Jenell mowing the lawn...?Musings from Jenell

Life Balance

Since we arrived back at the family farm a year ago, the guys haven’t really encouraged me to drive the giant super-B’s or the humungus combine with its auto-steer and computerized GPS (global positioning system). And that’s all right with me, because I kind of like to keep my life in balance. So I’ve somehow become the official lawn mower of the two family farm sites. And I like it a lot. It’s predictable. You can see where you’ve gone, and where you need to keep going. It looks really neat and tidy when I’m done, and I can see what I’ve accomplished. I can dream and think while I’m working, and everyone thinks I’m really doing something.

Although I have been known to almost knock my head off trying to go under the iron-strong branches of the apple tree. And there was the time that I mangled a mower blade trying to mow over the protruding roots of the blue spruce. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was on the same day that I had mowed to a dead stall as the machine devoured the newly laid sod that my daughter-in-law had just so proudly lugged into an artistic design in their garden. So there’s been a few obstacles. But generally, I just like getting something done that I can do, and no one else has time for. When I finish the six hour job, I always feel like dusting my hands together and thinking, with a sigh of satisfaction, that I must have lost weight after doing all that work (if only).

It really feels good to be safe and secure, and to dream and think  That’s why I like mowing, but when I get right down to it, am I copping out? I want the predictability and security of a sure thing, and the excitement, adventure and new challenges as well. I know that I’m not wired quite the same as another person and so my balance in all of that might look quite different than my friends.

I just recently invested in Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0. It’s a great way to find out your strengths and then build on them. The author, Tom Rath, explains that in our culture we have made heroes of those characters who have overcome their weaknesses against all the odds. However, his perspective is that we often waste a tremendous amount of energy and effort on struggling to become proficient in ways that we weren’t wired for. I like his belief that we have been created with certain strengths or talents, and that by building on those God-given strengths we accomplish so much more, and with real enjoyment, rather than blood, sweat and tears.

So I want to work on those strengths in my life. According to the StrengthFinder my five top strengths are: Connectedness, Relator,  Strategic, Input and Activator. I won’t explain all that right now, but they do a good job of explaining and analyzing those characteristics and helping a person see how they might practically build on those strengths. That’s exciting to me, and I really want to be putting my focus and energies into the things that God has created me for. I think I’ve also come to realize that when I’m doing the things that I’m wired for, I don’t get as tired, frustrated and burned out. It puts a whole new light on trying to keep my life in balance because it isn’t just about how many activities or responsibilities I’m involved in, it’s more about how am I putting my energies to work?

So maybe mowing will still be my time of  ho-hum predictability, but it probably is also my time of dreaming or strategic planning so that I can engage in being connected, relating to others, and planning some action to be taken. I just might need to re-evaluate how I use my time and energies for things that are great, but maybe not the best for me. Someone has said that the enemy of the best is the good.

So I find that life is out of balance when:

~ I become driven by circumstances,
~ When I’m trying to please someone else or pursue their vision for me,
~ When I’m chasing after what the world values rather than what I value,
~ When I’m always dealing with the urgent rather than the important, and
~ When I’m trying to do several different major things in the same season, and continually adding more onto the pile.

So I’m headed out to the lawn mower…..But maybe I’ll just make a couple of phone calls to connect with some special people I’ve been meaning to talk to all week.


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