Embracing a Happy, Happy, Happy {and Unbalanced} Life

As a life coach and mentor, I often feel as though I ought to have my life in total balance. We seem to have become a people that strive after balance in everything…

…balanced relationships with our children and spouses.

…balanced schedules with time for work and rest.

…balanced opportunities to serve and simply have fun.

Balance. Balance. Balance.

Kind of like happy, happy, happy.

But is there such a thing as a happy balance? I thought so, until I heard a preacher passionately declare, “We’re not called to balance. We’re called to love and serve.” I must admit, I bristled at the flippant challenge. What…not pursue balance? Then why I am working so hard toward that end and encouraging other women to do the same? Should I give up on managing my schedule and start living off depleted emotional resources, all in the name of love? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a matter of perspective.

What if we pursued balance in our pursuit of balance?

What if we pursued balance {ahem, margin space} in our pursuit of balance? {click to tweet}

We need to be honest about how we’re spending our time and seek to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16).  Really, how hard is it to honestly look at our schedules and make some healthy, boundary-keeping decisions?  There is value in using evaluation tools, like these, to help figure out what commitments simply need to go, since we can’t do it all and do it well.

When truth speaks to the ideal, healthy and real balance can be embraced. {click to tweet}

When truth speaks to the ideal, healthy and real balance can be embraced.

What we see on paper can help us recognize that our expectations are often not realistic. If we’re perfectly balance in our schedules, we’re likely not leaving room for margin — that blank space in which God can slide the unexpected right into our lives.

I believe that it is in the margin space that God longs to work in us and through us.

We need room in our schedules to respond to His interruptions. Yes, that will make us feel unbalanced as we bristle against Him pushing us to make room for His agenda —  moments like when our sick child requires nurturing or a grieving friend begs for a listening ear.  Yes, these needs throw our life-balance pursuits off kilter. But they also put a different kind of balance back into our souls — a balance between serving our own schedules and serving others with the love of Christ.

These divine appointments make our lives balanced even when our schedules look a mess.

Instead of trying to weigh out all we do in equal measure, maybe we should think of our regular commitments as being all in one basket, with the goal of leaving the other basket empty. This is our margin space — this is the guarded reserves, which we need so that we can respond in emotional balance to the unexpected.

My hunch is that when we live with margin space for the sake of keeping balance in our schedules, we’ll not only be able to love and serve others without feeling stressed out — we’ll find a whole lot of happy, happy, happy — which is way better than balance, balance, balance.

Real life is too messy to be scheduled all the time. It’s like forcing jello back into a mold after you served it up in a dish. It won’t work. Neither will our perfectly printed paper schedules. If our ideal for balance is a schedule that functions perfectly all the time, then it’s time to ditch the ideal for the real . . . the really messy but beautiful life God designed for us to live.

And yes, I’m preaching to myself here, sisters.

Cheers to the unbalanced life,

Elisa Pulliam

Life Coach & Mentor at elisapulliam.com and moretobe.com

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

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  1. says

    Fabulous!!! This really frees me, because before kids (well, even – or perhaps especially – after my firstborn) I was very scheduled and loved that. But with two toddlers I simply cannot make it work. I try – but “real life” upsets it all and that stresses me out. I realize now that I need to embrace the interruptions and recognize them as God’s way to introduce “margins”. Thank you!!!

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      You are so very welcome! I wish I had seen life this way when I had toddlers, so I am so incredibly grateful God is using this lesson to bless you now! Enjoy the margins!

  2. says

    Oh my goodness…yes! I can remember as a young mom homeschooling 5 kids when truth spoke to the ideal of balance in my life and I was free! (Love that quote!) It’s so fun to share that concept with young moms in our mentoring group when they ask how they can possibly balance everything. Their eyes widen when I say, “It’s not possible,” before beginning to explain.

    Balance is kind of a big picture thing, don’t you think? The day-to-day or even weekly schedule may look unbalanced because of who or what needs attention at the moment, but over a longer periods of time it seems to even out.

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Yes, Calista, yes! I totally agree — we must look at the big picture. Love to hear about you mentoring the younger generation, too. May God bless you for serving that way.

  3. says

    As a mother of twins I have struggled with balance from the very beginning. It hasn’t seemed to get easier (the balance thing) so this series along with being very intentional about seeking balance, with a whole lotta prayer, has helped. I am loving this series!


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