Balance. By Tori VanderPloeg
Recently, I learned a very important lesson on balance. Let me set the stage for you...

On June 30th, 2020, as I was walking through the mall with my family, sipping on a delicious cookies and cream milkshake, my doctor called. “Tori, your A1C was quite high. You have Type 2 diabetes.” Milkshake meet trash can.

That diagnosis was pretty jarring for me as a 23-year-old, first time mom, living with her parents, in the midst of a pandemic. I quickly went from one extreme to another. In 3 months, I lost close to 25 pounds. My A1C was back in normal range by October and I worked out 4-5 times a week for an hour at least. From daily 32 ounces of Dr. Pepper to less than 12 grams of carbs in every single meal. Then I got pregnant with my second. Pregnancy hormones and my body didn’t quite agree and my diabetes became impossible to manage through diet and exercise alone. After so much work, it was defeating to walk through a high risk pregnancy ultimately ending in an induction at 38 weeks to get my baby girl out of her sugar filled home.

Following my delivery with her, I struggled to find balance once again. Carb counting was discouraging and impossible while also breastfeeding and taking care of a busy 3-year-old. The days I worked hard to balance my numbers, my sugar would crash. I was left many times shoving my sons fruit snacks in as quickly as I could to increase my sugar while shaking like a leaf and struggling to see straight. Then the next morning I would be left with high numbers that made me feel like a failure once again. I quickly realized the extreme I had jumped to when I was first diagnosed was not sustainable long term. And ignoring my bodies needs also wasn't bringing anything into balance. So I sought out some help.

And that’s when a new perspective on balance was introduced to me that changed a lot of my thinking... Now, I am talking about food for a minute here but don’t get caught up in that. This all has a point!

 In our first meeting, my nutritionist asked me to talk her through what I would consider a “perfect and balanced” meal. With my Type 2 restrictions in mind, I described what breakfast I went to most days. Eggs, ham, and cheese with a tall glass of water. Proud of my answer, I was shocked at how she responded.

She told me I needed to be ADDING to my meals!? What??

In my first diabetic education meeting it became clear to me to overcome this disease it would take elimination. Elimination of carbs, sugar, and basically anything that could possibly cause my numbers to spike. And here, 2 years after my diagnosis, I am sitting with a woman who is telling me to ADD to my plate!? Honestly, I wondered for a minute if she understood my disease at all? There is no way I could achieve balance in my blood sugar numbers by ADDING things to my diet.

But I listened closely as she talked. She talked me through what all my body needed to be balanced. I need carbs and sugar for energy throughout my day.  I need fats to help soak up some of it and not allow my body to digest it too fast causing a spike. Proteins would help the digestion also slow down while sustaining my body for longer spurts of time. Throw in some fiber and I may actually begin to feel full after breakfast. Many foods I'd been avoiding for years were actually a huge component to what would bring balance into my numbers and overall health. So I tried it.

 Putting aside my typical protein only mindset,  I took my time thoughtfully preparing a meal that included every single component I needed. Then 2 hours later, as I sat with my blood sugar monitor, expecting to see numbers through the roof I was shocked. My sugar was actually in range. By adding something to my plate, I achieved balance in my body.

For days, I couldn’t stop talking about all the things my nutritionist had shared with me (ask anyone in my family she literally blew my mind). Then I realized this simple principle applied to so much else in my life.

Achieving balance in our lives doesn’t mean elimination of things. Lots of times, achieving balance in our lives actually involves the need to add to our plate.

We can quickly feel out of balance in many areas. Life can feel busy and impossible to keep up on. Work can take every second of our day and thought life. Finances can feel tight and out of whack. Relationships can feel all consuming or completely non-existent. Balance can feel out of reach.

Often, as soon as we begin to feel this tug of being unbalanced we look for a solution knowing if we go on too long, we will crash. So the question is asked. What do I need to eliminate to feel more balanced? Maybe we decide a tight and strict budget needs to be enforced. We need to say no to social gatherings. Or, an activity needs to be cut from our schedule like Lifegroup or midweek church or maybe even our daily Bible reading. We eliminate things to feel balanced. Sometimes we go so far we “throw the baby out with the bath water” and quit even the things that bring us joy.

Now, I want to be clear while there is a time and place for things to be cut and dropped. I just want to explore another side of this.

What if the next time you felt unbalanced you added something to your life? Feeling like life just won’t slow down? Have you considered adding a time of prayer to your morning to lift up the coming day?  Pray about the busyness ahead and for a heart of joy and contentment as you walk through this season. Are your finances in a tough spot? What if you added a study on Biblical wisdom? Trusting God completely with our money can make numbers add up in a way they haven't before. Have you added tithe and generosity to your weekly budget? Maybe your relationships are feeling all over the place? What if you added a weekly Lifegroup where you forced yourself to do life with people and you committed to only missing when absolutely necessary? Adding consistent fellowship to our lives can allow us to thrive in new ways.

When my nutritionist suggested adding things it didn't seem right to me. I even told her I wasn’t sold on the idea and honestly the thought of adding to my plate made me feel a little sick to my stomach. I truly couldn’t see how it would work. While the idea sounded nice, I figured I would be back the next week to report how awful it went. But instead I saw balance.

You might be reading this thinking- You don’t know my situation, I just don’t have the time. I’m way too tired to get up any earlier and pray. Or I am barely making ends meet. I simply cannot afford too tithe. You don’t understand this “disease” I’m currently walking through. I hear you. I’ve been in many of those places.

I can tell you this. Adding time and trust in the Lord will always bring balance to your life. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Balance.

When we allow the spirit to be added to our lives through prayer, worship, fellowship and study we are given a lot of tools that help in the craziest of situations and circumstances. Suddenly, everything you are encountering today can feel so much different by simply adding more Jesus.
Stop jumping from one extreme to another.

I challenge you, friend, to seek balance in your life this fall by adding something rather than eliminating what feels hard. See what life feels like as you experience the fruit of the spirit at work in your life. And know you’re not alone. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so out of balance then I have this summer. But, I’ve prayed and identified areas where I want to add new rhythms this coming season. I’m believing for a season of breakthrough in my own life. I pray you join me.

What do you need to add to your life in this new season?
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Pastor Brian - August 31st, 2022 at 7:56pm

That was such a great word Tori! Let’s all consider what we can “ADD”! Amen.

Dawn - September 1st, 2022 at 1:56pm

Does this mean we're going out for ice cream tonight.........probably not:) This is fantastic and a great way to bring balance.

Darlys - September 1st, 2022 at 6:04pm

Good points to ponder!