spot. Don’t forget that people live outside of their computers. Grace, grace, grace.