Originally published Saturday, 01 September 2012.
In late June, the cover of The Atlantic featured a woman in a business suit, with a baby popping out of her briefcase.
“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
The article went viral.
The author, Ann Marie Slaughter, is an uber-accomplished Washington insider and Princeton professor. Yet she writes openly about the struggles she faces balancing her demanding career with her family life. (She has two teenage sons, one of whom refused to speak to her this past summer.)
Her take home point: if we want to blend great careers with our families, we’ve still got a long way to go. Many compromises have to be made, and the system still favors men.
By contrast, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and a mom of two young kids (albeit one with her own private jet!), has become a outspoken advocate for women to “keep our feet on the gas pedal.” She urges women not to give up their careers for their families, saying that we need women at the top positions of companies in order to grow more family friendly policies.
I appreciate the balance that both women are looking to find. Families are a wonderful and amazing blessing. Your child only has one mom: that’s you! Careers are also an amazing blessing. What a joy to take the skill God has given you, and use it out in the wider world!
So: who’s right?
Have it all? Don’t have it at all?
First up, I think each of us has to answer the question:
What does “having it all” really mean to me?
I think it depends completely on your perspective.
For both Slaughter and Sandberg, having it all means trying to balance extremely high-powered positions with all the intricacies and demands of family life.
But I feel God calls us neither to “family” or “career.”
He calls us to think about an entirely different path.
As always, the Gospel refuses to fit the pigeon holes, even the best pigeon holes, that the world has to offer us as women!
Instead, here’s what I feel Christ calls us to:
- We are called to utterly re-think the usual definitions of success, power, and having it all.
- Instead: we are given success. And this not of our own hands! We are handed, by grace, a perfect and complete life. Approval from and relationship with the Creator of the universe. Well done, good and faithful servant.
- From this foundation, we are asked to live out a life of love. This is the Biblical definition of “how to have it all.”
The wonderful thing about love is that it only takes us and one other person!
God asks us to start with Him, and if we have families, then next with our spouses, and our children. From there, we are to branch out into the world around us.
He doesn’t give us a pat formula: “Do this, part-time on Mondays and Tuesday, and and do that, every other Friday.”
Instead, He asks us to bask full-time in His love for us. And then find a way to live that out with the people around us. First with our families, then with the wider world beyond.
This is a definition of success that is going to play out uniquely in each of our lives. For many of us, that will involve deciding how to balance between home and work. And yes, itwill involve compromise, since we and the world we live in are imperfect.
Yet if we aim for a life founded on God and poured out in love, I think wecan “have it all.”
Whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between!
Question: What does it mean to you to “have it all?” How do you live that out in your own life?
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Copyright Dr. Ann 2012
(photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/stuart miles)