Sunday, November 21, 2010

Elegance is Overrated

By Helen Lee

I am quite possibly the clumsiest person on the planet. The first time I tried to park our family’s car in the garage, I drove it into the side of the house instead. (And then I proceeded to do it AGAIN when I backed up and started over.) I had to walk out on an ice rink to give flowers to the winners of a hockey tournament and even though I told myself every step of the way, “Don’t fall. Don’t fall. DON’T FALL!”—well, you can guess what happened.

No, the words “graceful” and “balance” do not fit me well, whether it applies to physical coordination or “life” coordination. My life would likely qualify as being as unbalanced as you could imagine. For starters, I am a stay-at-home mom of three little boys. On top of that, I’m a homeschooling mom. I spend long days running a household while acting as my children’s teacher/music coach/cafeteria worker/janitorial staff. My life is entirely imbalanced…from a certain point of view.

In years past, this type of home-based weightiness stressed me out. I’d watch friends who were doing exciting things in their careers and lives, and I couldn’t help but be envious. Yes, I’d chosen the life I was leading, but I still longed to experience more of and do more for the world beyond the walls of my house. The possibility of balancing my life seemed as elusive and impossible as my being able to gracefully descend a flight of stairs in a glittering gown and 3-inch heels.

Then one day, I had a conversation with a wise friend, Grace Shim, who serves with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Thailand. As I recounted my feelings about the imbalance of my life, she made a comment I will never forget: “Helen, you don’t have to achieve balance every day or even every week. Think about achieving balance over the whole course of your life.”

That comment has helped me rethink my former notion of balance; that it’s not necessarily about having a 24-hour period neatly divided between God, home, work, church and other important areas. By necessity, some seasons of life will be more home-focused, or more church or work-focused, but there will indeed come a season that I will have freedom to engage in a broader range of activities.

In the meantime, I need to embrace the commitments I have made with an attitude of joy and gratitude. If I am staying true to the callings God has given me—and letting go of the rest—I can trust that he will bring all of those things I can’t do in my current stage of life to completion through his other servants in the world.

This, by the way, does not mean that I will never trip up in my efforts to maintain the particular weights in the balance of my own life. Nor does it mean that I will never feel out-of-sorts with the way my life is going at any particular time. But if I am striving to follow the Lord of the universe in my life choices, then I do not need to fear my inevitable stumbles along the way. And God knows with my proneness to ungraceful elegance, that is a very good thing.

Helen Lee is the author of The Missional Mom (Moody Publishers, January 2011). She and her family reside in Chicagoland. You can find out more about Helen and her book at

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