My friend Jeanne, who is also my stepmother, writes a blog for Forbes.com. Her most recent post, which you can find here (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/), includes this reflection on what used to be called our life/work balance:
“These days, work is life, and life is work; our jobs are seamlessly blended into all aspects of our personal lives…. Many…Millennials … already believe the work-life balance concept was long dead…. Rather than balance, we must juggle our work, personal lives, and community involvement.”
Now, no offense to Jeanne, but for most of us, this juggling is by no means “seamless.” People come into my office all the time and wail about how difficult it is, how hard it is to sustain a good relationship with one’s spouse or partner, to be a good parent, to meet goals at work, and to have anything left at the end of the day with which to have a life.
Nor should that be surprising news to people of faith. The Exodus is one of our founding stories, and it is the story of how God saved us from slavery, from lives of endless drudgery, in which our only measure of value was the number of bricks we made, of widgets we produced, of product that we sold, of money that we made (for someone else). Against all that, God gives us the story of Creation, which ends with the creation of Sabbath, which teaches us that creation is good, not for what it achieves, but just for being.
On the same day that Jeanne’s blog was posted, I presided at a funeral for a beloved parishioner, a woman who had a long life and lived it well, rich in accomplishments and in friendship. Summing her up, one person wrote, “She was also of a world and a generation where women were not so defined by what they did but by who they are. Simply being [herself] was enough.”
So how do you do it, my friends? How do you carve out a space to be a human being, amid all the demands in your lives? How do you deal with all the competing pressures in your life? What do you do to remind yourself that you are of value, even if your achievements amount to so much dust? How do remind yourself of your intrinsic value, especially when you have achieved much?
Please answer. I’d love to hear.