Do the laundry, clean the house, mow the yard, vacuum the car, and within no time at all, it is all to be done again. You look around at the progress you made yesterday or only a few hours ago, and it appears you did nothing at all.
When spring comes, go outside, clear away the dead brush and leaves, dig up the weeds, plant flowers, mulch, edge, stand back, wipe the sweat from your brow, hang up your yard hat, think you’ve got a reprieve for a while, and within days, there are weeds and wilted blooms needing to be pinched off.
Admire your neighbor’s perfectly manicured yard, clean windows, trimmed trees, spotless driveway, and sidewalk. Let that neighbor sell and move out. Let another neighbor move in, one without the former neighbor’s diligence, and you cannot believe the house you once envied is now an eyesore.
About any of the above scenarios, we can only shake our heads and ponder this truth:
It’s all about maintenance.
Let one child with cookie in hand get into your car and the vacuuming must be redone.
Let a week go by and your house won’t be Pinterest worthy any longer.
And so it is with our own lives.
We can develop all the good habits we want, be inspired to do better, buy calendars, begin to organize, read how-to books, turn over new leaves, make improvements…
But then, we have to keep up with our progress.
And that can be easier said than done.
Maintain: to keep in existence, keep in appropriate condition, unimpaired.
Over the next four Mondays we explore the principle and importance of “maintenance.”
And “keeping in appropriate condition” is recommended in the Bible.
Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
We will begin with maintaining balance.
The most basic example of this is how we are to stand.
Weight evenly distributed on both feet. Not tilted or slumping to one side. Equal weight on both feet.
Not only does such posture make you look better, more confident, but is also good for your health, because standing straight is better for your spine and all your joints.
I will briefly restate for those who may not know: Six years ago, I was afflicted with a sudden bout with vertigo. I went to four doctors, none of whom could help me, except to say, I had a viral infection in my inner ear.
I pondered: What could help me with balance? And I thought of yoga. I found a Beginning Yoga DVD on Amazon, ordered it, ordered a mat, and set to work. Barbara Benagh is the instructor you want, by the way.
I discovered yoga has a number of “standing poses,” which Barbara said, “are our foundation.” She says, “A steady mind is the product of balance.”
And indeed it is.
What today is “unsteadying” your mind? What is throwing off your balance?
Have you taken on too much work? Do you drive yourself unmercifully, thinking you could get one more thing done today, if you skip a meal, stay up a little later?
Are you expecting more from yourself than other people expect of you?
Here are a couple of lessons I have learned over the years. Believe me, they were hard won lessons and I most certainly did not learn them overnight.
Yes, I know what it is to have panic attacks.
Yes, I sought counseling when I came to believe, “I can’t keep going like this.”
Here’s what I figured out and am still working on.
Some days you have to tell yourself to stop being a wimp, and some days you have to cut yourself some slack and every day is not the same.
That’s where “maintaining balance” comes in.
No, you can’t shirk your responsibilities to your work or your family, but neither can you shirk your responsibility to yourself and your own welfare.
Bless us all. There used to be a philosophy that stated: “It’s better to burn out than to rust out.”
But the fact is, you don’t have to do either.
Read the statement: the end result of both options is the same. Burn out. Rust out. Either way you’re no longer viable and productive, whether you’ve driven yourself into the ground, and can’t go any further, or you’ve sat and done nothing and wasted your gifts and talents.
Here’s my trick: when I am in an impossible situation and have no idea what to do, I say to myself, “If my friend came to me and asked for advice with the same problem I have, what would I tell that person to do?”
And it becomes clear at once.
Be as merciful and wise with yourself as you would with a friend.
You have to maintain balance to keep walking.