Last year when renowned journalist Soledad O'Brien gave a lecture at Birmingham's Alys Stephens Center one audience member asked her a question often asked of highly successful women who juggle busy careers with motherhood: How do you balance it all?
O'Brien's answer was quite simple. "I don't," she said.
O'Brien went on to explain that sometimes she has to pour her whole self into her work and at those times she's probably a crappy mom. But at other times she puts work on hold so she can focus solely on her family, even if that makes her a bad journalist in the eyes of others. She said she realized she can't always be great at all her roles in this world and that's OK.
Her words reminded me of a profound statement I'd heard a month or so previously, also spoken by a woman juggling a career with motherhood. During a panel discussion at the 2013 Blogalicious conference Aliah Davis McHenry -- a blogger, PR pro, wife and mother -- was asked the key to balance. She leaned into the microphone and said, "Balance is a unicorn."
The crowd erupted into laughter and applause.
I found both O'Brien and McHenry's words quite comforting. Even though I am not a mom I am a wife, daughter, sister and friend and I often feel as if I'm failing the people in my life because I'm so busy building my business, writing and teaching career. And when I do spend time with family and friends I often feel I'm slacking on my professional life. So with their words I let myself off the hook.
But then I started to wonder if this was a godly approach to life. Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right? So doesn't this mean I should be able to achieve balance?
This summer I've been co-leading a small group of women through the book Restless by Jennie Allen, a book all about discovering and walking in purpose. And this book has revealed to me that when you're walking in your purpose things can get messy.
In a section written by Allen's husband Zac, he writes, "God never promises balance."
God promises us that if we are walking in our true purpose we will have peace, but this doesn't mean life will always be orderly and neat.
Zac explains that what you, what I, what we have been calling balance was really a determined effort to control our lives at all costs. But God is in control. And, again, God never promises balance.
This life we're living now that we are pursuing our passions, this life that feels chaotic, is likely a symptom of a person attempting to follow God, a person attempting to run after her dreams.