Have you ever seen a really good juggler? Someone who can juggle basically any number of any object? Balls, bowling pins, bats, chainsaws, small children. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, they can keep those things up in the air indefinitely.
I am not a very good juggler. I’ve tried at various points in my life to just pick it up. For some reason, each time I don’t expect it to be very difficult; but I am always wrong. I may get a couple of passes in with three light balls, but very quickly things go wrong. I inevitably get more and more frantic and throw a ball too high, or too far, and things tend to devolve from there. I am however learning to juggle my life a little bit better. For years now, I’ve had a wife, multiple jobs, a child, church, family, friends and my own desires to try and juggle. For years, I have not been very good at it, but I feel like I’m finally making progress.
I think that a lot of it has had to do with priorities. It has taken me a long time to (forgive me) get my head out of my own ass. Externally, I tend to present myself as a pretty selfless person. I try to put others ahead of myself, my wife and my family’s needs before my own. My internal dialogue, however, has been very different. At every turn I saw myself as having to sacrifice what I really wanted to do because of these other responsibilities. Internally, I was still thinking very selfishly. This has, at times, had a really detrimental impact on my relationships, particularity the one with my wife. There is a big difference between doing what needs to be done because I was requested to do so, and doing what needs to be done willingly, gratefully, and without resentment. I must admit to myself that I have, at times, resented having to work 3 jobs. This is a bit of a revelation because I’ve often told myself otherwise. It’s simply what I must do, I chose this line of work, my family needs the insurance, I’m a good person striving to be better, I simply must be willing to work as hard as I can to provide for us. My willingness to do the work led me to believe that I didn’t resent it. Unfortunately, I no longer think that those two things are mutually exclusive. I can tell myself that I’m willing to clean up another mess, but if I’m resentful, then I’m really not willing.
So, what can we take away from this? How do we juggle not only our busy lives but our internal lives? Honestly, I was expecting to talk about how I’m better equipped now to handle all of the different facets of my life and that I’ve grown as a human being. Instead I find myself talking about my shortcomings and looking for answers instead of giving them. How can I continue to be more willing to do what must be done? I don’t want to resent my wife, or my two boys, or my friends and family because they’re keeping me from some ethereal, grass is always greener other life that will never be. I do love my life very much. I love my wife and my sons. I love my church and my job and the people that I work with. Overall I am very happy, so why have I so often blamed these things and people for my own character flaws? I am not a bad man, but I am most certainly not perfect. I am only made right through the Love of God expressed through Christ. Paul said, I die daily to who I once was. And I think that’s the key to juggling. My focus, although I am busy doing for others, is still on me. When the truth is, my focus shouldn’t be me or even the others (wife, children, friends, etc.), but Christ alone. When you are learning to juggle you are told to “not” keep your eye on the ball. Instead you keep your eye on the highest point watching each ball as it reaches that point. When we fix our eyes on Jesus he is able to help us juggle not only the external but the internal. Is it easy, no. But do I think it will help, yes. And so I must choose everyday to sacrifice all of the things that I no longer wish to be at the feet of Jesus.
Amen and Amen.