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Life Work Balance is a Lie

Updated: Feb 29

Before we go very far, I need to tell you something. You are doing better than you think you are. If you are like me and most people out there, you are your own worst critic.

There are people who see you every day and wonder why they can’t/don’t do life as well as you do. It is a trite but it is true; you have someone else’s dream job, relationship, family, house, life, parents, friends, spouse, dog…well you get the idea. Things are usually better than we think they are.

The myth of balance trips us up. Somehow, we expect to look amazing, have a perfect family, excel at work, always have time for our friends, be an exceptional person, have multiple Instagram-able moments a day, and work out while we eat healthy.

Life and Work Balance

It doesn’t happen, it isn’t realistic and we know it. Yet, we often still feel the pressure to have the balanced and beautiful life. We “see” it so much in our photoshopped world....

We start to believe it is a failure if the unrealistic is not our reality.

The cracks tend to first show up in the mythical work-life balance. Be great at work and be great at life all the time. Spoiler alert you can’t, and even if you pull it off for a season it will not last.

Life comes at you fast. Just the time you feel like you have a routine that is working the apple cart is turned over.

Even with this, “they” are out there. People who seem to face the same kinds of challenges, changes, and circumstances you do but they maintain perspective, perform at work, and keep relationships healthy. But it is not by a magical balance immunizing them from the ups and downs.

Too many times life and work (L&W for the rest of this article) are presented in only one of two ways: healthy or unhealthy, good or bad, functional or dysfunctional. Implying only when things are good, right, and perfect are they acceptable.

This misunderstanding creates guilt and unrealistic expectations. The truth is L&W regularly get out of balance. It is normal to be imbalanced. I find relief in accepting that L&W are never balanced.

Have you ever heard the expression “bad things come in threes”? It is often the case that emotional and stressful situations happen at the same time. You can’t stay balanced in the middle of chaotic seasons at work or in life.

When your house needs a major repair, your son is struggling at school, and your wife has upsetting medical test results is it any wonder you are not fully present at work? When layoffs are coming at work, you have an impossible deadline, and you get a new project to lead is it surprising some of your relationships experience less than your best?

These aren’t excuses, simply reality. It there is any guarantee in life, it is that things will change. Your health, needs, wants, goals, ambitions, children, finances – everything eventually changes.

It is intriguing to me that this is such a dominant theme in our personal journey with Christ but so overlooked in our L&W. In the epistle of James, we read,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

And Jesus warned us in John 16:33,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 

So, we expect trials and troubles in our own personal walk with the Lord. However, when these difficulties occur in our L&W, we tend to look for what is wrong.

I think most of you have the expectation that if you just do everything right, then your L&W will be exempt from any difficulties. But you can say with just as much confidence as the prediction that James and Jesus made about your life as an individual, that your L&W is destined to experience many types of trials and troubles in this life. 

The underlying assumption that if your life and work was healthy it would not be impacted by changes is false. The question is not, will things change, the question is, how will you respond to things changing.

To start give yourself permission. Not permission to ignore your work or permission to be absent in your relationships. Give yourself permission to not strive for unobtainable balance.

If we are not striving for balance in the life comes at your fast moments…what are we doing?

First, in faith do exactly what Jesus tells you to do.

Psalm 55:22 says, Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

1 Peter 5:7 is similar, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Start with going to God. A good way to think about the word cast is to picture yourself throwing your cares and anxiety to God! Tell him about whatever it is causing your whirlwind. Ask for wisdom, ask for help, and ask for peace.

Now, go to those impacted. Sit down with your family and friends or your co-workers and let them know what is happening. Explain how you see the next season going and let them know what they can count on you for and what you may have to step away from for a season.

In most cases you will be welcomed with offers to help and with understanding. You may even find people who have navigated the same things eager to share their experience with you.

Finally share it with your faith family. If you are in a Community Group (you should be if you aren’t!) this is the perfect place to ask for prayer and to get encouragement. If you aren’t connect with the prayer team at church. You are not alone and do not have to navigate the whirlwind seasons alone.

L&W getting wobbly? Go to God, go to your people, and go to your faith family. Just don’t go to the wrong assumption everything should be balanced!



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