What does balance look like for you?
This is the question Fearne Cotton asks in her wise, engaging pep-talk of a book, Happy.‘ I’ve been trying to give myself the pep-talk for a while now. You know, the whole self love, self care, self respect kind of pep-talk. (It’s not about being selfish, by the way. I looked at that sentence and saw all those ‘selfs’ and cringed a little, but it shouldn’t be that way. Looking after yourself gets you in a place where you have something to give and where you believe you have something to give. Refusing to practise self care and self respect, in my experience, have the opposite effect to making me more loving, kind and generous.)
Back to Fearne’s question, though. What does balance look like for me? My gut instinct reaction was one word: love. When my life and health are in balance, I am free to give and receive love, to live and breathe love. When I really look at the essentials of life, it all just comes down to love.
It sounds a little cheesy or wishy washy perhaps, but for me it’s not: my purpose, my strength, my joy and raison d’etre can all be summed up in that one word.
I guess as a Christian, it’s a concept I’ve grown up with, the idea that we are made out of God’s love, saved by his love and called to love him and others.
In theory, it is simple, but is it that easy in practise? I don’t think it’s easy – it requires constant sacrifice and effort and remembering – but it does make life simpler. When I think that my one aim in the day is to do things with love and because of love, some of the pressures and expectations I put on myself diminish. I can take each moment with more peace, more self acceptance and perhaps more contentment.
My biggest challenge right now is battling the inner voice that berates myself for all the imperfections and failings of the day, the voice that fears the pressures and pitfalls of the week, the voice that worries that I am not enough. And my weapon of choice in this struggle? The simple act of remembering it’s all about love. When my children stretch me beyond what I thought I could take, it’s that one word, love, that gets me through. When I look around my house and see only the mess piling up, I look instead for the signs of love. When I go to work and feel a failure, I remind myself that if I’ve shown love to even just one person, my day will not have been in vain. When I start my day after a sleepless night with no time for coffee and unwashed hair, it is love that carries me through.
Of course, the hard question is what happens when that love gets drowned out? Fortunately, it’s a hard question to ask, but an easy one to answer. When my negative inner voices are winning, there are invariably the kind words or actions of others who love me to pull me back. Or the still small voice of God through nature or books or music.
So, it really does, always come back to the one thing we can’t live without: LOVE.
Happy Valentine’s Day!