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Posted: March 15, 2018 11:06 a.m.
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Be content by finding balance

The Jewish mystic Maharal observed the word “Shalom” begins with the Hebrew root word “Shin”, indicating God’s peace begins with balance.  From that balance, we can transcend our current struggles and discover the joy, peace, confidence and security of being with God.  However, without the balance that integrates us into being complete people, none can properly live in God’s presence.  Maharal contended that life should be spent seeking the balance point between the unhealthy extremes.  A happy mid-point can bring contentment to life.

 

It is difficult to find balance with either our time or emotions; both are fixed resources that cannot be increased.  Family, friends, work, hobbies, faith, self-care and fitness may be among our demands.  If we give all our effort and time to one area, the other areas will be neglected to the point of failure.  For some of us, the balance between work and family is disproportionately unhealthy.  It is not always long hours that create the imbalance; it can also be stress or emotional investment.  When the demands of work are high, we will naturally have less emotional capacity for family life.  Conversely, when our home life is demanding, our effectiveness at work is significantly reduced.

 

The results of imbalance can lead an over-functioning worker to potentially become an under-functioning member of their family.  If we make important decisions and give maximum performance all day at work, there may be nothing left at the end of the work day, which may allow others, be it friends or family, to make important decisions and compensate for our under-functioning nature in the areas of life outside of work. 

Many Soldiers compartmentalize their work and personal lives in a way that helps them and their families in the short term.  Taken to its extreme, this can be harmful for most of us over time.  Some Soldiers present themselves at work as natural leaders with keen intellects and strong work ethics.  Occasionally, those same Soldiers have miserable home lives and are incapacitated with various struggles.  They seem like two different people, which is not healthy.

Most relationships have partners with complimentary personalities.  In healthy relationships, the partners are near equals, with perhaps one partner being slightly over-functioning and the other slightly under-functioning.  When the relationship shifts out of balance, the one who over-functions is often viewed as nagging or dissatisfied, while the one who under-functions often appears to lack effort or responsibility in making the relationship work.  An unbalanced relationship with either our job or with another person will lead us to disappointment.

The best way to find balance starts with accepting that our relationships to our work and to others will not bring us lasting joy.  When our identity is in our performance, we become enslaved by the illusions of happiness through power and praise.  Lasting joy comes from God who fills us with his peace and confidence from the Holy Spirit.  We have peace when our identity is in him.  When we refuse to deplete our emotional energy in a single area of life, we have the emotional reserve needed to function properly in other areas of our lives.  The healthy balance is found in being fully engaged with both work and family, as well as other areas of life.  This optimal-functioning comes from knowing and respecting our limits.  When we push beyond our limits, we jeopardize our long-term wellness.

Ironically, we train ourselves and others how to behave in the relationships that effect our wellbeing.  When we feel that we need to control another person or abandon our responsibility in a relationship, then we let the scales slip further out of balance and this may lead to disaster.  However, we also have the power of self-discipline to take responsibility for ourselves and provide the freedom for our partners to take responsibility for themselves.  By promoting independence in each partner, a relationship not only finds harmonious balance, it also increases the choice to stay in a relationship rather than feeling trapped in it.  Actively seeking this balance of priorities and responsibilities prepares each of us to experience the peace of God in all areas of life.


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