Balancing act: Finding a successful work-life balance

A Christian Science perspective: One working mother shares her answered prayers on juggling a career and family.

A recent Christian Science Monitor editorial addressing a new generation of women in the workplace cites that “chief among [women’s concerns] was how to maintain a successful work-life balance” (“Outlook brightens for a new generation of women at work,” CSMonitor.com). This lines up with recent figures from the Pew Research Center, which claims that in nearly half of two-parent households in the United States both mom and dad work full time.

Many dual-income households struggle to find a solution for a proper work-life balance and quality care for children. In our family’s case, I went back to work over a decade ago when our youngest was just 2 years old. Soon the economics of commuting into the city from our suburban home as well as paying for child care for our three children became a clear-eyed reality for my husband and me. As much as I loved my job, I also missed being home for the family.

I realized I wouldn’t be as happy or effective at work if I couldn’t also be a hands-on parent, so I prayed about this dilemma to see if my desire was in the right place. My understanding of prayer begins with what I’ve learned in Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy writes in her textbook on Christian Science that “desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 1). It came to me that I didn’t have to perceive this as a conflict of interests between a fulfilling career and family life. Accepting good and bad as a package deal seemed all wrong.

Christian Science teaches that God, divine Spirit, is the source of good, and therefore of solutions – which can be expressed in rightful employment and sufficient supply. Mrs. Eddy explains, “In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes, – Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply” (Science and Health, p. 206). I began to see that what is progressive and right for one member of a family unit blesses every member and can’t harm or hold back another. Rather than seeing my employment or my skills as the source of our supply, I knew I could look to Spirit as the abundant and eternal source of our true income – of the spiritual ideas that would practically meet our needs. God wouldn’t have led me to this career opportunity without also providing the means and the creativity to accomplish it in a way that would bless everyone, including my entire family.

I spent some months patiently proving my accountability on the job and then decided to request a flexible schedule. My manager approved my proposal, and in the ensuing years my career continued to advance without discrimination toward my “mother’s hours.” This was also a time when working from home became less cumbersome with the advent of smartphones and ubiquitous wireless networks.

For women who are either launching their career, deep into it, or are both caring for their children and companies, we can each value the discipline, tender care, and selflessness that are needed to nurture successful outcomes in both families and the economy. God truly does take care of each one of His children and “gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.