On June 15, Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls. With a worldwide TV audience accompanying a crowd of 100,000 spectators at the falls, he safely crossed 200 feet above the raging waters, which took about a half hour. Nik is the latest celebrity from the famous Wallenda family, who I’m guessing have some special DNA (extra guts and a shortage of brain cells!) to have accomplished all those incredible balancing stunts over the years.
I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted a balancing act of a more reasonable sort, like walking across a playground plank a foot off the ground, or on a log over a creek or even walking on a line in the carpet without falling off. There are a few tricks we can learn to make balancing easier. If you look straight down at your feet, it’s physically harder to keep your balance while you walk. But, if you focus your vision on a spot out in front of you about 8-10 feet, suddenly your body finds it easier to walk without wobbling. There’s a scientific explanation for this, but hey, this isn’t a science blog, so I’ll leave it at that. It seems counter intuitive at first, but after applying this approach, you’ll be sold on how much easier it is to keep your balance.
Another key to successfully completing your balancing act is in your thoughts. If your mind believes you can, your body will follow. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “If you think you can, you’re probably right. If you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” It’s so much easier if you center your thoughts on the positive. In fact, it’s a very good chance you’ll fall off if you don’t.
So, what about the emotional and spiritual balancing acts we all are challenged with each day? Life knocks us down, messes with our balance, and on top of that, the enemy delights in wreaking havoc in our spirits. The same solutions apply that work in physical balancing, I think.
1) Keep your focus out in front of you, past the immediate situation. In other words, take a long view of your journey, and the present challenge will be easier to handle. For instance, in the moment a flat tire can cause us to pop a cork emotionally, but it’s not that big of a deal when we consider how blessed you are to have a car, and how difficult life would be without one.
2) Keep the mind focused positively, and combat negative darts. In Philippians 4:7, we find this encouragement: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
I do much better when I begin my day by asking God to remind me as often as necessary that there’s nothing I can’t handle with His help. I deal with the stuff that tries to knock me off balance (or knock me down) a lot better when I’m focused on God’s power to guide me through. We can all choose what we will think about, though it may take practice to train our minds.
Even if your last name isn’t Wallenda, you can be successful at keeping your balance where it matters most- in your soul.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.