I was watching a squirrel as he climbed onto the end of a rather thin tree branch. The next thing I know he is leaping through the air and onto an equally thin branch on a neighboring tree. He then made his way to the fence which he traversed like an expert tightrope walker.
It was awesome to watch. All during his journey I noticed that he was making constant adjustments to keep his balance. Sometimes he was extremely deliberate while at other times he moved with ease.
After watching this I thought it was a great picture of our lives. At least that’s how my life feels at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly trying to keep my balance in life.
One moment I’m feeling great about life and about myself. The next, I’m down in the dumps and frustrated with what life has thrown at me. Sometimes the chance in outlook is overnight but usually it happens gradually.
It is a natural part of life to have some lows and some highs. But, barring clinical depression, the lows can be mitigated if we can find balance in our lives. What balance looks like will be different for everyone but it is necessary for all.
If you are constantly on the go, whether it be from work or family obligations, you will eventually crash. If you are like me and often find yourself with too much free time, you can get down if you don’t find something productive to do.
Either extreme is unhealthy and we need something to counterbalance it.
Some people need consistent exercise while others need time alone. Some people need to hangout with friends while others just need a break from work. Or any number of things.
As a Christian, one of the greatest tools for finding balance we have at our disposal is our relationship with God. I know that when I am spending time with God on a daily basis I don’t have nearly as many extreme lows.
I still have them, because like I said earlier lows are a part of life. But when I am close to him those down times are easier to get through.
As an addict, these lows can be dangerous to me. In those dark or low times, I am the most tempted to act on my addiction. This is why I try to avoid them by reading the Bible, reading devotionals, listening to worship music and praying to stay close to God.
During those times I need to do the same things and more or I will really be struggling more than I have to. Most of this I have written about before but is a good reminder. I know I need reminded often.
For me, the best thing is to give my brain something to focus on besides what is making me feel down. A lot of times the down feelings switch to addictive thoughts. In either case, I read or listen to a book, podcast or sermon. I do the preventative things I talked about also.
I have heard Rick Warren say that in order to stop a thought you have to change the thought. The human brain can only think about one thing at a time. If you are focusing on a sermon or even a bible verse it’s a lot easier to avoid the thoughts you don’t want.
The bible says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6-7
Prayer is a very powerful tool and weapon during my struggles. There have been times that I have taken the above advice and felt peace. Not always because I usually wait too long to take advantage of this promise.
Other times I will tell the thoughts to stop. I will yell STOP! Sometimes the thoughts telling me I’m no good or trying to get me to act out are from the devil. He needs to be told to stop also. According to the apostle Paul, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
In Matthew 14, as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water. But the moment that Peter allowed the World to enter into his mind’s eye, he sank. I don’t want to sink. I can’t swim.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. – Hebrews 12:2 MSG
These are just a few things that help me keep my eyes on Jesus. I hope you find them helpful too.