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Wow! In just a few more days, it will be April 2016. Where has the time gone? It seems like just last week, we were all wishing one another a “Happy New Year” and resolving to change, to grow, to improve this year, this time. Now, with twenty-five percent of the year already behind us, it is a good time to review some of the goals we’ve set and self-assess our progress.

I am not one for making resolutions, but I do believe in constant self-reflection and self-improvement. Going into this year, I knew there would be more on my plate than usual and I didn’t want to become overwhelmed or all-consumed with the tasks that I needed to complete nor burdened by the many hats I had decided to wear.

Entering 2016, I would be serving in my usual roles as “wife”, “mother of four”, “teacher”, “minister”, and “mentor” but in addition to those, I would be starting my first semester as a graduate student as well a relaunching my community organization for the first time since its inception four years earlier which demanded a concentrated effort as well as mental, physical, and financial resources.

I stepped back to examine everything I had put on my plate. I searched each opportunity and asked God to reveal if there was anything I had picked up that He never intended for me to have. It is possible for us to be doing a “good” thing, but not necessarily a “God” thing. My prayer always is to not allow my resources to be consumed doing something that is not aligned to God’s purpose for my life no matter how good it makes me or even others feel.

I meditated and sought God more. I knew there had to be something I was missing, something I must have been overlooking, something that I could place on hold or on the backburner until my scheduled “opened up.”

There was but one response: balance. I heard the word so clearly. If I was going to be successful, I had to learn to balance my work with my home with my marriage with my ministry with my homework with my social life with my etc., etc., etc.

I thought I had been doing a decent job at this, but the Holy Spirit showed me otherwise. He showed me how I allowed myself to be guilted into saying “Yes” when I really meant “No”. How I had stressed myself by trying to be “in two places at once.” How I had stretched myself so thinly, I could not even find pleasure in what I was doing. And how when it was all said and done, I was “too tired” to spend any quality time with the One who had given me the strength to do everything for everyone else.

I needed to learn balance. I needed to learn to say “No”. I needed to learn to go home at 3:30 PM no matter how many essays still needed to be graded, and I needed to tell myself that it was unacceptable to work every weekend, no matter how much I was being paid. I needed to remind myself that money can’t buy time and that time is the most precious commodity we have. I needed to take time for myself and not feel like a bad mother for doing so, and I needed to ask for help when I felt overwhelmed. I needed to create a realistic to-do list and be okay with only accomplishing one-quarter of it. I needed to learn balance. I needed to work when something important needed to be done, but I needed to rest when I was tired. I needed to take time to plan, but forgive myself when my scheduled took a detour. I needed to stop rushing from place to place in effort to be “done” and enjoy my life and the people in it and understand that as long as I am breathing, there will always be something to do. I needed to learn balance. I needed to learn that I can fill no one if I am empty and in order to pour out to others, I must first be filled.

So as I reflect over the first quarter of 2016, I am thankful for balance. I am grateful for the words “No”, and “I can’t”, and “Maybe next time” and overjoyed at the idea of “rest”, and “reflection, and “rejuvenation”. I have learned to balance my life because I have learned to take care of myself. I have learned that people will always have expectations for me and set standards they believe I should live up to, but I have the final say as to who I will seek to please: God or man. In that, there is no need for balance because there is always just one choice.