I never thought that having a career would be harder than that Wednesday morning. I’d been called by my son’s daycare for the seventh time in a month over a dangerously high fever. Something was wrong.
After a number of doctor’s visits, sleepless nights, and praying pacing through my son’s room, we discovered that consistent inner ear infections were the culprit. It was serious but treatable. Thankfully, God’s grace covered my baby boy and he was able to continue living a normal, healthy life after a few medical procedures.
But I couldn’t shake something else, something far deeper than ear infections. Was I doing the right thing by working out of my home, away from my kids?
Perhaps if I stayed home with them like other Christian women I know, we wouldn’t be susceptible to fevers and ear infections. Had I chosen my own desires at the expense of my family? I wrestled with this question until I rested...Until God spoke otherwise, my God-given assignment was in the marketplace. My call to work outside the home wasn’t about money or fulfilling selfishness ambition, it was where I was supposed to be. It was my God-given assignment. Still, I found myself struggling with my ideas of being a great Christian mom as well as influential outside the home. Feeling like my role was in the workplace didn’t reduce the dishes that mounted faithfully in my sink.
How would I meet both the needs of my family and my goals outside the home?
What was I to do in the face of two worlds so completely different? Was it possible to straddle these two worlds successfully? As believers we are often faced with “straddling” multiple responsibilities.
Mother. Wife. Volunteer. Church-goer. Leader. Encourager. Cook. Friend. Business owner.
Have you ever felt stretched so thin you feel worse than a gymnast’s workout?
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus called a few men to follow Him. They were fishermen and doctors and average folks like you and me. Would they join in what He wanted for them or would they fulfill their own plans? God asked them to leave everything they’d ever known. I can relate to their eager “yes Lord,” only to wonder what the particulars would be in the days to come. They had families and careers and ambitions. Would they completely walk away from their former lives or somehow incorporate this new Jesus thing?
Aren’t we faced with the same questions?
Will we serve on the PTA or accept a second job to make extra money? Does that mean we completely abandon our existing responsibilities? How will life change?
Like the first disciples, we must know that our faith is not cultivated by our comfort. What comes easy does not automatically equate to God’s will. So then, how do we deal with the questions that swirl as we embrace new God-given assignments? How do we manage many things well? What’s a girl to do!?
Here are a few things we can do to assess our assignments and navigate the straddle of life:
1. List the Needs of All Possible Assignments. Let’s not be disillusioned, juggling many things is hard. Science now suggests that we humans tend to view multitasking all wrong. We assume that it’s effective to do more than one thing at a time while research shows the more we do, the less we do well. The key is not doing many things, but managing the requirements of the areas to which we feel called. It is important to count the cost--consider carefully and fully the demands multiple roles and responsibilities will place on us.
2. Make it Plain. The excitement of new opportunities quickly fades away when difficulties arise. I bet Jesus’ disciples thought that a new life on the road would be awesome until they went home to explain the details to momma. No jobs, no pay, no security, and no assurances. When difficulties arise (and they will) we have nothing more than God’s plan to fall on. That is why it is critical to clearly remember what we are supposed to be doing. Keep a journal or blog; write a quick note to yourself to remind you of why you’ve decided to do “this.” What’s moved you to this decision? What goals do you have? How are you assured this is what you are supposed to be doing at the moment? You’ll lean on these reminders when times are challenging.
3. Don’t Compare. The beauty of straddling many things is that God gives us each our own assignments. So often we make comparisons as to how others seem to “do it all” while we struggle. But comparison is a fallacy and a huge enemy to believers. I love what Pastor Steve Furtick said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Are you struggling with straddling multiple assignments? How do you manage?