Having it All v. Having Enough

by Sarah on July 30, 2012 · 1 comment

Over at The Atlantic, the battle still rages over the question “can women have it all?” It started with the article of that same name that came out in The Atlantic last month, and has sparked discussion, outrage, response and everything in between. No wonder it’s been the most read article in the publication’s history! It’s even prompted The Atlantic to dedicate an entire section on their website to “the myth of the work-life balance.

Today brings another article from The Atlantic in the same vein. However, I find the answer presented by Marie Myung-Ok Lee in this article to be much more real and applicable to the NeW reader than the original article that started it all.

The author is the mother of a severely handicapped son. As such, she and her husband have had to make sacrifices in their lives to provide for him. This includes financial sacrifices, social sacrifices and mental sacrifices as well. Yet when questioned and confronted about her situation, the author maintains that she is happy and content, and not consumed by worry like most people. She writes:

When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, “Can we have it all?” — with “all” being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, “Do we have enough?”

For her, the question never should be “do we have it all?” Such a question will inevitably be answered with no, and lead to a struggle to find a perfection that can’t exist. Instead, if the question is “do we have enough?”, the answer is almost always yes. It doesn’t mean that we do not work to succeed in our career and family, but that we learn to appreciate and cultivate the things we do have. Having enough is a lot more fulfilling than having it all.

The article ends with:

Do I have enough? Resoundingly: yes. And I ask you to take a moment: I suspect you might, too.

I agree.

Have you been following this conversation over the summer? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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Ruth Reynolds July 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I think it’s a wonderful thing to think about “do I have enough” instead of “can I have it all.” But I think this also gives insight into feminism viewing women in a race to “catch” up to men that have it all. The grass is just always greener on the other side.

I don’t think men think they “have it all,” and are driven by this same sense of trying to make more and do more to “arrive.” Yet Paul gives so much insight in Philippians 4 when he talks about the secret of contentment and says:

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” 4:8-9.

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