By Deacon Frank Lucca, Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
It seems to me that more and more of us are stressed out a lot these days. I know I’ve spoken to many students, staff, faculty, parishioners and friends who just seem to be overstressed and overwhelmed all the time. Add the holidays into the mix and it becomes overwhelming for so many!
In fact, a doctor friend of mine quoted some unbelievable number of the U.S. population living with anxiety and stress – I don’t recall the exact number but up around 20% or more!
When we look at our priorities, especially in these stressful moments, I wonder where God is on the list. It often seems that we forget prayer, and other opportunities to spend time with God during the very times we need him the most.
I’m not speaking of calling out to God in desperation for help only when we need him,…most do that! I am speaking of taking the time to develop and work on building a relationship that will carry us through the most difficult of times.
When folks share with me that they are stressed or they’re having a bad day, or everything is just falling apart, I often relate a little story that I once heard in relation to a young mother trying to juggle everything going on in her life.
Imagine that you are a juggler. As a juggler, you must remember that you must keep all of the balls in the air without dropping any. Now think of these balls that you are juggling. There are two types of balls. Balls made of glass and balls made of rubber. The balls made of rubber can be dropped without too much concern, right?
They’ll either bounce and come back to you at some later time, or they’ll just roll away. It’s no big deal if these balls made of rubber drop. It’s the balls made of glass that we need to concern ourselves with. If they are dropped, they are destroyed, broken, smashed.
So now look at your life. You are juggling lots and lots of these balls. We like to try to keep them all in the air without dropping any of them. But that’s impossible. There are so many things we must juggle in our lives. The question becomes, which of these balls are made of glass and which are made of rubber. Once you decide that, then it’s easy to start letting the rubber ones go and concentrate on the important ones, the ones made of glass.
The obvious point is this: What are the balls made of glass in your life right now? God? Family? School? We need to keep those in the air. Sometimes, however, we tend to want to keep the balls made of rubber in the air instead because we like what they represent: partying, drugs, videogames, etc.
What are these rubber ones for you? In an effort to respond to the urgent, to all these other life issues and situations , the important is sometimes set aside and as a result we begin to drop the glass ones. Once they break it is hard to recover them.
What are the balls made of glass in your life? Your faith? Spending time with your family? Your health? Make a list of these. Then make a plan to ensure that you are able to juggle these first. Block out the time in your schedule for those activities. Amazingly, the other stuff still gets done.
Periodically reflect on how you’re doing. Are you putting your balls made of glass first, or do the rubber ones dominate your life? Decide which rubber balls to drop so that you can keep juggling what’s important in life.
When you’re planning your month, your week or your day, and even when you’re making specific decisions during the day, refer back to your list of the balls made of glass. Then, juggle them first. Everything else can be dropped…and will fall, bounce, roll into place after that.