When You Don't Fit the Traditional Mold

AndreaTriceforWebFormer professor, mother of two, consultant and church elder, Andrea Trice has worn several hats in her lifetime. She also co-authored a book on work-life balance, which is what we chose to interview her about today.

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4word: Looking back over your career, was there a time when you feel you didn't balance work and life well? Or is there a part of this that you're really struggling with now?

Andrea: When my children were both very young and my husband was also on the tenure track at Purdue University, life was crazy. I was overwhelmed trying to do all things well and stretched far too thin. We had struggled through four years of infertility for reasons that never could be determined. Now that God had blessed us with children, I did not want to live a life that was defined primarily by stress. Thankfully, I had the freedom to redefine my career at that point to establish a better balance.

Today, as a consultant, I control my time far more. However, there is always a tension between work and my personal life. As a member of a family, my life is never just my own. We each have needs and wants that must be continually negotiated.

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4word: Is this issue of work/life balance something you have difficulty trusting God with?

Andrea: Trusting God with this facet of my life has been a long process. I grew up in a church where women were permitted to serve in the nursery and make meals for others. They didn’t fill any leadership roles. I’m sure there were a few professional women in our large congregation, but I didn’t know them. As a child, I heard the message that God calls women only to work inside their homes and to help others.

Even at age 12, I remember struggling with a tension between the roles I saw women fill and how I was wired. I realized that I didn’t fit the traditional mold for women, but I didn’t know how to talk with God about it. This tension became a place of quiet sorrow for me.

4word: So what changed?

Andrea: Over the past decade, two significant things have helped change this. First, I have become a pretty serious student of God’s Word. My bedtime reading is often a commentary on a book of the Bible.. As I learn about the cultural context and literary structures used in the New Testament, I’ve come to a more freeing and I believe more accurate understanding of God’s plan for women in His Church.

Second, I have learned more about trusting God with hurts and confusion in my life. I don’t have to come to God with specific petitions about these things, just share them with Him with open hands. I have found God loves to meet me in these times of honest asking and humble listening.

As part of this process of sharing my confusion and pain with God, I spent time studying the Hebrew words used in Psalm 139 a couple of years ago. I realized in a fresh way that God had intentionally formed me the way He wanted. How I was wired was not hidden from Him. It was because of Him. I don’t need to try to hide part of myself from Him (my intellect, my leadership skills, my love of work, or my passion for the local church) or keep it locked away in shame. I could talk with Him about my passions and invite Him into my journey of discerning what He has called me to do as a Christian leader, woman, and mother.

4word: How has welcoming God into the process of balancing your family and your work obligations brought you peace?

Andrea: I don’t have all of the answers yet. What I can say is that God and I talk about these tensions regularly. There is a peace, a dependence, and even a deeper love that I now have for God because I have opened this area to Him. How He wired me is not a shameful secret that I must hide from Him. Instead, by resting in His perfect intentionality, I am slowly experiencing God’s healing and freedom.

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Have you allowed God into the process of balancing your work and personal lives? If yes, how has this helped? If not... what’s stopping you?