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A long journey to a happier place

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A good friend of mine achieved another rung on what she thought was her career path last year. Her education, experience and drive made her a perfect fit for the job. But it was all-consuming, and she has a son at home and a husband who both miss her energy.

She walked away recently, and I applauded her for it.

I chased my career in a similar fashion for many years, worked lots of hours and made a salary nice enough to impress people if I happened to let The Number 'slip.'

When it was gone, it was gone, and suddenly my identity was gone as well. What was I to do with an extra 60 or so hours in a week? My cell phone stopped ringing at odd hours, with calls from Really Important People and the hundred-plus emails I fielded each day were reduced to those from random mailing lists and my former next-door neighbor.

Ours was a generation of girls who grew up with mixed messages. My mom never really worked, never pursued a career, even a part-time job. Folks think I'm overstating it when I say that her goals for me didn't extend beyond marrying a man who had a good job and didn't drink or run around with other women.

I was one of the first generations who grew up with a television in the living room. I explain to my children that there were four network channels we could choose from on Saturday morning, and to see them all, I had to not only get up and 'turn the knob', but also go outside and turn the antenna.

TV gave me a set of beautifully progressive messages, though: You can be anything you want to be. Break the glass ceiling. Level the playing field. The workplace should be gender-neutral. I'm Every Woman. Raising my consciousness was a noble goal. I can -- and should -- balance a career and a family. You go, girl!

Yes, I did once proclaim, "Mom! It's the 80s!" Geesh. How could she possibly understand this new world I lived in, all the expectations a 'modern life' held for me?

I tried it. I liked it for a long while. But at the end of the day, it was floss in my hands.

The discovery is not about my faith, and yet it is. I believe that God's design is sovereign. We (males and females, that is) are each hardwired certain ways, to accomplish an intended purpose. There's wisdom in the design.

For most of the nights we were out west, my final thought at night, the only breath of prayer I could manage in the course of a day was this, "This is not the life I want. God, help me. Please."

I never spoke it out loud, not even to my husband.

But the next day, I would get up and do it all again, because that's what a smart, educated woman should be doing.

When it was gone, I realized how much I had missed. My Brooke, my best friend, had grown up and graduated, and I missed it. I mean, I spent a lot of time with her, I was aware of what was going on in her life -- but too often I said (to her, and everyone else in the household). "Honey, I know this is important to you, but I'm *really* busy right now."

It took some time, but my husband and I have returned to more traditional roles this year. I'm working, sure, but it's work I enjoy and I have the honor of being able to speak positive things into the world. Meantime, Tommy's working, providing and being lavished with my love, respect and admiration.

I'm happy. Despite the odd low point that Life Itself brings now and then, I'm happier and more content than I can recall being in many years. It's a good place. It feels right. It suits my soul.

It's enough for today, Lord.



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Tracy Simmons
Spirited Scribe