It seems like when I speed up to get caught up with the things I have going on in life, the faster they seem to come at me. Sometimes my life reminds me of the famous I Love Lucy episode where she is working on the assembly line at the chocolate factory, and as she starts to get the hang of it, the conveyor belt is turned up and she can’t keep up despite her best efforts. That feels like my life. Being a husband, father, friend, coach, teacher, mentor, son, brother, and follower of Christ can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Yet I also feel like lately God has been helping me come to the realization that it isn’t my job to keep juggling everything.
Here’s what I mean. In all the juggling I do in my life, I feel like I am often guilty of trying to be a simulated savior for the people I try to serve rather than pointing them to the only one who can be everything they need. And as I’ve thought about this, I’ve noticed two major lessons I believe God has been teaching me:
1. Life will never slow down enough for me to juggle everything.
I am 33 years old, married to a wonderful woman, we have 3 amazing children, and I am a high school teacher and coach. People always say that this phase of life will be the busiest time of my life.
But I remember thinking when I was just out of college that life would finally slow down. I thought, “We have small children, and this will be a time when we can simplify things, take care of the kids, and just smell the roses and take it all in.”
Of course, in reality, we have baseball and football practice, ballet recitals, football meetings to break down our next opponent, small group, music practice, visits to my parents an hour and a half away, dinners with friends, and on top of that conversations that often go something like, “Did you get the milk? No I thought you got the milk. I told you I had Parent Teacher Conference, by the way, the chicken is burning.” Whew. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
The point is I’m realizing the reality that life is never going to slow down enough for us to have time to do everything we think we need to do. In juggling the different things of life, you’re going to have to drop some pins at some point.
Which brings me to the second lesson I’m learning:
2. It isn’t my job to juggle everything for everyone, and that is a good thing.
The idea that I will drop some of the pins I’m trying to juggle in my life isn’t a popular one in our culture. The prevailing American culture is represented by a value system that stresses achievement and success, rugged individualism and uniqueness, material comforts and wealth, and controlling your own destiny. In other words, we should be people who are capable of keeping up the juggling act and even adding another pin or two into the mix.
But I feel like lately God has been showing me I must remember that a life lived for Jesus Christ is in stark contrast to the values of the prevailing culture.
Achievement, success, and self-worth in the life of a disciple of Christ might look like failure in the eyes of the world. Yet the Gospel shows us when we turn and trust in Jesus that we are uniquely children of the King with all the comforts, wealth, and acceptance that comes with being heirs to the creator of it all. He is the King who can handle all the things I feel like I need to juggle in my life, and He has accepted me.
In reality, I don’t know how to juggle, and I doubt I’ll ever really learn. So when I think of the many pins I’m having to juggle in my life, I’m learning to take great comfort in my growing understanding of the Gospel. In other words, having Jesus, who honestly controls my destiny and the destiny of my family, my students, and the athletes I coach is a real load off my back. I fail every day. I drop many of the pins I’m desperately trying to keep juggling. And that used to paralyze me from wanting to try again in fear that God would shake his head in disapproval and reject me. I would rather not play a game that I had no chance of winning than to keep falling flat on my face.
But I’m growing in my understanding that in the Gospel Jesus did not save me from my fumbling and failing; he saved me from the penalty of sin. God was well aware of my shortcomings before salvation, and he knew I would never live the life he wanted me to live by doing it myself. So he allows me to fail, and yet he still accepts me and allows me to try again.
Like a true father, he lets us learn through doing, and he blesses us in our attempts because he loves us. If my kids tried to make me a gourmet meal on Father’s Day because they love me, I would eat every bite regardless of the taste because my children are precious to me. And I am a sinner. How much more does God, the true Father, love us?
When I turn to the Gospel I see that I don’t have to keep trying to juggle everything in my life, and that’s a good thing. God is in control, he has accepted me, and he is capable of handling all the things that life throws at me.
So, I still am not very good at juggling, and sometimes I want to let all the pins hit the ground. I guess the trick to it isn’t keeping our eyes on all the spinning pins in the air, although that may be what comes natural. Instead, let’s look into the eyes of our Father who is smiling at us as we try again and again.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
If you find yourself overwhelmed today, ask God to reveal which pins you should keep tossing, and which ones to let hit the ground. While we may need to put a few pins down from time to time, let us keep on doing good knowing our true Father loves us and is there for us even when we don’t know how to juggle everything.