There is a house I pass on the way to take my daughter to school that always catches my eye. It’s a stately place, with a columned front porch that could likely fit the entire lower level of my house with room to spare. While the house itself is impressive, though, it isn’t the home that catches my eye. No, when we pass the house every morning, our eyes scan the sweeping front yard for that day’s landscaping marvel.
I can only guess the homeowners have a personal gardener or possibly are avid gardeners themselves. The yard is known oftentimes for its assortment of flowers and plants. On those days, it is filled – literally brimming – with hundreds of flowers. All of them are in pots, always a giveaway to the fact that the arrangement is temporary. One day we’ll drive by in awe of the rainbow of color and variety of flowers, and the next day….nothing. All there will be is grass and the brick-lined beds where the plants once were, bare and waiting for the landscaper to return. It has become a little game for Jennifer and me: “Will they have flowers today? What do you think, honey?”
The homeowners seem to have an “all or nothing” approach to landscaping, and it’s bewildering to me. My own yard is sparse…but it is consistently so. Budgetary restrictions and my black thumb (seriously…not good) prevent our yard from ever being a lush garden of assorted plants. Yes, it is sparse and sad, indeed, but it is always so. If I had the resources and talent to landscape, I know for a fact that I would choose plants that would retain their beauty year round. Evergreens…junipers, maybe. I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I would prefer to landscape in a way that is consistent. Level. Even keel. Predictable and constant.
None of this all or nothing business for me. I don’t buy into that kind of philosophy.
My landscaping philosophy is definitely one of balance. The rest of my life, though….not so much. I tend to run on one end of the spectrum or the other. I’m insanely busy, or I’m wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m elated – loving life and content with where I am in it – or I’m utterly depressed and unable to get out of bed. I’m convinced I am doing the very best job I can as mama and wife….or I’m berating myself for all the ways I’m falling short. I feel like my dreams are possible and within reach, or I feel pretty much like dreaming is pointless.
The “yard” of my life is filled with beautiful flowers….or it’s a desolate wasteland.
Up and down….up and down….. Such is my life. A lot of it has to do with my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety. I recognize that, but the truth is still that I feel as though my emotional state is still far too connected to my circumstances than it is to my eternal condition.
And that’s just it. It’s not so much about the actual CIRCUMSTANCES as it is about how I am HANDLING the circumstances. It’s the climate inside while the storms rage outside. It’s the emotional repercussions of the normal, everyday stuff of life.
As a child of God…a follower of Christ…I can’t help but believe that there is a different kind of existence that is possible for me. I can’t help but believe that what I am living – this rocky roller coaster ride through life – is not all that I was made to live.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
No, this up and down, topsy turvy, rocky and unsteady existence….this can’t be the abundant, full life Jesus came to ensure. In truth, my state most of the time is far more like it was before I entered into a relationship with Christ. When I make a new friend, often habits and things about them begin to rub off on me before long. I’ve been in this relationship with the Lord for almost 10 years. While I know that more about me has changed than remained the same, I still feel that my emotions betray the relationship I have with God. He is a rock….but me? I am the very definition of the house built on sand.
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)
It takes nothing for me to crash to the ground. This pursuit of balance……it’s about making my life match up with what I believe. It’s about believing the promises of the One I love so much, and about rebuilding the foundation of my life on the One who I know loves me.
This is the second post in a month-long series on Balance. For other posts in this series, click here.
(Note: Those of you who know my family may be confused by my reference to Jennifer. As my girl gets a little older, I’m giving her a pseudonym anytime I reference her in my online space. When I asked her what name she would want if she could have any name in the world, she said Jennifer. So Jennifer she shall be! Here, anyway….)