Seeking Rhythm Over Balance

The other morning I brought our car to the mechanic. Luckily, we live in a small enough town where I can drop the car off and walk back without having to wait. I took the long way home, admiring the changing leaves and bright clouds. Taking a few detours to hear my shoes crunch the leaves.

It’s one of my favorite sounds.

Something magical happens during fall. The clouds turn wild shades of blue and split into crazy patterns, letting just enough light to shine through. It all creates a soft glow that hovers above the pavement. The air is crisp, I move a little quicker to stay warm. The landscape feels like a painting or photograph verse my everyday life.

On my way back, I walked through the old cemetery. It’s become my favorite place to walk. I used to find it creepy and strange that this old cemetery was basically in our backyard but now I love it. It has lots of windy paths and big trees. It sits right in the middle of four busy streets so you feel protected and safe. It’s like my own secret garden and place of rest.

While walking the paths I spotted my neighbor. I thought about waving and walking up to him but instead took a different route. I let him be, knowing this was his morning routine. Everyday he walks these paths, typically wearing a blue baseball cap. I wondered if he and his wife used to do this or if it became a ritual after she passed.  

I don’t feel close enough to ask him these questions but I still wonder. I wonder the story behind his walk. The significance of this routine. And it got me thinking about my own rhythms, the things I do on repeat to keep well.

The corner of the couch where I always sip my coffee in the morning.

For a long time, I sought balance. I still do at times. I want things to have their proper place. If responsibilities and commitments were baskets lined on the floor, I want each basket filled to the same height. I want to be pouring into each thing with equal effort and energy. I don’t want to leave anyone or anything behind.

And when I can’t or I fail, I grow frustrated with myself and assume I’m not trying hard enough.

This is a belief I’m working hard to release. Because I’m learning that balance will not always happen. There are times I pour into life's baskets differently. Sometimes home responsibilities take the back burner to meet a work deadline. The words get written and the dishes stay dirty. Laundry piles high in our bedroom and dinner is a random assortment of this and that.

I often struggle to articulate what I need and why, rhythms remind me how to listen. I’ll feel something is off, the stirring of restlessness or discontent, so I follow it like an arrow. I follow where it leads and how it got there. Sometimes it’s easy to find and other times I’m on a wild goose chase and end up loss. One things for certain, the journey is always worth taking.

Sometimes writing waits so I can sit on the porch with a neighbor or the carpet with a friend and her fussy baby. Sometimes certain people get more focus and energy as they walk through dark, difficult seasons. And because I feel things deeply, pouring into someone with my whole heart requires a pulling away too.

I find comfort in reading the rhythms of Jesus, how he’d often go up on a mountaintop or into the wilderness to be alone and pray.

There’s a choice we make to trust the quiet. To pull away without fear of lagging behind. Often this writer's life feels like a train in motion and I can either jump on, keeping relevant and timely, or wait at the station and miss out on all the good things. Meanwhile, there are stories to be found at the station. Ones that might be my reason for writing at all.

So balance might not be the word for me but honoring rhythms is. Rhythms are possible and worthy of my attention. They are tightly bound to the way we are made and how we’re designed. They help me move confidently throughout the world to share my offering.

Rhythms keep me tethered and remind me of my dependency on God.

I often struggle to articulate what I need and why, rhythms remind me how to listen. I’ll feel something is off, the stirring of restlessness or discontent, so I follow it like an arrow. I follow where it leads and how it got there. Sometimes it’s easy to find and other times I’m on a wild goose chase and end up loss. One things for certain, the journey is always worth taking.

I’m still learning what this all means. It's not going to look the same in every season because life isn’t static. Our needs change. The people around us change. Circumstance might look and feel a certain way now but just like fall, the leaves change and the air turns crisp, so we adjust and pivot. The transition might be hard but in time we find our footing again. We release the guilt of fumbling or growing weary and simply accept that we’re needy.

Our limitations are the cracks in the pavement where new life grows.

In time, we find our favorite path to walk and the familiarity becomes comforting rather than mundane. We find those recipes that ground and nourish us and the relationships needing tending to. We find that book we read once but need to read again. We see a verse leap off the page and decide it’s time to listen rather than ignore it and move on.

We settle in and find our new rhythm for right now. The one that resides within the chaos and the peace, the satisfaction and the waiting. I want to honor it as sacred without smothering it. I want to hold it loosely. Not because it lacks importance but because the interruptions and the detours, the taking the long way home, teaches me more than striving for balance ever did.