The Myth of the Problem-free Life

We learned an important lesson in our decade-long friendships.  We learned that we had been fooled.  We had convinced ourselves that if we could manage our schedules, break through the glass ceiling, spend quality time with our families, bring home the bacon (and fry it up in a pan) while bouncing children on our hips and creating warm and loving relationships with our husbands, in-laws, and colleagues, somehow, some way, we would be rewarded with the problem-free lives that had, up until then, eluded us.  We were wrong….

We learned that the problem-free life we sought was more than an illusion.  It had become a myth to which too many women had fallen victim.  A woman’s life is much more than success, having it all, or the elusive balance we all seek.  It is more than seeking perfection or conquering the world (although you might).  It is more than gritting your teeth and making it through.  It is about surviving and thriving.

For us, surviving and thriving meant reinventing, rebuilding, and realizing that success was never final and failure was never fatal.  It meant putting our best foot forward (Nike for some, Nine West for others) no matter what, and walking.  Walking forward looking like a pillar of success on the outside while that tiny voice inside reminded us that our teenagers were out of control, our job could end tomorrow, and our spouses, colleagues, and bosses had been untruthful, selfish, unfaithful, or just plain stupid.

Surviving and thriving meant taking what life offered up and looking for the opportunities, the joy, and the compassion in less-than-pleasant or less-than-perfect circumstances.

–Deborah Collins Stephens, Jackie Speier, Michealene Cristini Risley, and Jan Yanehiro, This Is Not the Life I Ordered, p. 18-19

Some Perspective

Jesus’ life didn’t go well.  He didn’t reach his earning potential.  He didn’t have the respect of his colleagues.  His friends weren’t loyal.  His life wasn’t long.  He didn’t meet his soul mate.  And he wasn’t understood by his mother.  Yet I think I deserve all those things because I’m so spiritual.

— Hugh Prather, Spiritual Notes to Myself, p. 3

When You Fail

When you fail (which you will), that doesn’t mean that you are a failure.  It simply means that you don’t do everything right.  We all have to accept the fact that along with strengths we also have weaknesses.  Just let Christ be strong in your weaknesses; let Him be your strength on your weak days.

— Joyce Meier, Battlefield of the Mind, p. 36


The process of reinvention, we’ve learned, is best managed with humor, friendship, optimism, and a long-lasting high-beam flashlight to see the light at the end of every tunnel.

— Deborah Collins Stephens, Jackie Speier, Michealene Cristini Risley, and Jan Yanehiro, This Is Not the Life I Ordered, p. 16

Obedience in the Face of Reason

The one major thing God told me from the very beginning, when I had no clue where I was or where I was going, was obedience in the face of reason.  I was to keep a short account with God, cleanse myself daily of anger, bitterness and resentment, and forgive even when I didn’t feel like it.  Willingness was, and is, always the key.

— Testimonial in Your Father Knows Best:  True Reports from Court of God Moving When People are Praying, compiled by Bob and Charlyne Steinkamp

Not an Endurance Test

It is a sorry and often heard refrain that “love has vanished from our relationship.”  As with many such statements, this is unfair to love.  It’s not love that has disappeared from the relationship, we have.  Lasting love is not a test of endurance.  When we are able to appreciate all the little things which brought us together, and deepen that appreciation over the years, we stay together.  Such a relationship is one of life’s great success stories.

— Leo Buscaglia, Born for Love, p. 181

You Can Opt Out

Although from the outside gaslighting can look like the work of a single, abusive gaslighter, a gaslighting relationship always involves the active participation of two people.  That is, in fact, the good news.  If you’re caught in a gaslighting relationship, you may not be able to change the gaslighter’s behavior, but you can certainly change your own.  Again, it’s not easy, but it is simple:  You can end the gaslighting as soon as you stop trying to win the argument or convince your gaslighter to be reasonable.  Instead, you can simply opt out.

Gaslighting can occur only when a gaslightee tries — consciously or not — to accommodate the gaslighter, or to get him to see things her way, because she so desperately wants his approval so she can feel whole.

— Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect, p. 34-35