I've been at war with myself for some months. Maybe for some year.
It's a war of two very clear callings I feel placed on my life. A calling to be a community builder, to fight for social justice and against injustice and to do so in order to share the Good News. And a calling to be a mother and a wife. A mother and wife through a strange and twisty road I never expected, but its strange twistyness makes it clear and certain.
This is the raging battle I think every woman faces at sometime or another - the choice between being about work or family.
But what if it isn't supposed to be a choice?
A friend texted the other day wanting to know where Caroline spends her summer and how we manage. This friend is joyfully expecting - expecting her big girl daughter who they have been waiting for and longing for. They're at the place in the adoption process where all the waiting and all the longing is finally coming to a close (or it seems like it might be about to). It's the moment where the excitement and the anticipation and the worry and the fear are about to brim over and we women start to wonder how we will ever do this thing call motherhood.
Although I haven't experienced pregnancy myself, I believe it is different for women adopting than women birthing. When you conceive, their is certainty. Barring complications, this baby will come. Nine months and baby. But when you make the choice to adopt, there is no certainty. There is no timeframe, and the timeframes you are given are wibbly-wobbly. In international adoption, after what has likely been a year or more of waiting, the moment of certainty comes a few weeks before you will travel to meet your child. When it comes, you finally allow yourself to feel this explosion of emotions, wonderful and terrifying emotions.
This is the moment my friend is in (or maybe close to being in; it's so hard to know). So she's wondering, how do I do this mommy thing with her almost two-year-old and her coming nine-year-old while being good at her job and retaining the income their family needs.
It feels like a choice. What will I be good at. But what if it isn't supposed to be?
This year, I'm seeking to find more balance in my life. Part of this means being a better manager of my time, but a lot of it, I think, is deciding where to give my yeses and where to give my noes. For instance, practicing saying "yes" to playing dolls over cleaning the bathroom. Saying "no" to joining that particular committee because my time needs to be committed to my family, to my friends, or to my job. Saying "yes" to chatting with my husband about nothing in particular over our latest TV addiction and what happens next. Saying "no" to "my workout is my me time" over Caroline and I falling over each other as Jillian Michaels screams at us through the TV. Saying "yes" to the things which add to my life as disciple, mother, wife and employee, and "no" to the things that take away from it.
I'm coming to believe it isn't about making a choice between two callings but making choices which lead to balance. It's about Mary choosing what is better. It's about her ability to maintain balance over busyness. It's about choosing in the moment what will add to the person you want to become but also planning ahead for the moment, knowing it is coming and making the choices ahead of time which will help you be the better person you want to be.
I'm choosing to make the choice not to feel bad about choosing one calling over another anymore. I'm making the choice not to choose between them at all but to make the choices which add to the person I want to be and which add to my callings.
I don't think every one is called to a vocation just like I don't think every woman is called to be a mother or a wife. We all have different callings.
But I do think those of us who feel this seemingly innate sense of guilt about choosing work versus family should stop feeling guilty and start getting on with our lives.
One of the greatest breakthroughs of my life was when I realized I didn't have to wait to be truly used by God until I was in a marriage relationship - that God could and wanted to use me in my singleness, that there was not some coming moment of me being more complete and ready to be used by God in some fuller way. I learned to be very content in my singleness following this breakthrough, and more than that I learned to be very content in myself.
I feel as though I'm coming into another one of those breakthrough moments - a realization that these callings which always seem to be at war actually compliment one another. A realization that God who is in perfect balance would never purposely call me to be out of balance, and so they can work together. I can live out my vocational calling and my family calling. One does not have to be sacrificed for the other, but they do need to come into balance.
These lessons have already been very difficult. A few days ago, I thought I was balancing things so well that I began to grow prideful and forgot it was God in me who was doing the hard work. Several apologies were due after that one. Yesterday I got so bogged down in trying to be supermom and super-everything-else that I harbored resentment towards my husband and my sister for the balancing actions they took. Some more apologies. I've also discovered that when I start looking ahead to the busyness instead of living in the day I'm in, balance seems impossible and I start living through anxiety.
Finding balance is not going to be easy, but I believe it to be worth it. I believe the more I can say "no" to things which do not help me become the person I want to be, and the more I can say "yes" to the things which do, the better I will be at this thing called life and at fulfilling the callings placed on this thing called life - all with the magnificent help of the Lord, His goodness and His mercy.