I’m going on a cruise in December, so naturally in my bone-weary state today I found myself wondering how boats stay afloat. I’m sure it’s all very complicated really, because when I did try and Google it I found I was bored pretty quickly. But one word stuck out to me when I was thinking about staying afloat and that is the word, Ballast.
A quick Google, and the definition found was thus:
heavy material, such as gravel, sand, or iron, placed in the bilge of a ship to ensure its stability.
"the hull had insufficient ballast"
give stability to (a ship) by putting a heavy substance in its bilge.
"the vessel has been ballasted to give the necessary floating stability"
A ballast ensures stability. This had me asking only one question.
What is the ballast in my life?
It quickly got me thinking about all the things that bring stability to my life, things like family, friends, God, work, exercise, having key support people. It also makes me think about everything that makes me happy, because ultimately that happiness and joy also brings me great stability. So naturally I find myself sitting here thinking about daylight savings (which I LOVE!), puppies, ice-cream, writing, reading, my sponsor child, mentors, donuts, adventures, plants, swimming. The list could be endless.
But it’s not all sunshine, puppies, and roses. Life is difficult sometimes, and it is in those moments that we need to rely more heavily on our ballast – those things that keep us stable.
I understand that sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to stay afloat. Storms can hit out of nowhere, and suddenly you’re taking on water and you feel like you’re drowning.
Hear me today, everyone at Oh My Grief knows what that feels like.
We have all experienced storms, we have all taken on water,
and we have all felt like we were drowning.
Everyone’s experiences are different, but we know what it’s like to feel stuck in that position wondering if this is the time the storm will sink the boat.
I might be young in years still, but I have taken on water more times
than I can count now and it doesn’t really get any easier
with time or experience.
Every time I feel buffeted I have to make conscious decisions to stay afloat, I have to lean on my ballast, and I have to find a reserve within me that is full of goodness, of grace, of freedom, and of peace. This is the way I have learned (and am still learning) to buffet the storm, to stay stable in its midst.
My message is a simple one today, and I ask only this; what does your ballast look like? What is it that is keeping you afloat right now?
There is no time like the present to start working out what your ballast is; what it is that is keeping you stable, keeping you healthy, keeping you afloat. If you are struggling to know where to start I recommend the following;
1. Think about what makes you happy
The things that make you happiest are often stored closest to your heart, and you can draw on them when you are in tough times to give renewed strength.
2. Think about the things that invigorate you
We all have those things that we are passionate about, and that whenever we talk or think about them provide us with new life and energy. These things, whatever they may be for you, can be stored away in your heart as a ballast for when times get tough.
3. Think about your family and friends
This one speaks for itself; think about who among your family and friends keeps you the most stable, peaceful, or at ease. Who is it among them that have always served as a bit of an anchor, a safe place to fall? I would imagine these same people form part of your ballast and help keep you steady.
4. Think about your faith
Sometimes the only thing that held me together through some of my own storms was my faith in God. I’ll be honest when I say that sometimes in the storm my faith did waver, but God’s faith in me never did. He hung on to me even when I felt like I was letting go. Maybe for you, your faith might serve as a ballast to help keep you stable, afloat, steady in the storm around you.
There are many more things that can serve as part of your ballast, but these four give you somewhere to start. I think once you start investigating your own ballast you will find a safe list of things that you can cling on to during the storm. And when the storm clears, they will be the same things propelling you forward.
By Danielle Myers