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Catching Our Balance

When you get to be my age, you will find yourself including in gym workouts those exercises that strengthen your balance. Why? Because we old folks fall a lot. Goes with the territory.

I pretty much hate losing my balance. And my memory. So I now practice standing on one foot and writing things down. Any other suggestions you wish to pass along?

There are other areas in life where we are also inclined to fall or fail if we lose our balance. Psychologically, we can all become unbalanced without respect for age. We lean too far emotionally in one direction or another and, to catch our balance, we compensate in some way. We swing too far in one direction and then are prone to over-reaction in the other.

You may know about the disease of bipolar depression, where the lows of extreme depression and despair are met with the highs of mania and delusion. You may know about the disease of obsessive compulsion, where the over-thinking of a fear is met with the over-acting to protect against that fear. In the same way, anger can become a means to compensate against fear. We rage against the outrageous in ways that over-protect ourselves. We become like human pendulums swinging from one mood and behavioral extreme to the other.

Our political process now in America is currently undergoing a balancing maneuver heading toward a likely populist election. Rhetoric that balances fascism with socialism is an effort to catch one’s political balance, for fear of failing and falling as a nation. Our economic markets exchange bulls for bears as currency becomes too loose after being too tight. And social systems large and small find themselves teetering between boundaries too rigid or too flexible. All in an effort to protect against a fall or collapse. Our psycho-social functions aim at catching our balance, a noble end even if we too often employ a dysfunctional means. When we over-correct as humans, we’ve been known to cause the very fall……or car wreck……we are trying to avoid.

Such examples of human over-reaction or over-compensation imply, at the very least, our need for a more functional alternative. Some middle ground in between extremes. Those of us who advocate for such and call ourselves moderates or centrists have a way of ticking off folks on both sides of any argument. As if we were medics wearing a red cross like a bullseye, making ourselves the first to be shot in battle.

Now at the risk of being shot at on this page, I’m going to try taking on the longest running religious argument of all time. That is, if there is a God, then why doesn’t that God take control and stop people from suffering or making others suffer? This battle between the extreme of all and the counter-extreme of nothing is well intended to protect us and catch our balance. Much like the contest between anxiety and rage, we answer questions of fear with answers of fury. We strike back, fighting fire with fire, missiles with missiles, bombs with bombs. Lest we fall.

If the flip-side of fear is anger, then the flip-side of anger is fear. War answers our fears only to then cause our fear of war itself. To over-correct is to bring about the very fall we were hoping to avoid. We’re like a car wreck waiting to happen as we crank the wheel in an opposite direction. And where religion is concerned, to trust a God who is in total control is to then find ourselves out of control and in over-reaction, some would say rebellion, against that God. Our fear of the Lord is the beginning of our running away from or else battling against Him for the sake of our self-control and survival. We call that fight or flight, or some would say sin.

So here are my questions.

What if we instead placed our faith in the God who is too wise to over-react or over-compensate? Too smart to take control away from us and think this would somehow prevent our fall? What if instead of turning to a God of fearful control, we prayed to a God of loving influence? One who in response to our despair took neither ours nor the opposite side but rather stayed in the middle, the center of it all? One who leaned in, not out?

Yes, it seems counter-intuitive to worship the God who stayed on the cross instead of assuming control and breaking free. Yet, in so doing Jesus didn’t fall or fail. He overcame the fall. He showed us how to keep ourselves from falling. God’s way of revealing everything we need to know about.................. catching our balance.

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