To the East Coast and Back with Sheryl and Lena

driving down the highwayIt’s a 12 hour drive from my current home in the Midwest to my former home on the East Coast and I decided to listen to two books on my most recent trip there and back – mostly for their sociological insights on women. They reflect what two differently successful women have learned.

[Note: I am sorrowfully obsessed with Sheryl Sandberg these days. And I am not much of a Lena Dunham fan. Self-absorption = ugh. But I’d like to understand her.]

One of the joys of my life is talking with women of all ages about their calling. Family, friends, colleagues, seminarians.

I believe that we are called – not to a particular thing necessarily as in “God is calling me to buy this specific red car” – but to a general way of abundant life that feeds us spiritually so that we might make a positive impact in the world. God’s will is not always particular. Sometimes yes (e.g. God: “This is definitely your next job!“) Sometimes no. (e.g. God: “Really, you’ll be fine either way.”)

Discerning our journey in life is ceaselessly interesting to me.

  • How do I decide between Q & Z?
  • Am I making the biggest mistake of my life if I do X?
  • Will I ruin my professional life if I just drop out and go to South America for a few years?
  • Should I marry someone whose work will require us to live in a place where I don’t particularly want to live?
  • Will I regret it forever if I don’t grab this opportunity to live on the Space Station?
  • Is it professional suicide to move back home or have a baby or take a year long internship in Mozambique?

Sometimes our decisions feel this dramatic.

What helps make sound decisions and – after those decisions are made – what helps us glean the most from our experiences? Generally speaking, it seems that there are some common threads that keep us engaged and moving forward:

  • Be curious.
  • Accept the positives.
  • Don’t allow life to “happen to you.” (Enough of life is random as it is. But here are proactive choices we can make.)
  • Help others on their own journey.
  • Stop confusing transactional for relational.

More about these threads this week.

PS Here is a lovely tribute to Sheryl Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg.

2 responses to “To the East Coast and Back with Sheryl and Lena

  1. Jan,

    I am Ron Shive, the pastor/head of staff at the First Presbyterian Church of Burlington, NC. On Sunday, I quoted your blog post about invisible mothers in my sermon. At the door following the service, a church member and good friend, Gayle Gunn, asked me if Jan Edmiston had attended UNC. When I said that I think that I remembered that from one of her earlier blog posts, she told me that you were sorority sisters.

    I have given her your email address and hope that she will contact you and renew the relationship.

    Thank you for your blog and for faithful work with Chicago Presbytery!

    Grace and peace,
    Ron Shive

    Ronald L. Shive
    First Presbyterian Church
    508 West Davis Street
    Burlington, North Carolina 27215
    336-228-1703 – office
    336-263-1884 – cell
    336-229-6605 – home


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