by Karen Berry
Life has been described as “a great balancing act,” but if you are like me, you have off-balance areas in life that bring anxiety and sadness. Some areas even feel a little hopeless at times. Indeed, the past year brought unexpected challenges that made us feel off-track, off-kilter, and off balance spiritually, physically and mentally.
During a quiet moment this Lent, I asked God how to find my balance. He gave me a wonderful image of my younger self donned in a pink leotard, tights, and ballet shoes with my hair tight in a bun. I was passionate about ballet, and ballet is all about balance. Standing at the barre all those years, I remembered feeling strong and centered. God helped me connect my past ability to find focus physically and mentally in ballet to the present way He calls me today to find balance and alignment with Him spiritually in these three ways.
Always start at the barre.
Keep eyes on a focal point.
Transformation takes work and time.
Always start at the barre. A classic ballet class always starts at the barre. Even the top ballerinas in the world still begin with barre work to warm up, check alignment, and become centered. Throughout my life, God has continued to invite me to start the day with Him. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!”
God has used these last few weeks to remind me to start at the barre. Our patient and loving God is finally able to say, “Wow, she listened and accepted the invitation!” because this year for Lent I have set the goal to wake up when the house is completely quiet and spend my first 30 minutes with Him. This commitment is a big sacrifice for me because I am not a morning person. For me, it takes real discipline to be on a healthy sleep schedule, and it is painful for me to wake up even 1 minute earlier than necessary.
But, I must admit that over the last 3 weeks of Lent, my early morning quiet time has been such a blessing. I begin each morning with Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
I find that spending time with God first helps me to check my alignment with God’s will and fills me with peace. Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
I invite you to join me back at the barre; start your morning reading God’s promises and truths. Let His promises sink into your heart so that when trials come, you are still able to stay centered on God.
Eyes on a focal point. Ballerinas know keeping their eyes on a focal point is an absolute necessity. Whether spinning across the floor or holding an arabesque, maintaining precise focus is the key to being able to stay balanced. If their eyes wander even for a second, they run the risk of losing balance, spinning out of control, or falling.
This world tries every trick to knock us off balance and separate us from God. The devil loves to remind us of failures or inadequacies. Jesus quoted Scripture in His time of trial, and you can too. Tuck John 16:33 into your heart to steady you, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus understands this life is hard, because He lived it. He was disappointed, abandoned by ones He loved, was mocked and suffered the unimaginable pain of all sin and death. Because of his focus his Father, even in the midst of trouble, He had a peace that passes understanding.
How did He do it? First, we have to recognize that we all “talk” to ourselves inside our heads through our thoughts. The world encourages thoughts that cause us anxiety, worry. The “what ifs” creep in letting fear overtake faith. The Bible explains how to focus our mind on God. We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. Christ is above all things, so when the doubts and worries come, take hold of them, and use scripture (scripture that is more powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword) to make them fall at the feet of our Lord and Savior. Your Bible is our sword. Let's use it! How? Underline the verses that speak to you. Put God’s word on a post-it note and stick it on your mirror, in your car, and at your desk. Let His truth pour into your heart and soul and stop hearing the lies inside your head that hinder your life.
Transformation takes work. Getting “pointe” shoes is a big deal. Balancing a body’s weight on the very tip of the big toe is a skill that takes practice and also some pain. I remember bloody bandages as my feet got used to the demands of pointe. This ballet transformation, like most skills in life, took work and grit.
Just like in dance, life is a transformation. There are messy parts, painful parts, beautiful part, and even total slip-ups. Some parts are filled with gracefulness and the joy of perfectly balancing on one toe as you reach for the heavens, and other times you feel painfully clumsy. In my life, some days staying on balance is so easy I forgot I am trying; other days I struggle even when I am grasping the barre.
Have you had days like that? Even when reading God’s word and spending time in prayer you still feel completely out of whack? When pain is great and the trials keep on coming and you find yourself asking God when he is going to show up? I sure have.
In ballet, if one struggles with a move, it is broken down part-by-part until one can find the problem. Sometimes it takes going back to the barre to realign. Sometimes is takes a teacher to look carefully and give suggestions.
When feeling off balance, it is time to do some soul searching. Try to pinpoint the where the wobble is in your soul and invite God in to help you work on it. I hope you can use this season of Lent to reflect and ask if there are areas in your life God is calling you to develop so that you can be the best version of yourself. Transformation is a life journey and Jesus promises to coach us, love us, guide us and support us every step of the way.
One of my favorite transformations in the Bible is Paul. He was known for arresting Christians in his former life, was then was reborn and recreated into a powerhouse for the Lord. We continue to see the effects of his transformation as he writes a letter from jail to his friends in Philippi, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do everything through him who gives me strength. So let’s learn from Paul. Through Jesus we can be transformed and made new. As dancers look to a choreographer to learn the dance, we can look to our God, the best choreographer, because He has a good plan for you and for me.
So, let's walk (or dance) into this beautiful day that the Lord has made full of balance and contentment in Jesus.
I praise the mighty name of Jesus, my firm foundation, the solid rock on which I stand. Whether we are in fear of falling, in the midst of falling, or have already hit the ground, help us remember Jesus is the only one who can help us regain our balance.
Lord, give us the strength and discipline to spend time with you each day, and to keep our focus on you during times of balance or wobble. We trust you to transform our minds, hearts and souls to be more like you each day.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2