Updated: Mar 24
This research article from a few years back always comes to mind when I think about the expectations that American corporate culture has foisted upon us, and it includes this truism: "Women who had trouble with the work hours tended to simply to take formal accommodations, reducing their work hours, but also revealing their inability to be true ideal workers, and they were consequently marginalized within the firm." The article is definitely worth reading, as it describes not only ways in which some workers have managed to get around the "always on" expectations, but also the resistance of many at the top to even consider that there might be a better way.
We live in a time when the culture is slowly beginning to shift, although perhaps not quickly enough to benefit those who are already deep into a career. After decades of people having to quietly deal with stress-induced illnesses and fractured relationships from working all hours of the day just to keep up with expectations, things like flex time and mental health days are finally showing up on CEOs' radar screens. Unfortunately, for women in the workforce who may already be marginalized because of also being the primary caregiver for small children or elderly parents, or just unwilling to sacrifice work/life balance for the sake of making money for other people, pushing back against the devoted worker ideal is likely to be one more source of stress in a life already filled with it.
Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV) This is not a promise we'll get from CEOs and supervisors. This is the kind of rest we can only find in Jesus. Jesus also promises us, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10, ESV) The daily grind is unlikely to feel like the abundant life that Jesus offers.
It's nerve-wracking and worry-producing to start to take stock of what's causing stress, and maybe make decisions that are good for our own health or our families' well being, but which are bad for promotions and pocketbooks. It's easier said than done to rest in Jesus and know he holds all things together, and that his plan is greater than my boss' plan. But when the alternative to the abundant life that Jesus offers barely feels like life at all, can we really afford not to?
Only you can answer that question for yourself. Only you know what that looks like in your life. But this is a way in which we as women can and should support one another, when someone has to make the hard decisions. You are not alone in your stress.
When I searched my usual photo source for "corporate America," it returned a bunch of images of NYC, a conclusion I probably should have reached on my own. By some miracle, I have a few non-Broadway-related NYC pics in my own files, which is how you can tell that at least one time, I went to NYC with someone who insisted that I had to visit a few things other than the inside of a theatre.
One of the perks of seeing Midtown from the top of tall buildings (the Empire State Building, in this case) is that Central Park is clearly visible--an oasis of calm and peace in the midst of all this go, go, go. May the same be true in our lives.