Make It Work

I sat on the bathroom floor and cried. Why am I the only woman on earth who can’t get it together, I thought to myself in between frustrated sobs. In between packing lunches for my stepkids, preparing for a work presentation, finishing my morning workout, and trying to live up to my inner conviction of what a pastor’s wife should be, I just stopped. Life was beautiful and I was leading at home, work, and in ministry, but I was fighting against the voices in my head whispering I should be perfect and life should be perfect.

On that day, life was anything but perfect. Our sisters of the 60s and 70s who burned their bras and let their underarm hair grow free chanted that we are independent and free and can do anything we wanted to. They were inspired by SuperWoman and Rosey the Riveter and Mother Theresa. And somewhere between raising a family, leading at work, and feathering out their hair, women had to find perfect balance in it all.

Our sisters of the 80s and 90s shattered glass ceilings and discovered bras were a good thing and underarms were best shaved. They created power lunches, power naps, and PowerPoint presentations. And somewhere between power walks and managing the nuclear family, these women shouted to the next generation that women can have it all.

But today I am wondering what all is? My fear is that all is a nebulous idea of liberated perfection. As I step into deeper levels of leadership, I want to let women in my generation and the next know that all is sacrificial. If you want it all, you have to give it your all.

If we make a commitment to take on new tasks, new roles, or new lifestyles, we need to be willing to stay the course. In my moment of pity on my bathroom floor, I had to talk myself off the ledge. Quitting is not an option. Defeat is not my destiny. Losing my mind is not on my to-do list. In the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, “Make it work!” As leaders we have a responsibility to ourselves and those we lead to persevere. Most women today have multiple roles. 

I work for one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations on the globe, but that’s not all that I do. As a wife, stepmom, ministry leader, writer, and visionary, I’m constantly fighting the tension of balance. But what if balance is a myth? What if balance isn’t as much needed as tenacity? What if we stopped feeling like we have to abdicate one responsibility for the other? Instead, make it work.

Whether you are married or single, young or old, entrepreneur or student, there are moments that will overwhelm us and make us question our life choices. Life won’t always be perfect and polished and pretty. But pick your head up, refocus your heart, and remember that you are stronger than you think. Failure is not an option if failure is not a choice.

Yes, there must always be times to reevaluate or pause in respite of a decision. But if we reconcile in our hearts that we are stronger than we think and called to the God-potential in us, we cannot fail. No matter what is thrown at us, don’t give up. Just make it work. And guess what? It always does.

Bianca Juarez Olthoff

Bianca is a writer and teacher in love with two men: Jesus and her husband Matt. She spends her week working as Chief Storyteller The A21 Campaign, and Creative Director for Propel, but loves having dance parties in the living room with her two step-children or cooking for friends.

Passionate about God's word, she teaches around the globe and blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus. Whether discussing topics about justice or pop culture, Bianca has spent over 15 years dedicated to mobilizing God's people to action inside and outside of the Church.

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