Are You Unbalanced? Three Questions

How the battering ram got into my laundry room, I do not know, but one thing was for sure--it wanted out.

The hammering began suddenly, and quickly escalated in volume and intensity. I heard the sound from the back of the house and was on my feet before I had time to process it. By the time I reached the laundry room, however, I'd identified the source of the noise and flung myself toward the washing machine in an effort to silence it as quickly as possible.

You guessed it--overload.

Earlier that morning I'd filled the washer with a week's worth of damp, smelly towels. For a while they'd swished around quietly, but when the washer ceased its gentle agitation and switched to the spin cycle, the fun began.

Although I had evenly arranged the towels in the washtub and put in what I thought was a manageable number, the agitation of the wash cycle had rearranged the contents. When the spin cycle began, the towels, heavy with water, became unbalanced. 

Lopsided, the washer struggled vainly to compensate as it knocked across the floor. Had the process gone on much longer, the machine would have been seriously damaged.

Sometimes, much like my washing machine, I, too, become unbalanced.

Although I try to make wise decisions about how to spend my time and energy, the demands of marriage, motherhood, work, civic, and church responsibility combine to create a heavy load. I juggle it for a while, until one component shifts and causes the whole load to tilt. The alarm sounds, and I face a choice--make some changes or risk serious consequences. Often those consequences threaten my health, relationships, or spiritual life.

So what are we to do when our lives become unbalanced?

We do what I did to my washing machine:

1.  Assess the problem. I had placed too many heavy items in one load. Our lives become out of whack for the same reason.

If you have young children at home, they require a tremendous amount of care. So do teenagers. This may not be the time to undertake a demanding project, a position with increased responsibility, or a role that requires long hours of uninterrupted concentration. It's important to recognize that motherhood is a season of life that usually causes us to scale back outside commitments. Realizing that it is a precious season that will pass quickly helps us to keep the proper perspective.

It's helpful to periodically take a thoughtful, prayerful look at our commitments. Determine what it is that has caused our lives to become unbalanced. Is there a relationship that has become more needy? A role that has become more complicated? A job that has increased in responsibility?

Ask yourself: What would it take for me to feel less overwhelmed and more efficient? Spotlight this area and move to Step 2.

2.  Redistribute. I pulled the whole load of soggy towels out of the washer to determine what was out of balance. Then I redistributed them in a more balanced way. We can do this in our lives as well.

While we often prefer to do it all ourselves, an honest assessment can help identify which parts of our load to reassign. If carpool duties are overwhelming, can you pair with another mom to share the driving? If you can't find time to run errands or pay bills, is there a teenager you can hire as a mother's helper for a few hours a week to free you up? Perhaps she'd also be willing to tackle some simple housekeeping tasks you just haven't had time to do. If you're longing for some "me time," would your husband be willing to put the kids to bed a few evenings a week so you can have time to read or catch up on email correspondence?

Ask yourself: In what areas do I need help? Then prayerfully ask God to show you who can come alongside you.

3.  Remove. After I pulled the soggy towels out of the washer, it was apparent that they constituted too heavy a load for my washer to handle. Sometimes our lives are like this, too.  We add responsibilities one at a time, and each one by itself isn't overwhelming. The cumulative effect, however, is another story. 

If we find ourselves sacrificing sleep, one-on-one time with our husbands, or consistent times of prayer and Bible reading, our plates are too full. Failing to pare down will inevitably lead to a breakdown somewhere.

While we prefer to think we're indispensable, the truth is that we're not. Assuming or continuing in responsibilities when the Lord has shown us otherwise can cause us to become ineffective, stressed, or discouraged. It can also keep someone else from stepping up, because we're doing it all. 

Ask yourself: What has God called me to do that no one else can do in this season of life?

Compare this to your list of activities and responsibilities. You'll probably find many good things on the list. Some of these good things, however, compete with and distract from the primary responsibilities to which God has called you. These are the ones to remove. 

"The good is the enemy of the best," writes theologian Oswald Chambers. Restating his observation in the form of a question causes us to ask, What good things are keeping me from doing what is best in my life right now? Answer honestly, then say no to anything that keeps you from pursuing God's best.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, take time soon to prayerfully assess, redistribute, and remove. You'll be glad you did.

In what ways have you had to assess, redistribute, or remove? How has it worked? Leave a comment below and join in the conversation. If you're reading by email, click here to comment.

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  1. Lori,
    I read your devotion at Christian Devotions US. I enjoyed it and decided to check your blog. The post about being unbalanced it terrific. I especially like that you give tips on how to improve the situation. Well done! Very attractive too! I am subcribing now.

    1. Welcome, Linda, and thank you for your kind words. So nice to have you as part of the family :)

  2. You've got some great thoughts and questions to ask, Lori. I always enjoy visiting your blog and seeing your heart to help women in their lives and marriages. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Beth!

  3. Lori...loved this! I have found we need to step back and reevaluate our lives from time to time. So glad you shared this at WJIM. Have a blessed week.

    1. I love interacting with your sweet blogging community, Naomi :)

  4. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Good one,Lori. (OF COURSE THEY'RE ALL GOOD.)

  5. Lori,
    Thanks for the "how to" advice that can restructure our time when daily life becomes unbalanced and overwhelming.

    1. It seems like a battle we fight often, Buffy. As women, we try to do it all. I often think of Jesus, who "did always those things that pleased the Father," (my goal), yet was never rushed. I think his morning prayer times, where he got his marching orders for the day, were the key. Thanks so much for commenting, and for sharing my post today :)

  6. Your blog is such a blessing to me. This post, I really needed. Wow!

    Ashley from

    1. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Some days this is my mantra! Blessings to you today, Ashley :)

  7. popped by via Cindy's as you said you wanted some snow, you can have some of mine as well!!

    Gill in Canada

  8. Oh my goodness, SO TRUE! And my laundry makes some scary noises when it is unbalanced. :/

  9. Love the laundry analogy- seems my whole life is laced with laundry :) And this is such a practical reminder to choose wisely so we don't live empty full lives. Found you through the Mom Initiative today- glad to stop by here.

  10. Lori, thanks for linking this up with us over at Courtship Connection. What a great, practical article about something that I think is a constant struggle for moms - balancing everything!

  11. Beautiful post! I'm starting to wonder if I'm unbalanced, and yes, I am. Got to work on figuring out how to balance again...and I'll be using your thoughts.

    Thank you.

  12. Wonderful post.
    What am I called to do that NO ONE else can do right now?

    Such an important question.
    Thank you

  13. This is an excellent illustration of being out-of-balance. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. I always love your devotionals! Thanks so much for sharing at Thriving Thursdays!

  15. Thank you for this post...dealing with this presently...this was an answer to prayer :)