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?