Teeter-totters on my childhood playground fascinated me. I knew nothing of physics, but I
observed that the heavier child needed to slide nearer the center of the board in order to have a balanced ride. Some danger was involved.* If an uncooperative playmate jumped off mid-flight without warning, his counterpart crashed to the ground. Adding more children to the equipment increased the load and required experimentation to get the equilibrium right.
In my adult life, I sometimes feel like I am riding a teeter-totter. I am having fun, but I struggle to get the work-home-ministry connections in balance. If someone bails out on me, or I add something to the mix, I am forced to adjust. This piece of playground equipment and my experience of working outside the home for 25 years show me that true balance is constantly fascinating, sometimes frightening and always fragile.
Starting work required creative experiments to achieve balance in my commitments. Praying for wisdom is always helpful in these situations. A thankful heart for God-given circumstances is key to a good attitude. My part in daily vacation Bible school switched from classroom assistant to refreshments baker. I couldn't host every itinerant missionary in my home, but I had an international mission field in my office. Instead of assembling care packages for college students, I donated postage money from my new income to send the parcels.
I quickly realized that I could not do it all. Discussions with my husband about our priorities were very important. Sacrifices were made for the sake of balance. I was able to pay for our children's tuition so that they could switch from public to Christian school. But, my husband had to step in to care for them on summer vacations while I was at work. At first, being a working woman, with all my important meetings, seemed glamorous. Then, I started missing the spontaneous meetings my church friends were enjoying.
I saw that excuses for unbalanced areas followed me from my stay-at-home life to the workplace. Repentance was, and still is, needed for these sins. I used to say, "I have so much to do at home that I don't have time to spend with God in Bible study and prayer." Now, I find myself substituting "work" for "home" in the previous sentence. My resentment of others didn't change when my work went outside the home. I think, "Why is she so irresponsible for her part in this ministry? I don't need this. I am busy, too."
Although a work-home-ministry balance is worth pursuing, it is not easily achieved. In addition, I need to monitor what I am doing because life changes all the time. I must employ creative thinking, prayer, sacrifice, repentance, a godly attitude, wise advice and thankfulness as I enjoy the "ride."
* Note: When writing this posting, I searched for a real-life teeter-totter to photograph. I couldn't find one. Are we depriving children of a lesson in balance because it might not be totally safe?