I have ended up in a place where I juggle chemistry, spirituality and education. These different elements pull me in different ways. Sometimes the pull of two of the elements neatly coincides, other times they seem mutually opposed. Sometimes I can hold all three at once; more often one suffers at the expense of the others.
Whilst the combination of things I juggle is perhaps unusual, I think the experience of having to juggle different things is far more common. Very few of us have a single clear priority. More often than not we juggle career, family, passions and consuming hobbies. Depending on how serious our commitment to these various elements sooner or later we will have to choose the better over the good.
This is the challenge that I am beginning to face. I don’t have enough energy to give what I would like to all of these different elements. So where do I choose to put my efforts? I don’t have a clear answer to this – I don’t operate by rules. Rather with each opportunity that emerges I need to be discerning: in part this means weighing up the cost of the investment with the reward; in part it means noticing where the life is for me – where God seems to be nudging.
But my capacity to discern well is directly related to the care I am taking of myself. If I am over-extended I am much less likely to discern well. And therein lies the key to being able to maintain this dynamic equilibrium. My first priority has got to be maintaining my own spiritual, physical and emotional health. I have learnt tremendously from those times that I have neglected one or more aspects of this. And I still find my natural inclination is to try to get through by force of will – but that attitude is really choosing the good over the better.
I am not the only person in my environment who can make substantial contributions in the areas that I do. When I can remember that, I am able find the freedom to make a better decision.