Living a perfectly “balanced life” sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to tip-toe through life in a state of blissful harmony? But despite our best efforts to maintain equilibrium, life has a way of knocking us down in unexpected ways.
As a boy, I felt great freedom whenever I rode my bike. That all changed the day the Bully stepped onto my street. As I rode by, the Bully reached to the ground, picked up a stone, and hurled it. It missed me, but the evil thing wedged itself into my bike’s front spokes, jamming the wheel to an instant stop. I flipped over the handlebars and flopped onto the side of the road. It was an early lesson in life-isn’t-always-fair.
The turn of the economy, the loss of job, an illness, a death, a betrayal, an illusive goal — these are the things that unexpectedly knock us down. But even when recovery seems impossible, we can always get up; we can find our way back to balance.
You can recover from life’s knock-downs by giving attention to these four principles:
1. Know your center of balance.
Many people are unbalanced simply because they have no awareness of the core values that keep them centered. They’ve never answered the question, “What matters most to me?” The best answers are ones that remain unchanged even when circumstances shift. Your balance should be defined by who you are and who you are becoming (character) rather than who you’re with or what you have (circumstance).
2. Expect to get knocked down.
Inevitably, a bully will show up along your path with a rock in his hand. If you try to convince yourself that you’re somehow immune, reality will eventually teach you otherwise. We all experience unexpected hurts and failures. Be prepared without being pessimistic. Keep focus on your balance, but be ready for rocks.
3. If you fall, take enough time to stabilize.
Once you’ve experienced a fall, you can choose to respond in one of three ways: denial (ignoring your distress), obsession (continuously focusing on your distress), or healing. Healing, of course, is the preferred choice. Give yourself enough time to recover. Your healing may come in hours or years, but let it happen. If you can’t do it alone, get help.
4. Return to your balance.
Find your way back to your core values. Whether your circumstances have changed for better or worse, you can regain your balance. There is a proverb in the Bible that says “A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). We should be defined by our recoveries, not our falls.
As a child, despite the Bully’s taunts and laughter, I got back up on my bike and rode away. Over twenty years later, I experienced another bike fall when my front wheel broke loose during a race and required an ambulance ride to the hospital. Even so, I’m over 50 now and still enjoying my bike. Falling down doesn’t mean staying down.