Got balance?

Published 10:22 am Monday, July 28, 2014

by Andrew Book

Balance is something that you either have, or you don’t. If you have ever watched a gymnast tumble across a balance beam, you know what I mean. The gymnasts who have balance make flips, twists and cartwheels across a 4-inch wide beam look simple, elegant, and graceful. But then there are those who don’t quite stick a landing. First, they try to compensate by throwing out their arms and lowering their weight. Then the arms start to flail in circles; and if they aren’t able to catch themselves, they quickly find themselves on the floor. A gymnast can tell you that a single wrong step on the balance beam —one inch too far to the left or right — can be disastrous.

My alma mater, the University of Georgia, has one of the top women’s gymnastics programs in the country. Since my time as a student, the Gym Dogs have won nearly half the national championships awarded in the sport. During the years I was in school, they never finished outside of the top three. My first two years at Georgia were national championship years, and I was a big fan. The thing about college gymnastics (at least in the late 90’s and early 2000’s) is that there are a handful of elite programs — programs where the women who have balance compete — and then there is everybody else. About half of the schools Georgia competed against were elite. The others…well…they lacked the balance of our Gym Dogs.

I attended more than one meet where I was mentally pleading with the women from some of these schools to land their flips and jumps, because watching them lose their balance time and again was so painful. I wanted to see the Gym Dogs win, but I also wanted to see the other gymnasts excel. Seeing those around us lose their balance can be painful. Losing our own balance can be even more painful.

I am a firm believer that gymnasts are some of the best athletes in our society today. Yet, even the best lose their balance at times.

Physically keeping ourselves balanced can be tricky. More than that, figuring out how to balance the pieces of our lives so that our lives do not go tumbling to the mat requires special attention. Just as a gymnast needs to be careful to ensure that each step and each hand placement is not too far to the left or the right, so also we need to balance the pieces of our life.

We can easily become unbalanced when one piece of our lives takes over. Work is a common culprit. We begin with good intentions of working a 40-hour week, but 40 becomes 50 and 50 becomes 60 and pretty soon we realize that we have lost our balance and the only thing keeping us from planting our face in the mat is our flailing arms and the hope that we can find the balance beam.

For me, balance in life takes a good calendar, priorities that line up with the different areas of my life which all need attention, and being intentional to make sure all my time does not disappear into work, Facebook, daydreaming or any of a number of time sinks. My hope for you is that you would be intentional about your life this coming week. Use a calendar to help you figure out where to put your foot as you take that next step. Make time for work, but also make time for play, for relationships, for rest and creativity and simply enjoying the beauty around you. Make time to create balance in your life, because a balanced life is a beautiful thing. A balanced life allows you to flip and twist and cartwheel in ways that bring you joy and are a beauty to behold. But, as any gymnast can tell you, balance only comes from practice, intentionality, and focus!

At Courtland United Methodist Church, we are beginning a new series this week, Life = Balance. We are going to be looking at how relationships and play, rest, work, creating and enjoyment are all a part of the life God has called us to. In fact, we see all of these things in how God created the world to be in Genesis 1-2 before sin messed it all up! I hope you will join us in worship Sunday at 11 a.m. Regardless of where you are this Sunday, take time to decide how you are going to bring balance to your life, because a life well lived is a beautiful thing!

ANDREW BOOK is the new pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or