10 August 2007

In Search of Homeostasis

Regular visitors to my little corner of the blogosphere will notice that the look of this site is changing a bit. I'm cleaning things up and changing the look of things ever so slightly. Much like my new home in which I arrange and rearrange, and then rearrange yet again, I am up to the same work here. So don't be surprised if a picture you see now is relocated or removed, or elements shift and change.

You will notice that in the right-hand column, some elements have been removed and new items have been added: a few of my favorite photos from the summer so far, some additional quotes and pictures that inspire me, and a short list of resources for those who, like me, are learning to live with food sensitivities.

I've been thinking on the concept of equilibrium a lot lately. Much has been changing in my life over the last several months, and I am desperate for balance, a steadying of the sloshing back and forth.

Before finding my academic home in the English department at Biola, I was a biochemistry major. I had strengths in both fields and both studies fascinate me endlessly, to be honest. As a biochemistry major, I loved learning in detail about the workings of living systems and was filled with wonder at the excruciating detail and care with which God made us.

Scientifically speaking, eqilibrium is about regulating balance in a living or non-living system through a constant level of change between competing forces. Homeostasis refers to equilibrium within living systems; in biological organisms like ourselves, homeostasis requires the dynamic action and interaction of many bodily systems to maintain constancy. This action and interaction allows us to function in a wide variety of environmental conditions. In other words, homeostasis allows us to maintain balance and constancy no matter how our surroundings change. It is the slowing of homeostasis that causes aging, decay, and eventually physical death.

Prior posts have detailed how much my life has changed recently: I've been uprooted from a home, a job, and a significant relationship. New things have taken their places: a new home (and new roommates), a new and wonderful job, and new friendships that have me wondering why I held so tightly to the tatters of one that left me feeling depleted and devalued. Even though the changes in my environment have been entirely positive, it still requires a certain amount of energy to adapt to the gone-ness of those old things and to the laying ahold of the new.

In truth, I'm continuing to learn what this means. For now, I know it means moving from living alone to living into community, adapting to an entirely new role in my work, and being grateful to find friends to whom I can reveal my truest and unedited self. It means seeing myself with new eyes. It means I must be vigilant about my own self-care and it means I must seek out rest and rejuvenation.

What I know for certain is this: when our environments change (even when it is for the better), it takes energy to adjust to and maintain balance in our altered surroundings. And so I find the need for rest as I adapt to a new home, new work, and new relationships. I am excessively happy in my new milieus, but I am also tired. I need rest and I crave constancy.

I find it ironic that the more my life is in flux, the less likely I am to seek the rest that Christ promises to those who seek it from Him. As I collapse into bed and cocoon myself in my sheets at the end of the day, body limp with relief and eyelids fluttering on the edges of exhaustion, there are times I find that I am barely able to offer a prayer of thanks for having made it there. I know I err in focusing my energies toward the change instead of the One who does not change.

Why do I resist the rest He freely offers me? A bubble bath, a nap, a glass of wine: these are easy. The superficial ways of seeking rest require no sacrifice on my part, no surrender of self; these are simple self-indulgence. These small pleasures have their places, but are unable give me the deep soul-rest and balance I desire. I believe the rest Jesus offers me requires me to offer Him my heart, loosed from its bony armor, exposed and throbbing in its need, laid at His feet.

Here, I would say. Here it is. Lead me into green pastures and beside still waters. Restore my soul.

But still I resist, even knowing life will only settle into equilibrium when I allow Him to bring it there. I believe rest will come when for once, I learn to surrender not to the activity, not to the busy-ness, not to the task. I won’t find it on a soft bed or immersed in a tub brimming with scented bubbles. I will find it in the arms of the Good Shepherd, entirely surrendered, relinquishing the control I awkwardly and fumblingly try to maintain over my own life.

So Jesus still whispers, Come to me. I will give you rest. Everything around you will change, shift, move. But I am constant. I am your balance. I offer a rest deeper than your deepest sleep; I am the stability you seek. I am the center, and I do not move.


  1. It is so easy to just go from moment-to-moment or from activity-to-activity without taking the rest we need to reach that equilibrium. And it is easy to forget to rest in His presence...and goodness we could all use a little rest once and a while. (:

  2. Kirsten, I don't think I am going out on a limb, after being a casual reader of your blog for a while, that this rest you describe comes from the motion in your life of being fully alive to change, to risk, to challenge (ending a relationship, new job, new digs) and embracing the gifts around you (I think of the photos of your family and friends, flowers, strawberries. "Dynamic action and interaction..."

    You are really engaged, really listening, seeing with more than your eyes. Fully surrendered and fully alive—a dangerous combination to the enemy of our souls, don't you think?

    Beautiful post, thanks for sharing.

  3. Kaari -- so, so true!! You have certainly been witness to that. :o)

    23 Degrees -- Thank you for your kind & insightful comment. That has to be the one of the more poignant and discerning comments anyone has left on this blog. I never even saw the new photographs & layout of evidence of the dynamic action & interaction currently going on in my life ... you are so, so right!

    And yes, I do believe that this is one thing the enemy of our souls is after -- he does not want us to be fully engaged & alive!

    Thanks again for visiting. :o)

  4. Another beautiful post, Kirsten! I hope to hear more as you learn what it means to experience the rest of Jesus.

    Side note: Have you ever heard of the moive Equilibrium? It is a sci-fi flick starring Christian Bale (who I have loved sinced Newsies) and Taye Diggs (also not a bad looking fellow). Anyway, it is set in a future where people have chosen to live without emotion inorder to protect themselves from war. I think you would find it intriguing.

  5. wow, kirsten....so beautifully put. and something i've been struggling with, too...amidst all the changes in my life.

    i will re-read this as it is something i need to absorb and think about, thank you....

  6. I, too, was moved by this post, Kirsten, but don't have many more thoughts to offer than what has already been offered above. 23 Degrees's comment is especially illuminating and uplifting.

    I'm glad you are searching out rest.

  7. Oh, hey Christin and Kirsten . . . wander over to Heather Goodman's blog (www.heathergoodman.blogspot.com) and check out her latest post. It's a review of this exact movie, Equilibrium. I'd never heard of it when I read your comment here, Christin, but got thoroughly intrigued after reading Heather's review (without spoilers) today. Good timing! :)

  8. Rest. I need it too. And summer calls us to that in seductive ways.