Are You Setting Yourself Up For a Wild Ride?

I’m getting close to the finish line on the first draft of the book I am writing, Finding Balance in the Circus of Life. I had hoped to be done by the end of March, but a toothache that requires a root canal and a crown has derailed my progress. I just couldn’t pry myself out of bed at 6 to write. Monday will hopefully be a new beginning. There are only two chapters and the conclusion to go.Then I get to read it all and see if it makes any sense and begin the editing process.

I thought I would share another circus character from the book with you (if you missed the first two, you can find the ringmaster here and the clown here). As I think about and wish for spring, I realized that while we don’t exactly hibernate, we often slow down a bit in the winter. As spring approaches (please, approach, spring), ideas begin to buzz around our heads, activities begin to pick up, and new projects bloom like croci. If we’re not careful we can end up just like:

The Trapeze Artist

“He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young man on the flying trapeze.” I remember that song from my childhood, so I was surprised to learn it was written in the mid-1800s about a specific trapeze artist named Jules Léotard. (And yes, the leotard was named after him.) Léotard was the first performer known for “flying” from one trapeze to another and for performing a somersault in the air.

Trapeze artists swing from one side of the circus to the other in a great arc. This is one circus performance we think we understand a bit, thanks to those years on the grade school swings. We know the thrill of soaring up, that moment of suspension at the apex before we come hurtling back down. And suddenly we’re on our way back up again, only on the other side.

My husband Les hates it when I read how-to, dieting or organizing articles or books. He knows I am sure to adopt whatever great advice is out there. I launch myself into it with gusto—for a few moments or days at least. And then I bore of it and come swinging down, just before sailing up to the next great self-improvement project. Like Jules Léotard, sometimes I even launch myself from one crazy idea to another, flying through the air without any moment of normal life.

When we live our daily lives as a trapeze artist, we are busy swinging from one extreme to another with no lasting focus. We might have that moment of suspension where we are “all in” to whatever idea has caught our fancy, but it doesn’t last long. Soon we’ve left it behind, headed back to earth. But we don’t stay there long either. We are immediately swung away toward a different extreme, some new interest.

These extremes waste three of our most limited personal resources: time, energy and money. I saw a magnet once that said, “I went on a special 21-day diet. All I lost was three weeks.” When I pick up some new improvement scheme, I may buy new foods or household products. I may throw out those clothes that don’t project the new me. When I bore of the scheme, the new juicer ends up in a bottom cupboard, the foods rot in the veggie drawer and I wonder if I can buy my comfortable pants back from Goodwill.

We have so many options to choose from in life, it can be hard to focus on one or two things, to stick with them and to do them well. Part of the problem is the articles and books make it seem so easy. “Five Simple Steps to __________,” says the headline, and we believe them that it’s that simple.

We want good results but not at any personal cost. We don’t want it to talk our time or energy or effort to achieve. We want instant results, microwaveable remedies. All gain, no pain.

Life doesn’t work like that, no matter what the supermarket magazine headlines say.

New things, new ideas, new adventures can be exciting. And certainly God does new things in his church and in the lives of his people. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” God says in Isaiah 43:19. When he is bringing something new into our lives, he wants us to recognize it. But he doesn’t want us to pursue the new simply for the excitement of something else, as we abandon what he has called us to.

The trapeze life has no lasting focus. We swing back and forth, eager for new experiences, higher arcs or a farther leap to a new trapeze altogether. But nothing permanent is accomplished in our lives. And like those days on the grade school swings, we often very suddenly reach the point where we are dizzy and sick, needing to get back down to earth as quickly as possible.

What one or two things will you focus on this spring, and what will you simply let go of?

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