A few years ago I had the honor of attending a lecture by renowned journalist Soledad O'Brien. During the Q&A period of O’Brien’s talk an 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 said 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.
BALANCE IS A UNICORN
O'Brien's words reminded me of a profound statement I'd heard a month or so previously, also spoken by another woman juggling a career with motherhood. During a panel discussion at the 2013 Blogalicious conference Aliah Davis McHenry — a blogger, PR pro, wife and — 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's 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 and my blog along with my writing and teaching careers. And when I do spend time with family and friends I often feel I'm slacking on my professional life. But with their words I decided to let myself off the hook.
Personally, I hate the phrase “work/life balance.” It implies that our work can’t be life-giving and that living doesn’t take hard work, neither of which is true.
GOD NEVER PROMISES BALANCE
When I first began to boldly proclaim that I don't believe in balance, several of the Christian women in my life scolded my declaration, telling me this was not a godly attitude. I felt guilty and ashamed.
Then I read 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."
I believe that 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.
I believe God tries to teach us this through creation. We can learn a lot about how to live our lives by paying attention to nature and this is why I’m a huge proponent of seeing our lives as a collection of seasons. Mother Earth isn’t sprouting flowers and bathing us in sunshine 365 days a year. Sometimes she has to retreat into winter and though we find her cold during those months, this time is necessary if she is going to give us spring.
Hi! I'm Javacia -- teacher by day, blogger by night, feminist 24/7. Welcome to the Writeous Babe Project, a blog about writing, wellness, and women's empowerment. I want to encourage women to write and live a life worth writing about. I want to be the author of my own life and empower you to do the same.