I’m a junior in college and life is pretty crazy. I’m certain that once I graduate, life will be even more hectic. There are so many events to attend and classes to stay awake in (which I do) and homework to finish and people to catch up with. And not to mention making sure I have daily prayer time. While I can’t claim that I have five kids, a husband, and a household to take care of, I still have my fair share of things to accomplish. How in the world are we supposed to balance our commitments, obligations, and the things we want to do?
I would love to say that I lead an incredibly balanced lifestyle with enough time in the day to accomplish everything on my to-do list in regards to my health, academic, social, and spiritual life.
But I’m confident that the people reading this would most likely roll their eyes and read some other blog not written by a liar.
No, I will willingly admit that I fail, sometimes daily, at leading a perfectly balanced life. Most days, I feel more like this elephant:
I know that a common view to have is the “I just don’t have enough time in the day!” Some people wish that we had 30 hours in the day instead of 24. I say, no way would I want that. That’s six more hours where I’ll most likely feel guilty about not using the time well, or running around busier than ever. God gave us the perfect amount of time. If we don’t get everything accomplished that we would like, that is just fine. It’s really not a sin to not finish everything on your to-do list. God doesn’t look down on you for it, or look at you like you’re a disappointment to Him because you didn’t make a gourmet dinner. It is ourselves who get frustrated at our own perceived failure. It is because I see accomplishing all of these things as a type of success, but I forget that I’m not on this earth to be personally successful. I am here to love. To love God and love those around me.
Leading a balanced life is something that I believe I’ll be learning all my life. But it is so fruitful to have a good grip on it as early as possible, especially in college, which is such a hectic environment. Like I’ve said in previous posts, sticking to a rigid schedule isn’t a good thing, but making sure you have time to get in exercise, the homework that is most pressing, and having a good, long chat with God, without ignoring all other people is essential. From here on out, life will probably only get busier. There will be many things to do, see, accomplish, and try. There will be people to meet, love, laugh with, and say goodbye to. If you are balanced in your own life, it radiates out to other people. If you look like you’re busy all the time, it is not a welcoming sign to strangers or even friends. I want people to feel peaceful in my presence and feel like my attention is focused solely on them, not the person I’m trying to text just to tell them some “important” detail. But if you don’t lead a balanced life or even have some type of schedule, on the other end of the spectrum, it breeds slothfulness. We need a certain amount of self-discipline in our daily lives, or we will get too content with comfort.
I think that the most important way to have a balanced life is to remember that God, and the nurturing of your spiritual life is not simply an area of your life to be checked off a to-do list every day. It should be all encompassing, and should spill over to all areas of your life. Maybe I don’t have 25 minutes everyday to sit quietly to contemplate all of the incredible blessings that God has given me, but I do have ten minutes in the shower to have a conversation with Him about the upcoming day and time for a quick stop in the Adoration chapel on my way to class. This isn’t to say that we should never set aside time specifically for Christ, but He should be in every area of our life, not just be one area of our life. If that happens, we will feel more satisfied and peaceful. And with that, we will have more strength to carry out our other tasks well. We can try to lead a balanced life without God, but it will most definitely be a struggle. It will come with frustration, greed, and exhaustion. But God is a generous giver. In Psalm 127:2 it says,
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
I love that verse. “He gives to His beloved sleep.” We are His beloved, and to Him, we aren’t failures. He has given us rest and relaxation to use, not to reject for more “successful” pursuits. Sometimes discouragement can be the biggest obstacle for me to overcome to get what I need to done. I need to remember that His love overshadows every other thing, including my disappointment in myself.
So, lead a balanced life as best you can. What helps me is getting things done in the morning.
If I plan for my time to exercise and pray the rosary in the morning, chances are it will get done more easily than if I had planned for afternoon. Let’s be honest, I’m a college student, but I’m also a morning person. So it is more beneficial to wake up early and get things done so I have more free time in the afternoons. That is when people are actually awake around campus, and I have time for an unexpectedly long conversation with a friend, or meeting a stranger without worrying about my homework for the next day, because it is already done.
Our day to day activities are crazy some days, but embrace them as a challenge. If God is your first priority, then everything else will fall into place. We’ll find time to get our room cleaned, eat healthy, get a good amount of sleep, and go to confession like we’ve been meaning to for the past month. If we let God be in command of our daily lives, exhaustion won’t claim us. We will be able to love and serve and lead a balanced life.