Is it possible for a woman to have it all? While this may seem like a modern day question it, in fact, dates back to the beginning of time. Let’s take a look at this subject from a Biblical perspective.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this blog, I want everyone to know that I was a working mom. Most women do a great job of juggling career and home, despite being overwhelmed and tired sometimes. At least that was my experience. I also know that while many women work for satisfaction and career growth, there are those who need to work for financial stability.
So please, understand that this article is not about “bad” working mothers. God is not against ambitious women. I know this because there are examples of high achieving women in the Bible, despite the culture in which they lived.
One example is Deborah, who was a judge and leader of Israel. Read her story in Judges Chapters 4 and 5. She was an amazing woman, who led Israel at a difficult time.
In Acts 16: 11-40, we read about a woman named Lydia. She was a wealthy businesswoman, who also led her household. She was the first Christian convert in Philippi.
There are other examples of strong, successful women in the Bible, including Ruth, Esther, Mary Magdalene, and Priscilla to name just a few. Although this blog can’t delve into details about all these women; suffice it to say that Solomon was right when he said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun. This includes women with careers!
However, despite the percentage of working women and the feminist movement’s successes; the male population still retains the balance of power. Men earn more money, hold the majority of CEO positions, and dominate the U.S. government. After years of working toward equality, why is this so?
The answer to this question, like every question, can be found in the Bible. Look back at the beginning of time. Paradise was Eve’s home; she even talked with God! Still, she asked the question numerous women ask today. Can I have it all? So what did she want that wasn’t already available to her in Paradise? God told them not to eat the fruit from one tree in the garden.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eye, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and ate (Genesis 3:6a NKJV). So begins the quest to have it all, and notice it starts with a woman. After eating the fruit, she proceeds to lead Adam into sin and hides from God. This is not the behavior of a woman who just improved her life.
Like Eve, when women attain the power and position they desire, some find that “having it all” is not all it’s cracked up to be. CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, revealed during an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2014, that she didn’t believe you can “have it all.” She discussed candidly the conflicts of trying to balance being a CEO, wife, mother, and caring for an elderly parent. Co-opting help and meticulously planning their lives is how her family manages. However, she also felt the need to develop coping mechanisms to relieve the guilt she feels. At the end of the day, she doesn’t believe she can do justice to all her roles. How many of us can relate?
As we continue to examine Eve’s story, we read God’s response to her disobedience. In pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband……(Genesis 3:16b). Not only does she bear the children, but her desire is for her husband.So is it societal bias and inequality that keeps women from finding themselves at the top of the corporate ladder? Or is it something more innate?
For over twenty years, I worked in the human resource field; and it was my personal experience that women desire flexibility over all other benefits a job may offer. Some examples of prominent women who desired flexibility to achieve a work and life balance are Mary Matalin and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Matalin stepped down from her position in the Bush/Cheney administration to spend more time with her daughters. She wanted to serve as a homeroom mother for her then seven-year-old and encourage her four-year-old daughter who wanted to be a ballerina.
Slaughter, a successful woman, and feminist, acknowledges the dilemma of desiring a career in the fast lane while wanting to be more available to her sons. She left a position with Hillary Clinton at the State Department for a career in academia, which allowed for a more flexible schedule. (Subsequently, Slaughter left her job as a professor and runs New America, which is a non-profit think tank. This position provides more diversity in her work, but still allows for family time.)
Women’s choices affect their professional direction. Women take more breaks in their career: to have children, stay at home with toddlers, or work part-time.
Women are a diverse creation; made in God’s image with different gifts and abilities. I am amazed at the inherent power God gave women. Some may attain a CEO position of a Fortune 500 company, and maybe has it all! That is great and may be God’s plan for her. However, I believe the reason we have not attained the feminists’ goals in the United States is that women and men have different priorities.
Please understand I admire women who achieve in the corporate world. They can be great role models for young girls. They can also be marvelous mothers. However, I also believe that women who choose other paths for their lives, jobs with more flexibility or to stay out of the corporate world altogether can also be role models for our young women.We all need to pray for career and home decisions and know there are difficult choices and sacrifices no matter what path we take.
If, like Eve, we find ourselves asking the “can I have it all” question, learn from Eve’s experience, sometimes having it all is not in our best interest.
To delve into this subject further, check out the “Word of the Week” devotion. The word is “success” and we examine four successful women in the Bible, who took different paths. There is a businesswoman, a nonprofit manager, a woman in government, and a stay at home mom. God didn’t make “cookie cutter” women. I love the diversity and different ways he uses us for His glory. To learn about these remarkable women click on this link: http://wsc.madestronger.com/wow-success/
Also, don’t forget “Through the Bible” this week. It covers the Book of 1 Samuel. The child’s devotion focuses on David and Goliath and the toddlers learn how to make “sad become glad” through prayer. Check it out at: http://wsc.madestronger.com/11-childs-devotional-1-samuel/
Please comment below if you have anything to add regarding women “having it all.” If you are blessed by this blog, please tell others to subscribe to receive my weekly emails.
Don’t forget to start your “Thankful” project in December. If you don’t know what I am talking about, see my blog posted 11.21.17 – FIVE WAYS TO A THANKFUL HEART
See you next week!