Balancing Job and Family As Single Mom

Business woman balancing on tightrope

SMORE Class Message from Gail

A job is something you do in exchange for money, usually. Money is something you use to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for yourself and your family. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Many of us make more out of the job than we should. We think it is our identity, our self-worth, and our security blanket.

As stated by Cloud and Townsend in their book, Boundaries,

“Work is a spiritual activity. In our work, we are made in the image of God, who is himself a worker, a manager, a creator, a developer, a steward, and a healer. To be a Christian is to be a co-laborer with God in the community of humanity. By giving to others we find true fulfillment.”

Some of us take our work so seriously that we tend to forget that we are the ‘co-laborer’ and not the savior, fixer, or problem-solver for all. Boundaries in your area of work are important for establishing harmony in your home.

I grew up in a family that was highly productive. The men in my life have all been extremely hard workers. They have provided well for their families. My dad had to quit school in the eighth grade to pick cotton. His father owned cotton gins and every hand was needed. He did well in spite of his limited formal education, but it bothered him greatly and he felt inferior most of his life. He passed how work ethic and productivity down to his children. We all can be a bit obsessive at times.

Work can become such a driving force that the important things in life are neglected. I fell naturally onto this track. I happen to thoroughly enjoy the work I am fortunate enough to do now. That, however, was not always the case. At a time when work became my all-consuming sense of self, I did not realize what was happening to me. In my most productive years I experienced delivering babies, producing Braille, and surviving burnout. Balance and boundaries make work a less stressful and more enriching part of your life. Work ought to be part, not your entire life. “Get a Life,” as they say. When work, whatever the work, is viewed as ‘spiritual activity’ the rewards are limitless.

Finding the work that is right for you demands that, “You must take ownership of how you feel, how you think, and what you want. You must assess your talents and limitations. And then you must begin to step out as God leads you,” according to Cloud and Townsend.

This is a struggle for many and can take many years. Others seem to slip naturally into the job that fits. Either way let God lead you.

At a crucial point in my life I had done everything in my own power to change career tracks. I had sent out fifty resumes, had a filing system for keeping track of them all, made phone calls-all over a three-month period. Nothing happened. No interviews or callbacks. I returned to the old job extremely disappointed. Each night when the children were asleep, just before I crawled into bed completely exhausted, I knelt and prayed, “Lord, this must be where you want me. Please get me through another day.” After about six weeks my life took a major turn. I was recruited to go into a completely different area of work within the system where I was employed. It was a position I didn’t even know existed. Before I accepted I took time away to pray. I went to the beach and spent the night in a cottage owned by a friend and I seriously reviewed what this would mean—a return to college, a lot of extra study, a challenge. I accepted the position and dove in. Not just challenging, it was grueling.

Your work is a blessing only as long as you treat it as a partnership between you and your Lord.

I urge single mothers to review your work life.

  • Is it a ‘fit’ for you?
  • Are you co-laboring with your Creator?
  • Is there a balance between your job and your family life?
  • Do you have healthy boundaries on the job?

Though I had some truly rewarding experiences during that time, I had not learned to be the co-laborer. I carried it on my shoulders like burdens until after several years I became sick. If you tend to be a fixer and take on jobs that are overwhelming, step back, take a breath, and re-evaluate. Too much of your life is spent at work for you to resign yourself to ongoing misery or frustration.

 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relations intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.”  John 15:8 (Msg)

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