Meditation: Balance and Acceptance
Balance. What a word. Oh Lord, It has been in my thoughts and meditations all this week and last. For years, it has even been at the center of my teaching ministry and my concern for the body of Christ at large. However, it is not even a subject heading (except for the devices used for weighing) in the Naves Topical Bible. From my perspective at least, the need for it seems to exude from every nook and cranny of the your Word. When you told your disciples that the road to salvation was "the narrow road", I think of the balance necessary to stay in the center of the path and not be pulled into either the left or right ditch. I am reminded of when you hung on the cross, that you lay suspended between two thieves (mirroring the ditches of the narrow road) and were fixed there in the center by being nailed in your left and right hand. You hung, balanced in midair, poised above all eternity, and you became the scales that would weigh sin in the balance of your person. Balance. What a word.
The word also has strong personal significance for me as an ADD (attention deficit disorder) adult. I tend to swing between either total concentration and single-minded focus on one hand and a kind of flightiness that can't keep on one thing for 10-15 minutes without interruption on the other. To use a computer analogy, my wife says I am a batch processor and don't do well when I am interrupt driven. As a result, it seems everything in my life is a struggle for balance. My emotions, my focus, my discipleship, my sanctification, my writing, and my study - my everything. Things in my life go from one extreme to the other, total immersion or lack of focus. It is always a struggle for me to maintain a semblance of balance.
Fortunately I am not depressive, or manic-depressive, which is a really difficult balancing act, but instead, I tend to be a raw optimist at heart. I just do things such as work on a project for 14 hours straight or swing to the other extreme where it seems I can't get an hour of meaningful work done. I read 4 books of the bible and then don't pick it up for days on end. I overwhelm my wife with attention and affection or practically forget she exists. I must admit, I am an exasperating person to live with, even to be.
However, I think I finally coming to terms with myself and who I and what I am, and for that I thank you Lord. While my situation might be in the outer edge of the bell curve, making it hard for many people to identify with my particulars, they can identify with the basic sense of the balance I strive for. Lord, as I work out this understanding, it lays the groundwork for the second word I have been thinking about. Acceptance. Another great word.
It is all the rage these days to "accept what you are" and glory in it, even if that means flaunting your sin. While we Christians condemn the world for its reveling in its sin, we have our own extremes and subtle sins that infect us. We are guilty of family and responsibility abandonment on the pretext of ministry demands that we consider so important. Or maybe it is not giving up "my ministry" since what would happen without my effort, as if God was dependent on me alone. This may really be a way to mask pride with display of false responsibility. I know Lord, that accepting "what I am" is not the same thing as "accepting who I am". Please help me to see clearly the distinction between these two things.
I know you expect me to accept the basic traits, talents and things that make me uniquely me: tall or short, skinny or large, fast or slow, quick or measured, witty or pedantic, focused or scatterbrained. This is the material of who I am, who you made me to be. That also means the strengths and weaknesses, the tendencies and leanings of my personality. I have struggle through your grace to realize that all of this is neutral and free from sin. Lord, it is a great thing you have come to show me the last few years. I can accept who I am now, an eternal creation, molded by the loving effort of your hands. Your servant David said it so well, "For you created me in my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." I am me, the me that you made me to be.
But you have helped me to realize that to accept who I am does not mean accepting what I am. I am, Lord, a sinner in need of your redemptive grace. You have taught me to separate sin from style (for lack of a better word). I know at times I am a little on the gruff side or lack social graces, or at least don't express them well. People I meet can be either hyper or phlegmatic in their dispositions. You are teaching me to see that is what they are, and while it may be nice in a particular social climate for them (or me) to change the way they act, their actions and demeanors (or mine) are not in an of themselves sinful. I have found it difficult enough to deal with the sin in my own life, judging myself against myself, as you remind me to do through Paul, writing in Galatians. That effort often leaves little energy for demanded socially niceties, which while important when lacking, are not essentially sinful in absence.
I have come to see that as each stone has its place in a wall, and each word its function in a sentence, so each unique aspect of our personhood has its function in the body of Christ. Peter was mercurial and quick tempered to a fault, while John seems gentle and loving, his head on your breast. They were as different as night and day but each had his purpose in your plan, each had his acceptance in your heart. This realization as helped me understand friendship and the uniqueness of each of us in a way I never grasped before. True friends make only true demands. They may argue over opinions and disagree one another but they only try to get you to change where it matters. A true friends strives to help you to correct the sin in your life, not deny who you are. I struggle to do the same. Walking this road reduces expectations, and allows for the expression of legitimate diversity. One need only glance at the core twelve to see Jesus accepted diversity.
Thank you Lord for how you have brought these two wonderful words, balance and acceptance, together in my life. Continue to teach me how they play off one another as in: Accepting the need for balance only where necessary, which keeps one from demanding balance where it is not required and therefore stifling acceptance, both of ourselves and each other. It could mean fitting each unique aspect of our lives and person into its proper category rather than trying to dump all of us into a golden mean, creating an infinitely reproducible bore. You have made each of different, with areas that need to change, but also with areas that do not, areas that keep us the unique people you created us to be. The key is discerning the difference and looking to you and not the world for insight on which is which. In your grace, Oh Lord, show me.