There is no question that life can be a lot to handle. Whether it’s because you’re PCSing soon, you’re family is broken up, or things at school are just crazy, at some point you are going to feel overwhelmed by the task of just living life. It can be incredibly difficult!!
Where do you think God fits in all of this? I mean, what does he expect us to do when life looms in front of us like a tsunami wave about to crash over us? If you’ve wondered this or something similar, keep reading to find out more.
Once my friend Devin went to the school nurse. He told her, “I have a really hard time concentrating, and I am getting bad grades in school because of it. What should I do?” She ran through a few questions and then asked, “What’s your sleep schedule like?”
Devin told her how he went to bed anywhere between 11pm and 1am. He had to be up by 6:15 on school days but he slept in late on Saturday and until 9 on Sunday. After hearing that the nurse said, “Go home and pick times to go to sleep and wake up that will work for every day of the week (or as close as possible.) Try this for two weeks and make sure that you have a routine at night so your body knows it’s time to rest. If that doesn’t fix it, come back and see me.”
Devin was skeptical that it would be as simple as that and he really didn’t want to get up at 6 on a Saturday, but he tried it for 2 weeks and things did go better. He found out he could do some of the things he liked to do at night, like play video games or use the home gym, with less interruptions early in the morning when the house was still quiet. Concentrating in school seemed easier too and he decided he’d stick it out until finals since it seemed to be working.
A few days later, though, Devin couldn’t sleep. He was so angry with his dad. There had been this huge blowup over his C in Biology and Devin was shaking with anger by the time it was over. The next day it didn’t get any better when his dad took the Xbox controllers and said he’d get them back when he had a B or better.
When Devin saw his youth leader at the school during lunch, he talked to him about what had been going on with his grades, the sleep schedule, and his Dad. His youth leader asked him how he had addressed his anger. Devin just shrugged since he’d just been ignoring it and waiting it out.
“After school, let’s go frolfing by the golf course with the rest of the guys from small group. Maybe we can work out some of that aggression! Right now, though, can I pray with you? We should probably bring the “Big Guy” in on this.”
Praying in the middle of a hallway felt a little awkward but Devin went with it and he did feel better afterwards. When they went out that afternoon, he had a good time tossing the Frisbee around and hanging out with the guys.
He was feeling better when he got home and got to sleep around his target time. The next few weeks were a lot of work but Devin kept pushing forward and working hard. He stuck to his sleep schedule and stayed connected to his friend. One of his older buddies suggested they do some studying together (Bible and school) and that really helped Devin stay on track. Things weren’t always easy or even good, but having balance in his life made all the difference when things got overwhelming.
What you might have noticed is how one area of Devin’s life had the ability to influence (for good or bad) the other areas of his life. We are all made up of different aspects of our being. One breakdown, conceptualized by Dr. David O. Sanders, is known as S.P.I.E.S. It stands for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social. It represents the five areas of our lives as humans (A word for this is ‘holistic’ – representing who we are as a whole person).
Having this breakdown can be really helpful when working to bring balance to your overwhelming life. When you have healthy growth in each area of life, you will find it more and more effortless to handle whatever life might throw at you. A holistic approach will definitely provide balance to your life!
This Scripture outlines the way our lives will ebb and flow and that we will experience growth and atrophy or even regression in the different areas of S.P.I.E.S. Notice how each part of who we are is represented here. Also pay attention to the ending and look for guidance pertaining to finding daily our balance in this overwhelming life.
- Have you ever experienced anything like Devin? What did you use to help bring balance to your life?
- Do you believe that having balance is important and will improve your ability to handle life? Why or why not?
- What areas of S.P.I.E.S. do you think you do a good job growing in? Which areas do you tend to neglect?
Dear Jesus, everything can feel out of whack so easily. Why is it that simple to make me feel lost and overwhelmed? Please give me strength and guidance, Father. I need to learn how to handle this life and not be brought down or defeated. Help me make wise choices and learn to bring balance to my life. Give me awareness of myself and my needs; help me figure out what having balance means. I believe I can do it with your help. Amen.
Many students drastically underestimate the amount of sleep they need to function well in school and the other areas of their lives. Take a look at this series called Inside the Teen Brain by Frontline, especially the 10-minute segment titled From ZZZZZ’s to A’s.
There by the Ahava Canal I gave orders for us all to fast and humble ourselves before our God and to ask him to lead us on our journey and protect us and our children and all our possessions. I would have been ashamed to ask the emperor for a troop of cavalry to guard us from any enemies during our journey, because I had told him that our God blesses everyone who trusts him, but that he is displeased with and punishes anyone who turns away from him. So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
One way that countless followers of Christ have sought out balance in their lives is through the spiritual discipline of fasting. This doesn’t just pertain to food. You can fast from talking, watching TV, eating sugar, and many other things. It’s a great tool when we have become off balance. If you are spending too much time socializing and not enough time focused on your relationship with God, a talking or social media fast might be a good idea. If you can’t control your eating when you are upset, fasting from food and making sure to pray rather than eat during those overwhelming times will be a really good exercise for you.
If fasting is something you are interested in and you think you want to explore it, do so with the guidance and accountability of a leader, chaplain, or parent. They can help you stay on track and make sure you are doing everything correctly. Give it a try! You will be so glad you did!
For some additional information and 7 steps to fasting, click here.
Having emotional health is vital to a well-balanced life. If you are ever overwhelmed and wondering if you might need to talk to someone who is a professional, take this quiz as a quick check on where you are emotionally. You may find just talking for an hour can make you feel more balanced and ready to face life.
3 John 1:2
Deuteronomy 6:4-7- This passage from the Old Testament is called the Shema. This is where the idea of S.P.I.E.S originates. Can you identify the five aspects in these verses?
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Luke 2:52- Even Jesus worked on balance and growth throughout his life!
2 Timothy 1:7- Maybe the idea of balancing your life seems like a daunting task. Just keep this verse in mind when you are feeling overwhelmed. The Holy Spirit is present with you to help your heart and mind and body.
Galatians 5:22-24- Here we see what finding balance through our faith can produce in our lives.
Ephesians 5:1-4- This passage gives us some guidance on how to balance our lives. Notice that all of the areas of S.P.I.E.S. are addressed!
Proverbs 1:2-7- If you want a resource for both spiritual and intellectual growth, check out Proverbs!
2 Peter 1:3-9
Small group guide:
This is a great spoken word video by Jefferson Bethke. As you watch, notice how he addresses every area of S.P.I.E.S. (Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social).
Large group guide:
- Make a list for each area of S.P.I.E.S. and write down everything you can feasibly do to grow in those areas each day. Circle one from each section you want to begin working on and tape the list somewhere you will see it often.
- Reread the Story and write down each thing that Devin did that brought some balance to his life. If you aren’t already doing them, start this week! They are good habits for everyone to have and will always help your life be more balanced.
- Pick any passage (or part of it) from the Scripture sections. Memorize it this week. Put it by your bed, fridge, locker, or somewhere you will see it multiple times a day.
When life feels like it’s too much to handle and you are trying to find your balance, listen to this playlist and think about how what the artists say does or doesn’t line up with what God calls us to do and the promises he has made to those who follow him.
Read through the following passage and rewrite it in your own words. Consider how each part of S.P.I.E.S. (Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social) are being addressed here. Something you might find interesting; these are the first instructions the Israelites got after years as slaves to the Egyptians. They were very out of balance and had no clue what it meant to serve the Lord.
“Now, people of Israel, listen to what the LORD your God demands of you: Worship the LORD and do all that he commands. Love him, serve him with all your heart, and obey all his laws. I am giving them to you today for your benefit. To the LORD belong even the highest heavens; the earth is his also, and everything on it. But the LORD’s love for your ancestors was so strong that he chose you instead of any other people, and you are still his chosen people. So then, from now on be obedient to the LORD and stop being stubborn. The LORD your God is supreme over all gods and over all powers. He is great and mighty, and he is to be obeyed. He does not show partiality, and he does not accept bribes. He makes sure that orphans and widows are treated fairly; he loves the foreigners who live with our people, and gives them food and clothes. So then, show love for those foreigners, because you were once foreigners in Egypt. Have reverence for the LORD your God and worship only him. Be faithful to him and make your promises in his name alone. Praise him—he is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that he has done for you. When your ancestors went to Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.” -Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Check out this video of a family of goats who like to balance on a flexible metal arch. There’s no sound, but maybe one of you will be inspired to remix it!