Of the work-life balance myth

Pacifica | California

Despite the on-going uncertainty in our world, I turned down a job offer. I did not turn it down thinking motherhood > career or vocation, not at all, but because the system (at least at the organization I was offered the job at) did not and could not offer me the wholesome living I had come to know of.

The job had great ‘work-life balance’ benefits, and would frankly be more attractive if I was single or when I’ve had lesser experience so to speak. For where we are in life right now, ‘work-life balance’ no longer cut it and at some point, it becomes kind of a myth for many working moms.

I always love what I get to do, but I believe even more in doing out of Rest. And why we do what we do is only as important as the how we do it. I remember reading this 2019 article on Wholeness by Joanna Gaines, who puts it so well about how the conventional system of work-life balance means moms actually have to hustle to get even a semblance of it:

“The hidden truth about balance is it requires that everything in our lives be equally distributed at all times… But that’s just not the way my life unfolds every day. Ultimately, I decided that balance is way too meticulous a science to get just right in my daily life, and that it wasn’t something I was very interested in for myself. In its place, I sought wholeness for my family and for my work. Because both of these pieces are integral to who I am, both meaningful and sacred in their own right, I decided to stop working so hard to separate the two.

And the myth of the hustle is really a cousin to the myth of work-life balance.

Seek Wholeness

I do think there is something about birthing new life that stirs in my soul to dream big again (even as society has a pigeonhole-effect on motherhood). That who I am is first a child of God – and that design, true to the bigness of our God, is complex and rightly dynamic.

And all the roles we get to steward and play in life are sacred in their own right (thank you, Joanna Gaines).

But work-life balance typically means rest is an equal balanced part of the whole which limits the number of ‘parts’ you can have or play in life before it all comes crashing down. It’s non-sustainable especially as life progresses. Of course, we are not all obligated to have endless parts to play. But, what if you do?

With a life built upon the bedrock of Rest, I can quite possibly do it all (with the help from The (ultimate) Helper). It’s no longer a multiple choice or a competition. I’ve once heard it said wisely: “We can do it all just not all at once!” And the truth in that is to recognize how everything you are intersects.

Everyday can be very different and that’s okay. One day at a time.

Maybe it’s just me, I always felt I am only as good a filmmaker or creative professional as the richness of life I’ve lived and am living. As good a mom as the fullness of my marriage or life. As good a wife or partner as fulfilled or secure as I am in my individual God-breathed aspirations or dreams.

The best of me in anything hinges on another thing or role for that matter.

It’s a weird one. In many parts of our modern world, families can rarely get by with a single-income source vs. dual-income where both partners bring home income. To stay home is a privilege, but. That is also often complicated in the US where childcare cost is astronomical and women’s salary don’t cut it.

Gender pay gap is one thing, but this mostly is also nullifying the option of men who’d want to take on more of the primary caregiver role in parenting, unless a woman is in executive-level position or in careers where they can afford to take turns so to speak (I often muse about these in this IG stories series).

Many girls have responded to this post I wrote last year saying they so resonate. And I feel that a pursuit of wholeness and wholesome living is similar, in discerning all that was warned in Romans 12:1-2 — and in this case, conventional societal family structure or gender or parenting roles.

As I wrote in that post in 2019:

But maybe we can do more as a church or faith community in resisting stigma — and always be asking, how are we living counter-culturally from society and better empower women across seasons?

The good news is the pandemic had disrupted the conventional parenting ‘village’ in every possible way. And with an unconventional year, it ought to force us to tap into the unconventional, divine strategies (and interventions) for this season.

By summer, we made a strategic move to San Francisco trusting He will author it all. San Francisco is where we had gotten married back in 2015, and had felt most called to, but never thought we’d be able to afford it here. And so what we learned upon arriving back in San Francisco was like a sweet surprise to the soul.

Due to WFH, tech workers have ‘fled’ the city. The condo rental market crashed to an all-time low – we were given 2.5 months free rent in a sleek 2-bedroom in the heart of FiDi, and a surprise free peloton bike that has been on the husband’s wish list for a while i.e. he’s literally rewarded for his faith, hah.

And so as I navigate and craft this brand new chapter of my life believing with all my heart that wholesome living is possible – #momlife, seminary and grad school, the career of a call, serving and ministry, etc – it has been a release being tangibly reminded of how He supply all our needs as we live right in His perfect will.

I do wake up everyday in such awe knowing without a shadow of doubt I am right where we are meant to be. And that, may just be the most powerful feeling ever in the world to wake up to and the best place to start a new year.

#LiveWholesomely: Hello 2021

Part I: Live Wholesomely, Live out of Rest

Part II: The work-life balance myth