Work, Family & World-Change: An Ambassador’s Journey
Many women struggle to find their identities as they balance work, family, and social lives. With more choices than ever before, women sometimes feel conflicted about choosing one opportunity over another. Ambassador Kara Menning recently turned 40, and found herself reflecting on the ways this struggle has defined her in the past. Today she shares about finding her identity as a mother, a professional, and a Noonday Ambassador.
My kids: Isaiah, Joey, Ellie, Cyndi, Luther and Asher
I never would have seen this age-forty-life coming. Asked at age twenty how many children I would have or what my career would be, I don’t think I would have really known what to say. But I certainly would not have imagined mothering six children, three of whom we adopted, along with pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner and selling jewelry as a Noonday Ambassador.
It has been a journey, no question. For a thousand reasons, women like me struggle with whether it’s “ok” to love both their children and their jobs, and wonder if being passionate about both something to be wrestled with or ashamed of. And it comes from both sides. I sometimes sense judgment from my stay at home mom friends when I’m headed out of town for work, but can feel the same from my work colleagues when I tell them I have six children and am in clinic only a couple of days per week. At the end of the day, there is no doubt that I am more fortunate than most in this world to have the luxury of even making these choices.
Some days, my life at 40 looks like this.
Most of my last thirteen years of motherhood I have asked God if this is all ok – if I can still honor him as both a mother and a worker. Not only wondering if God tolerates this big, messy, beautiful life, but if I can excel at both things I love: nurturing my family and pursuing my career. I’m tired of constantly wondering if one suffers because of the other. At the end of the day, I don’t want to feel as though this one life I have is ‘ok’ with God. I want to know that I’m actually doing the work he wants me to do and that it brings him great joy.
And some days my life at 40 looks more like this.
This life feels like exactly who God made me to be. When I look at the way he has wired me, the experiences I’ve had in life, and what makes me feel alive and whole – it has led to this life right here.
This life where I fold laundry every. single. day. and there are always dirty dishes in the sink.
This life where I walk people through living with Multiple Sclerosis.
This life where I’m married to another imperfect human like me.
This life where I’m learning about raising a mixed race family including six kids (God help them).
This life that includes wrinkles and acne all at the same time.
This life where I have the privilege of telling the stories of women and men around the world while showing their handmade, wearable art; being a catalyst for change by selling jewelry.
And most importantly, this life that turns me to Jesus like never before because of my inability to “handle” things on my own.
Age forty, you are teaching me this: It’s more than ok to like my life and acknowledge that there is purpose in every area and every task. My life is not something to be tolerated, but celebrated! I am learning, again, that the whole world belongs to God, including my family, my career, and my kitchen sink. Every phone call to a patient, every search for missing soccer cleats, every late night talk with my husband, every Trunk Show – it can all be to the glory of God.
Romans 12 :1-2 (MSG)
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”