The term work/life balance has been tossed around for the past three decades as a bar to exceed in order to achieve true “happiness” and “success’’. If you google work/life balance you get over 50 million results…really! Can you imagine the variation of definitions we could find? However, I think many of us translate work/life balance into “doing it all”. We strive to be great at our jobs, wonderful spouses, and doting parents while we are providing service to our community, growing spiritually and staying physically fit. Phew!!
I used to log 60+ hours in the corporate world consistently. I had a career that was successfully growing by both the world’s and my standards. Then I began to read that to stay competitive in the business world you must continue your education and/or professional development. Oh, and by the way, I was getting close to 30 so my biological clock was ticking. At one point I was working my 60+ hours, finishing up my MBA and weeks away from delivering my first child. Technically I was balanced. I was getting it all done and probably because of my foolish youth still enjoying life.
With this strategy I was not considering the cumulative factor. Soon, I was promoted to more responsibility and giving birth to twins. But my 2 year old daughter was still a factor and my husband and the bigger house…. Now to have work/life balance I look like a clown trying to juggle or keep all of the plates spinning. Ultimately, it’s an illusion, and I began to feel that I was unsuccessful because I couldn’t achieve a completely balanced equation.
The Storybook Life
There are quite a few people in addition to myself who would like:
- A satisfying, well-compensated, and upwardly mobile career.
- To have a wonderful, intimate and growing marriage.
- To be parents to 2-3 children.
- A beautiful, roomy house that the family can grow in.
- To actively serve and worship in an incredibly spirit-filled church.
- To be a part of a group of friends or small group that is living life together.
(Not everyone wants this, but there are quite a few who may paint this picture.)
A Kingdom View
What I would like to suggest is a different perspective all together. This was the perspective that saved me.
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I have listened to many sermons on these verses and the rest of this chapter in Ecclesiastes. Since coming to Christ, I believe now that life is eternal. God planned for us to be drawn to many desires in life of which as I have described above, I am. But, in my twenties, and well into my thirties, I had a limit on time and a narrow definition of success. I didn’t attempt to distinguish what success looked like to God vs. “the world” I was living in. If time was as limited as we see it then God needs to get busy perfecting us and not take a lifetime of experiences, struggles, victories, joys, jobs, and relationships to accomplish His mission.
God’s Path is Perfect
A balanced life to me now is to follow God’s path for me and during my earthly time:
- Utilize my gifts and talents to glorify God and grow his Kingdom.
- Love God and Others.
- Become one with my spouse and exemplify God’s plan for marriage.
- Be good stewards of the children God blesses us with.
- Give back and serve the Lord through a local church, mission, etc.
- Learn and grow intellectual, spiritually and relationally.
Can all of this occur simultaneously? It can, but it doesn’t have to. And without the confines of my prior life’s definitions many of these areas begin to overlap and can miraculously happen as we follow God’s will for our life.
During the past decade I know that “my season” is as wife and mother. So I did quit the corporate world and the 60+ hours. Instead God blessed me with a new career in the counseling and coaching arena where I can serve Him, use my gifts and talents He gave me, and have time to focus on the current season of “FAMILY” that I am in today. Now with my daughter turning 16, I am starting to see the leaves change. She wants to be more independent and it actually frustrates her to have a Mom sitting home worrying about her. My twins are 14 and as my husband said only last week “We don’t need to arrange Bozo the Clown for their Birthday Party.” Soon enough the season will change and hopefully I can gracefully transition to the next “activity under heaven” that will be a piece of the tapestry of a well-balanced life.
Are you still struggling to keep all of the plates spinning? Are you willing to follow God’s plan and “bloom where your planted” for this season of your life?
Debbie Gilster says
What a nice reminder! Balance is what we make of it and it is SO easy to forget that our season in life has an affect we must deal with. Learning to trust that it is part of God’s plan reduces some of the stress.
Hugs and blessings,
Candy Troutman says
Hello Sue ~
What an amazing post. Your blog sounds very much like mine. My heart’s cry is that young families will change their focus from cultural activity-driven lives to Kingdom-driven values.
I found you on NetworkedBlogs on FB. I’ll certainly enjoy following you.
Ponscella Cousins says
I work for a nonprofit whose main focus is work/life balance, but it is not a Christian organization. Yet it has helped me to serve God more than if I had stayed in corporate America. I found myself giving birth at 40 and single. I had already raised a daughter who was starting her first year at college. To make a long story short, I prayed hard about how to raise this child without working 60 hour workweeks? After her birth I found permanent part-time work in a major hospital and thus began my inner city ministry of helping women in crises.
Five years later I began working for the nonprofit as a part time virtual assistant, and that was 9 years ago. My youngest is 16 and we are in the process of looking at colleges, and in the course of the past 9 years, I have been ordained a missionary.
Reading your article just reminded me of how wonderful our Lord is and how important it is to seek after God’s plan for our lives. Even after you feel like you have blown it. So many things I thought I would have and do in my 40’s are just starting to come about in my late 50’s. It is my season.
I am very grateful that I serve the true and living God; because over the years I have watched the feminists I work with strive so hard to be on top and have it all. It was such freedom to come to the realization 17 years ago, that I no longer had to strive in my strength.
Linda S. Fitzgerald says
I am a very ‘vintage’ woman who did not discover the passion and purpose He has for me until I was in my late 60’s. I have been prone to ask him “why”. . . why such a late in life start to the achievement of my destiny? Then I recall that Moses was 80 before the Lord called him into what was Moses ultimate life destiny.
On the other hand, I believe that the time has come for a very different approach to “sharing the Lord and His Word”. I believe the time has come for “marketplace ministry” and I hesitate to even use the word “ministry” because it has one connotation to more traditional believers and quite another to us who know that the Gospel has to be shared via our personhood – rather than by beating folks over the head, so to speak.
With that said, I think when women with children are called into the marketplace as their divine destiny demands – He will help us find the balance that is needed so nothing or no one is left out when we follow our passion at His leading!
Linda K says
what was it that moved you forward to your true calling? I have been struggling so hard with “what now” and I feel immobilizied somehow. Make any sense?
Hey Linda..I hope Linda responds. I would love to hear her path. I don’t know if this helps, but this is an article I wrote partly about finding my calling..http://www.crossroadcoach.com/s_14.asp. It is called Life by Design. Blessings, Sue
Linda S Fitzgerald says
What moved me was a long serious walk with the Lord. Each new chapter or “season” gave me the stepping stones for the next. But it wasn’t until 5/08/2006 that I got the ‘message’ that would lead to what I am doing now – which is what I believe is my “destiny design”.
“Ask and you shall receive”. But first make Him the first priority in your life and He will add all things thereafter.
If you do not have a very mature and “spiritually free” spiritual director, I highly recommend you find one. I mean a person who is not denominationally bound and has walked ahead of you and has great truths to impart. Once I knew my true “calling”, the Lord told my spiritual director of over 27 years that I didn’t need him any longer (that was a wee bit scary). And don’t assume that he’ll give you a traditional ‘ministry’. . . assume that He won’t.
Hope that’s helpful!
Linda S. Fitzgerald
Thank you so much Linda for responding back!
Holly Rabalais says
How timely! Yesterday, my coworker and I were discussing “balance” in life. We have both decided to use our employer’s flexible work options in order to continue our careers but take care of what’s most important right now–our children. I have recently realized that while I am a smart, professional woman with ladder-climbing ability, I shouldn’t be climbing that ladder just to prove myself to the world. My children will only be children for a short time…they need me now.
Thanks for this article…I think many women are caught up in trying to do it all and are just burning out.
Thanks for such wonderful comments. Ponsella and Linda – thank you both particularly for providing such hope for the future. I think it is very exciting to know that God still has plans for us! Some of us are living out his current plan in our life to care for children or maybe even parents. For others we may be coming to a season to serve God in our work or communities. For me, when I put on my eternal Godview, it reminds me that there is no end, the seasons are not running out for us in God’s Kingdom! Blessings to you all.
Onnie Perdue says
Thanks Sue for your words – those verses (while I’ve heard them many times…) were very timely for me today. How freeing to know that I don’t have to cram all of my dreams and ambitions into one season! The Lord is teaching me so much about pacing myself and enjoying the small things in my day. It’s a lesson he has to teach me over and over again – I’m just thankful He doesn’t throw His hands up and say “Enough!” He’s so kind to me. I’m enjoying a wonderful day with my kids at home today and feel so thankful for this season with them. Afterall, what could be a more “successful” legacy than raising children to love God and others!
Linda S Fitzgerald says
You are most welcome!