How will I do it all? How do I balance life and family and work?
I don’t believe in balance.
I don’t believe in balance because I cannot find it anywhere in Scripture. Achieving perfect balance is impossible. It’s a losing game. Instead, what I see in God’s Word is surrender and obedience.
Matthew 6:33 “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
As we truly become single-minded in our pursuit of God and whatever He wants for us, everything else shifts into place.
I remember early in ministry, we were sitting in our backyard. My husband, Zac, and I were looking over at our new trees that we had just planted. There were three of them, and we were anxious for them to grow because we didn’t have any shade in our backyard. We were noticing they were starting to grow almost too fast, and we began wondering if we planted them too close together. The same time we started IF:Gathering, we also adopted our youngest son, and I was writing and speaking, as well. Nobody on this earth would say that was wise! Each endeavor was big and important, but when tangled together,
it was a recipe for disaster. Like my new trees planted too close together, if they all grew and succeeded, we were going to have a disaster in five years.
I remember looking at everything and saying to God, “I don’t know what’s coming, but it looks like it could be a massive train wreck.” I needed God to help me manage all of these growing things. I told Him if He ever wanted me to walk away from anything (other than my kids) I would do it. So we surrendered it all. We intentionally sought out counsel from a few voices in our lives who had full perspective. We would lay down our schedules, our finances, our struggles in marriage to these people and ask them to speak into our lives.
Some of these people were friends, some of them were mentors, and some of them are family members. This little group of people knew that they were my people. To be honest, I thought they were going to tell me to stay home and to not do these things. But they often told me that I was living in fear, and I needed to go and be more courageous. They didn’t lean to one extreme—stay home with your kids or take every opportunity that comes your way. They looked at my life holistically to see what I was struggling with, how my kids were doing, and they had an ebb and flow to decisions. I think we all need those voices that are helping us make decisions.
As I’ve surrendered and obeyed, balance hasn’t come. Our lives are still chaotic. But peace has come to our family. People ask how we raise and launch kids who are healthy and love Jesus when we have so many demands on our life, and I don’t know! We have prayed and submitted to God, and He has shown up time and again. Some days the trees got tangled up, and it looked like we were completely destroying our lives.
We can either put our children at
the center of our family, or we can have them join the circle and put
God at the center.
If you’re a parent or caretaker, lean in here. Somebody gave us advice early on that we can either put our children at the center of our family, or we can have them join the circle and put God at the center. You can serve together as a team. We decided that is how we were going to raise our kids. Whether they have a game or they’re going on a mission trip or they’re going to college, they are going as an ambassador of our family and our Jesus to love and serve the world. Parenting felt like a big experiment. We raised our kids very differently from the way I saw people raising kids beside us. I was worried that we were going to ruin them!
But now that we have two grown kids, I can see that they love God and people and they don’t see their lives as something to be spent on themselves. They see their lives as something to be stewarded for the glory of God and the good of others. They like God and they like us. That’s all we really want at the end of the day for our kids, isn’t it?
Surrender and obedience is a costly practice that takes constantly seeking God and dependence on him. As we do that, He takes care of us. He is faithful to us, and He will show us the right way to go. You won’t look around and find many people living this way. You will find a lot of life plans and a lot of strategic ways to do life better. But I will say it is the most life-giving way to live.
I know there are a million demands on your life. Whether you have a family under your roof or not, you live a demanding life. I would just encourage you today to sneak away, get with God, pray, lay it all out before him, and surrender it again. There is something in the surrender that breaks the anxiety. There’s something in the surrender that calms the chaos that cuts through the noise. As I live moment by moment with him, He
is in it with me, even though it’s messy.
- Jennie Allen
Get Out of Your Head: A Study in Philippians
Jennie Allen inspires and equips us to transform our emotions, our outlook, and even our circumstances by taking control of our thoughts. Our enemy is determined to get in our heads to make us feel helpless, overwhelmed, and incapable of making a difference for the kingdom of God. But when we submit our minds to Christ, the promises of the goodness of God flood our lives in remarkable ways.
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