Why I Don't Believe in Balance

Monday, June 27, 2016


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.

5 comments:

  1. Excellent post.

    It's got me thinking.

    Of course, you've heard women say, "Nobody asks men, 'How do you do it all'" And that is very true. Nobody does. But thing that gets to me is that men can stand up at a microphone, after 30 years of service in the Senate or something, and say publicly that he worked 80 hours a week, that his wife did virtually all the raising of children, and nobody will ever claim he was a bad father - even though he was. (A light kind of went on in my head when I heard an actual senator give this actual retirement speech a few years ago)

    Rarely will anyone claim that a man was a bad parent IF HIS JOB is either very powerful or earning him and his family millions of dollars per year -- not even those who like to wag their fingers at mothers (but not fathers) who don't worship "balance."

    There are supposed to be two parents, last I heard. A mom and a dad may not be interchangeable in their functions and their talents. And that's probably a good thing. But when one PARENT busy and not there for the child, the other parent should make themselves unbusy and present. And hopefully the unbusy and present parent is not ALWAYS the same person.

    A child needs BOTH parents to be parents, yes?

    When two people are functioning as partners and parents --once the mother separates from the child after birthing and breast feeding-- there really shouldn't be a reason for a mother to feel guilty because she's not with her children 24/7. That's what husbands, mothers, in-laws, and the rest of the village is for, yes?

    The reasonable reason to feel guilty, I would think, is when your child barely recognizes you and doesn't seek comfort from you, because you've become a virtual stranger due to being at work all the time. When fathers learn to feel this same reasonable guilt for the same reason, we'll all be better off --- and more Godly as well.

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    Replies
    1. I COMPLETELY agree with you. I rant about this often even though I'm not a parent because I see how painful this double standard is for the women in my life who are mothers. And yes, it takes a village!

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment!

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  2. Excellent post.

    It's got me thinking.

    Of course, you've heard women say, "Nobody asks men, 'How do you do it all'" And that is very true. Nobody does. But thing that gets to me is that men can stand up at a microphone, after 30 years of service in the Senate or something, and say publicly that he worked 80 hours a week, that his wife did virtually all the raising of children, and nobody will ever claim he was a bad father - even though he was. (A light kind of went on in my head when I heard an actual senator give this actual retirement speech a few years ago)

    Rarely will anyone claim that a man was a bad parent IF HIS JOB is either very powerful or earning him and his family millions of dollars per year -- not even those who like to wag their fingers at mothers (but not fathers) who don't worship "balance."

    There are supposed to be two parents, last I heard. A mom and a dad may not be interchangeable in their functions and their talents. And that's probably a good thing. But when one PARENT busy and not there for the child, the other parent should make themselves unbusy and present. And hopefully the unbusy and present parent is not ALWAYS the same person.

    A child needs BOTH parents to be parents, yes?

    When two people are functioning as partners and parents --once the mother separates from the child after birthing and breast feeding-- there really shouldn't be a reason for a mother to feel guilty because she's not with her children 24/7. That's what husbands, mothers, in-laws, and the rest of the village is for, yes?

    The reasonable reason to feel guilty, I would think, is when your child barely recognizes you and doesn't seek comfort from you, because you've become a virtual stranger due to being at work all the time. When fathers learn to feel this same reasonable guilt for the same reason, we'll all be better off --- and more Godly as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, I am also believe that God tries to teach us this through creation. You are completely right! The post is worth reading! Use proofreading-services.org/ to be more informed about writing. Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent post. You are so right. God does not promise us balance, if there is such a thing. We just have to know that no matter how far the scales tip to one side or the other that they will keep tipping from one side to the other. Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, happiness and sadness. That is probably what true balance is, a little bit of both. But regardless of where your scale falls at any given time God is there with you. Is your Faith Stronger than you Fear? http://www.iam-definedbyme.com/is-your-faith-stronger-than-your-fear/

    ReplyDelete