River Rocks in Balance by Tara Bartal

Unbalance. Chaos. Disharmony. Stress. Messy. U-Haul boxes.

I am preparing for my move and stress is hitting me like a ton of bricks. I am getting ready to change my whole life. Wait. I have just changed my whole life. I quit my job. I am officially becoming a full time student, on-campus. I have never done this before. When I studied to go into commercial art I went to a community college. I was twenty-something when I finished. I had an Associates Degree and for commercial art that was actually enough to get out there and find a job. Anyway, this is a whole lot different than when I was twenty-something. Energy is probably a key word here. I don’t have a whole lot of it.

What am I supposed to learn in the midst of stress? Why does change have to be stressful? Because I love harmony, I guess. I love knowing where things are and that everything has its place and is in correct order.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking

I can adapt to the change. It is going through the change and trying to maintain a feeling of normalcy that is difficult. The year 2020 will never be remembered as normal so, I think this is also affecting my feelings of unbalance.

I find it to be a funny trait of human beings. At one time we used to be foragers. Now we like to have a place where we “nest,” so to speak. It is comfortable and gives a sense of home and belonging when things are familiar and established. I want to be able to go to the kitchen and use a utensil that is not plastic. I want to open a cabinet and see my dishes because I am home and that makes me comfortable. I want to be able to get up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom without tripping over boxes.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV

Jesus didn’t have a permanent residence when he began his ministry. As a matter of fact, I believe he started in a desert. So, what is my problem? Expectation. This is the educational element of every change. What one expects is not what one always gets. When I don’t get what I expect to receive then upset is likely to happen. It’s the same with promises. Someone promises to do this or that or to be there at a certain time and then they fail to keep their promise. It’s upsetting.

How does one live without any expectations? If your expecting the plumber to show up and fix a leak then that would be a reasonable expectation, right?

Sometimes I think I put too much expectation in life events. I have a new beginning and I want/expect from myself, perfection. Like starting a new job. Optimism fills the air on the first day and lots of smiles and friendliness. Everything is awesomeness! And then…

You start fulfilling your tasks, doing what is your job then you’re questioned, then you have to deal with a disagreement, then the other person, who you thought was going to be the most awesome person to work with, fights you tooth and nail over everything you decide to do/or change. Ugh. Here we go again. Another new beginning fail. Gossip ensues and before you know it, your pristine reputation as a nice, friendly person goes to ****. But, you believe in what you are doing and that you are right so, you stand up for yourself. Divisions occur and it is unavoidable. When decisions have to be made not everyone is going to walk away happy. I have lived this scenario many times over and with every new beginning I take a deep breath and try to believe that this time it will be different.

At this moment in time, at the age of 50, it will be different. I think I have grown enough to be more careful with the battles I choose to fight and the ones I choose to walk away from. I also don’t think it’s necessary to be a doormat and be a loving Christian. I think the expectations of what love is and what it looks like in everyday life are set too simply. Love can be simple but not necessarily easy. Love is preached like it is as simple as water through a sifter. It doesn’t work like that. Not at all. The hardest, most painful loves that I have known have been those people I have been the closest to. Family.

I used the word didactic for this post. I used it because of its ulterior motive to teach. I sometimes feel like when I am going through a hard time, that is the moment to consider God. What is God doing in the midst of this? It isn’t that God is the cause but, perhaps, God is the manipulator.

I consider this passage of life to be the ever evolving journey of my soul to develop, grow and increase for the next life. I have never been perfect and never will be. Only through Christ am I made clean. I have had people put their expectations on me to be what they think I should be instead of accepting me for who I am. When I tried to live up to those expectations, I was always a failure. This is the new beginning. When I begin to realize my humanity and how limited I am then God can become big. Then I become a new thing in God’s creation.

Is it edifying to adjust to change? Yes. It is also edifying to learn to let go of what cannot be controlled. People. Situations. Unrealistic expectations.


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969, American Heritage Publishing Co., INC. and Houghton Mifflin Company

While looking up the meaning of independence in an old dictionary, it seemed so simply put. The 4th of July that I have known all my life has consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and dip and the occasional beach trip. Its a time of hot, sweaty afternoons, sunburns, the smell of suntan lotion and bug spray. It’s the smell of charcoal on the grill. It contains the sounds of fireworks through the night that wake you up because your neighbors can’t wait to blow up something that lasts a few seconds and cost them $30 or more. It’s the sound of children playing outside with screams and laughter and eventually, someone will start crying. Hopefully it’s not the parent. 😉 This is 4th of July for most Americans.

I went back to the National Archives to read about the Declaration of Independence and it made me ponder the reality of the dangerous times these people were living in. It also made me ponder the ways in which America was founded. In some ways, with social distancing and grave errors of humanity being brought to the forefront of our thoughts and attention, we are being made great. Not again, but, maybe, made better than what we were before. That is my hope and prayer this Independence Day.

Freedom is the word that is focused upon today and well, yes. Freedom is a complicated thing. Living in a world of needing technology in order to get through the day is not necessarily freedom. Living in a world of “toiling the soil” to survive is not necessarily freedom. So, I don’t focus on physical freedom because my soul has freedom and my mind has freedom even though my flesh and its environment may not necessarily be truly free. My heart is free to love and that is the freedom that surpasses understanding. It is that love that I have to continually work towards daily. I am still on a path and will be till the day I die so, I have not reached ultimate freedom. I have much work to do. I have much work ahead of me. I think we all do.

Independence in this world is a sense of freedom. Independence is following the beat of one’s own drum and being permitted the freedom to do so. In America’s Declaration of Independence, we were made a great land of high risk for failure but, also, high opportunity to be whatever we wanted to be. With that, this country was worth fighting for. A land of controversy and a land of hope.

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them.

2 Peter 2:19 NRSV

I am thankful to have been born in this land of freedom. I look forward to the smell of burgers on the grill this 4th of July. Thankful to those who made the initial declaration of a land where there is opportunity for independence and freedom. I will take time to reflect on ALL the lives, known and unknown, who took up the challenge, made the sacrifices and made America an independent nation.