I wasn’t completely comfortable with the balance beam when I was in gymnastics. As I watch world class gymnastics on television, I hear commentators say particular athletes feel “at home” on the beam and know there are only a few people like that in the world. It’s not natural to feel completely comfortable on a 4-inch wide plank a little more than four feet off the ground, especially when you start turning, leaping and flipping!
It’s not that I was petrified of being on the beam. I actually liked it, but I had to practice and face fears. My gymnastics team practice time wasn’t enough for me. I knew I needed more. So, my dad built a beam for me in our yard. It wasn’t exactly regulation, and I couldn’t attempt the most difficult tricks because of safety, but I loved it for practicing the basics. I’d walk back and forth, turn, leap, mount and dismount over and over. The shaky balance between confidence and fear began to shift. My focus turned from fear to face confidence instead.
Balance in life is rarely between two opposing ideas or objects as we often believe. It’s not a playground seesaw, tipping to one side to get the momentum to compel the other side to move to equal status. We rarely want to balance such opposites as good and evil or right and wrong in such ways. Balance is more what we focus upon. When I was on the beam, my balance was determined by my focus. I could focus on fear or confidence. Whichever consumed me impacted whether I was on the beam or the floor.
Balance is as much about focus as anything else. Consider all the how-to-balance-your-life books and articles you’ve read. Tips and tools given usually have to do with priorities. What floats to the top of the list is what gets focused upon, and other areas of life take a backseat. When what’s focused upon is fear, growth often takes a backseat. I can’t fear and persevere at the same time, unless I’m persevering through fear, which means fear isn’t the focus. Perseverance is.
I remember standing on the balance beam at a competition, preparing to reach for the beam by bending over backward. I probably only froze for a moment, but it felt longer for me as I was gripped by fear and doubt and quickly wrestled with my options. I didn’t want to fall. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t want to let my team down. I didn’t want my coach to be mad at me. My best option? Go for it! I’d done the stunt enough times to know what I was doing. All I had to do was focus.
We often focus on can’ts of life instead of standing firm on the confidence we have. Fortunately, it’s not our own confidence we have to rely upon. We’d be in big trouble if it was. I know people who present themselves as very confident, but in reality, there is a shaky foundation under the confidence, because it’s something they’ve made up for themselves. That means when something comes along that shakes the foundation they thought was so strong, even when it takes nearly a lifetime to have the foundation disturbed, they have to question not only what they’ve been focusing on for extended time but also what they’ll focus on in the future.
God doesn’t say we’re to be self-confident. We’re to be God-confident.
You should have confidence because you respect God. Job 4:6
Whether or not I stay on the balance beam isn’t as important as where my focus is. When my focus is on God, I will be balanced and sure-footed in the confidence he promises me.