We have an exciting announcement for you today! On Tuesday of next week, we will launch the first Work, Love, Pray online book club. We’ll be hosting the club every Tuesday on our blog, and the discussion will be led by Susan DiMickele. (For those of you just joining us, Diane reviewed Susan’s book, Chasing Superwoman, a few weeks ago.) For this week’s interview, we thought we’d let you get to know Susan a bit more.
4word: In Chasing Superwoman, you say “most of us are running ourselves ragged, pretending to be Superwoman, and feeling guilty when we achieve anything less than superhero perfection.” Why do you think we working mothers do that to ourselves?
Susan: It’s partly human nature and partly our society. Human nature tries to be good, and society tells us we should be able to hold it all together on our own. When you put those two together, if you don’t have grace, it can be a recipe for disaster, because we so often fail.
4word: Do you think this is a new struggle for women, now that so many of us work full-time?
Susan: I think it’s something women have struggled with throughout history, but with the opportunities that women now have in the marketplace, it has become more of an issue. Greater opportunity also means greater responsibility. That’s a good thing, but it can be really challenging when we feel like we have to do it all alone and be perfect.
4word: One of your metaphors that I really liked was the “Lady Lawyer” and “Devoted Mommy” capes and how you have to switch them out during your day. Do you have a cape for your faith too?
Susan: I don’t have a Devoted Christian cape. Or at least I try not to think of myself as switching my Devoted Christian cape on and off because that’s a cape that I always want to wear. I don’t want it to be a cape. I want it to be my heart.
I talked to my sister about this recently. She deals with many kinds of people at work, and some are very hostile to her faith. She told me, “I don’t want to be two people and act one way with kids at home and then another at work.” I don’t want that either. I want to wear Christ all the time, but I also think there’s a time and place at work.
One thing I liked in Work, Love, Pray was the “one cross rule.” I think sometimes as Christians we shoot ourselves in the foot and overdo the outward appearance of our faith instead of focusing on the inward issues of integrity, excellence and having workplace values that others would want to emulate.
4word: Very true. Can you give us an example of that?
Susan: I remember meeting a friend for lunch one time when there were a lot of other lawyers I knew at the same restaurant. She bowed to pray before our lunch – which I love to do if I’m with a friend who shares my faith – but she was just so…. loud and obvious with what she was doing, like she wanted others to see and hear us.
I remember getting comments from a couple of co-workers after lunch that they had felt uncomfortable. While I certainly don’t want to quench the Spirit, I think there’s a time and place for everything. I think we do need to be smart about where and when we express our faith. It doesn’t mean we don’t love God, but we really need to pick our battles. We shoot ourselves in the foot by drawing these cultural lines that aren’t even helpful.
4word: We are so excited that you have volunteered to host an online book club for us! For our readers who might be thinking about joining, can you tell us why you wanted to host the book club?
Susan: I really think that Work, Love, Pray is the first book of its kind. I feel like there’s a void in the Christian community. We’re a little bit behind. Women in the workplace are a growing majority, and they are really dying for spiritual insight.
As someone who grew up in a traditional home, when I began my career, I was scratching my head, wondering, “is it wrong that I’m pursuing this career? How should I go about doing it?” To have someone like Diane who can say, “I’ve been through it, I made mistakes and here are some things I want you to know,” is huge. I really feel that 4word is meeting a core need of many women who feel a bit alone or forgotten by the church.
4word: That’s great! And what do you hope to accomplish over the next several weeks?
Susan: Just to start that discussion. At minimum I would hope that we could start a discussion about issues like: how do relationships fit into a career? How does marriage fit into being a working woman? What do you do when your boss hits on you? I would just love to start a broader dialogue and bring women together. I hope we have women who feel free enough to participate and join the discussion, but I think it’s also great for other women who just want to listen.
If you’d like to continue the discussion with Susan, then come back next Tuesday for the book club! In the meantime, you can read more from Susan at her blog: susandimickele.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @SusanDiMickele.