Balancing the Elephant
Updated: Oct 6, 2018
Dear future little one,
People always tell you that to be a happy, successful, functioning person, your life needs to be balanced. But not just ‘up on a gymnastic’s beam’ balanced. More like ‘up on a tight rope wire juggling with an elephant on your back playing a trombone’ balanced. Somehow in my 24 hour day, I’m supposed to clean my house, work on my relationship with my husband, meditate, fulfill family obligations, hang out with many of my closest friends, buy and prepare food so my family doesn’t die, take time for myself, study my scriptures, improve my talents, and so. much. more.
Like I said: juggling on a tight rope wire with an elephant on my back.
And on top of that, how many Sunday school classes and family discussions did you have growing up based on the scripture in Matthew saying “love thy neighbor as thyself”? So many, right? Great! Not only am I supposed to do all of those things while still getting a solid 8 hours of sleep and drinking 8 glasses of water each day, I’m also supposed to find time to search out others who are struggling and serve them. Don’t get me wrong, service is wonderful and brings a beautiful spirit into your heart and into your home. But some days that elephant is just too hard to balance and the thought of adding one more thing to my load is completely and totally unbearable.
On one particularly unbalanced day, I was so worn out I physically couldn’t get out of bed. I had overworked myself so much that I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I was wondering how in the world I was going to get up and go to work/school all day when I was too tired to even breathe. A comment from church the day before came to mind: someone had mentioned that any time they feel overwhelmed and worn out, they just find someone to serve around them and it gives them the energy to move on! (Again, I’m not knocking service, it’s a wonderful thing) But in that moment, I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. And I realized something.
If I’m going to love my neighbor as myself, I first need to love myself.
I need to make sure that I’m taking care of me so I can take care of other people around me. No, you don’t have to be at 100% before taking cookies to the family next door or offering to babysit for your neighbor while she goes to the doctor. You don’t have to be at the top of your game to help someone else or send a smile their way, but you do need to at least be in the game. I need to be able to function on a basic human level before I can reasonably and healthily expect myself to do things for other.
Yes, sometimes service is the thing that helps you get better; the blessings that come from service are beautiful and invigorating and real. But stop blaming yourself for not being out there one hundred percent of the time. Stop expecting so much of yourself that you fall off that tight rope wire completely.
God knows your heart. And He also knows your limits. Now it’s time to get to know them, too. Love and serve yourself so that you have the ability to love and serve those around you.