Breakdown on the Road to Balance

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I’ve never been a half-way kind of person.  I see things in black and white.  I either love something (like the beach) or hate it (like okra).  When I’m happy, I’m ecstatic.  When I’m sad, I’m bereft.  When I’m angry, I’m irate.  That’s the way I am.

I suppose that in some ways, that’s a blessing.  It may take a while to convince me of something, but once I’m convinced, I am dedicated to it.  It took my friends and family four years to convince me to try college.  I moved into the dorm, buckled down, and got my bachelors degree in three and a half years.

Being an “all or nothing” person has its downsides, too.  I’m terrible at establishing balance in my life.  I have a tendency to get focused and fixated on one area of my life.  I pour all of my time and all of my thought and all of my energy into it to the detriment of everything and everyone else in my life.

When I first started going to my church, I avoided any and all responsibilities.  Because I’ve gone to more than a dozen churches in my life, I knew that one of two things would happen.  Either I would be rejected.  (Been there.  It hurts.)  Or I would be accepted.  Then, people would begin to rely on me.  They’d ask me to do things and I’d say yes.  They would ask me to do more things and I’d say yes because I wouldn’t be able to find a balance.  Eventually, I would burn out (or explode). 

I sat in the pew next to my friend Jimmy for six months, hearing his constant comments of “Sarah, I see a place for you in the choir up there next to Kelly” or “Sarah, I feel guilty sitting here listening to you sing, knowing that you should be in the choir.”  But eventually, he (and God) wore me down and I joined the choir.  Four months later, I was asked to join the praise team.  And then, I added the Singles’ ministry.  Then Women’s Bible study.  Then Prison Ministry.  Then Drama team….

Just after Valentine’s Day of this year, I was driving to church for the seventh time in as many days when I realized that I was out of balance.  I began to take inventory of my life.  I hadn’t grocery shopped in a month (and had dropped about 14 pounds REAL fast).  I hadn’t folded or put away laundry or cleaned my house in over a month.  I hadn’t balanced my checkbook in three months and was behind paying my bills.  On top of that, I had followed God into accepting a position as a monthly columnist with Christian Fiction Online Magazine (see button on sidebar).  But how was I going to make my deadlines if I was leaving my house at 7:30 every morning and not getting home until 10:30 or later each night?  And when my editor-in-chief reminded me that I needed to start a website and blog, I just about broke beneath the weight of it all.

That Saturday night on the way to a drama performance, I “woke up” and said, “LORD, You’ve got to help me find my balance.” 

As hard as it was, I took a hiatus from EVERY SINGLE MINISTRY that I was involved in.  Then, I came home and had a total breakdown.  For about two weeks, I only left the house to go to work.  I would come home, sit in my chair and go to sleep.  I would get up from the chair and go to bed.  And the next day, I would do it again.  For about eight weeks, I didn’t go to church.  I didn’t know how I would handle answering peoples’ questions, so I just stayed home and hid from them.  And then, one Saturday night, I went to bed and set my alarm clock because I knew that the next morning it was going to be time to go back to church.

These days, I don’t stray real far from home.  I work.  I come home.  I grocery shop.  I work in the yard.  I clean the house.  I research and write.  It’s been very slow and very hard, but God is helping me find my balance.  I’ve integrated myself back into Sunday morning services.  I went back to church and found that the arms there are wide open and waiting for me.

A lot of people think that because I smile a lot, my life is simple and figured out.  They think that I don’t have painful situations.  But there are days (like today) when I run home and sit on the porch steps with my eyes closed against the gray skies and the breeze.  I say, “Please, come hold me, Jesus.  I really need You now.  I need to feel You.  I’m just so empty.”  I open my eyes and look up to see the clouds break apart and show the blue sky behind them.  And I’m reminded that even though I haven’t “arrived” or even totally found my balance, I’m okay right where I am because He’s with me here.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Balance is a tough thing for me to achieve too, Sarah. If I’m into something, I’m all in. And if not, there’s no way you can get me involved. I’ve missed some fantastic things with that kind of thinking.

    And who doesn’t like okra? Sheesh.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Okra– EW! It’s even worse than collards!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Praise God you are finding your balance. Remember the steps of a righteous man (woman) are order by the Lord. As I read your article, it reminded me of someone else I know-very well, myself. It is good to know that an individual is not alone in this same”boat” and especially how Our Lord can bring us through it. Thank you for sharing. :)

  4. Sarah,

    You remind me so much of me before I got ‘serious’ about God. I too went to this church, that church, and the ‘other’ church looking mainly for connections. I understand the struggles you are facing because I’ve been there. It was years ago but I was there. Today I am actually looking for a new church to be a member of but I’m looking more closely than I ever had. I have been a member of my current church for years and years and although I know they love the Lord and taught the Word of God, I still found myself feeling neglected. I even helped out in the nursery; and like you once I started to the directors over the kids ministry asked more and more of me. They would ask for help and how could I say ‘no’, ya know? So I went, but none of them tried to get to know me, though I tried different ways to get involved by helping in the nursery when they asked, being one of the VBS teachers last summer, and even trying to go to their morning Bible Studies…..oh they taught and meant well, but the thing that was missing (for me at least) was the lack of connection. I didn’t have any real friends, just generic (surface) friends, yet I desired to connect and have others extend their arm out to include me when I made attempts to befriend them. It hurt a lot. So now my husband and I are looking for another church but we made a list this time of what the things we are looking for (overall). And no, we don’t consider ourselves to be picky either so we aren’t being pathetic in our search, however we do want to go to church that feeds our need and want for Christian friends to bond with. Really bond with. Of course this doesn’t happen overnight and we realize this. But after going to our current church for almost 6 yrs. and trying to connect but never ‘really’ friends (just the staff asking for help), we both grew sad.

    It’s weird in a way. I don’t know how to explain how something like that can happen but it did and only at this church. Even still I believe they are a great church but we just don’t feel ‘fed’ on the emotional level like we had hoped to by making awesome Godly friends to bond with and get to know, not just them asking us for help in areas….unfortunately after 6 years, this was the result; we felt…..sad and lonely.

    So, like you, I’ve skipped a church service or two because I didn’t want to feel ‘down’ yet again with the fact that nobody wanted to befriend me, really befriend me althought I tried my best to befriend others.

    Sorry so long, but I really, really do understand your feeling of needing God to be there for you. We all do.

    I hope you and I, (both Sarah’s) find the balanace we need. I’ll be praying for you Sarah. By the way I want to bless you as a gift from me to you a ‘Blog Button’, so that I can add you on my site. Of course if you don’t mind. Just tell me what design you want or just if you want your header above with the title of your blog. I’m not perfect with it but I can do it. I want to add your button that I create on my blog because so many times I try to find you, with a button it would be easier for me to reach your blog.

    Chin up! You’re doing well by pouring your heart out. 😀

    ~Sarah Cecilia

  5. Barbara says:

    Thanks for that one, maybe one day I will find that balance…I have to run to Him “all” the time.. Don’t know how else to survive sometimes. I “call those things that are not as though they were”.. and remember that ‘No weapon formed against them( you know what I mean) shall prosper”.. And if I “be quiet” and listen… He… tells me to just “hold on”…
    B

  6. Balance….what is that? :) I am an all or nothin person, too, as you well know. It is so hard to find balance, and it is still hard even when you give everything over to The Lord. It is a painful process, actually.

  7. I totally could’ve written this. Totally.

  8. A) Okra is delicious IF AND ONLY IF it is battered and FRIED! LOL And not now, nor have I ever been a collard fan. SIGH.

    B) Ahhh, the elusive balance. Constantly seeking it my own self! As you well know!

    C) I am SO PROUD OF YOU! I know it was very difficult for you to take a sabbatical from all your activities. BUT they were becoming overwhelming and no matter how many ‘good’ things we are doing, we cannot neglect that which God is calling us to and that is relationship with HIM (taking my own advice here…) and taking time to be still and know!

    D) I love you. You are awesome. :-)

  9. Hey pretty lady!

    I just wanted to let you know that I have a blog award for you. So if you can, come over to my site and pick it up. Darn, I really wish you had a ‘followers’ list so that others can read up on you often.

    Anywho, love what I always read from you!

    Your new friend,
    Sarah Cecilia

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