And I knew it wasn't a compliment. Not for a woman, from a woman. At least it didn't feel like a compliment. It felt like a jab. But maybe it's because I feel guilty. Guilty because currently, I'm a stay-at-home mom of 4 children. And there are some people who would wonder why in the world I'm going back to school and making plans to go to work when I have all these Little People. They would argue that my calling is here, at home, to take care of them. Right now, I can't handle the little joke that I'm "abandoning" my children for my "ambition". There are those who might argue that ambition in a woman with children is misplaced. A bad thing. That her place is at home. Period. Paragraph. That God wouldn't have given her children if she were meant for any other thing.
But if it's a bad thing, why is it so fulfilling to me? Why do I feel so renewed when I'm working for the betterment of my residents? Why do I feel like I can mother better when I'm finished?
I did an informal internet survey by posting on my Facebook page this question: Is ambition in a woman considered a positive or negative trait? The two men who answered, answered unequivocally, that it was a positive trait. My husband was floored that I would even suggest that ambition was anything but a good thing. But there a couple of women who said it depended and a couple of women who said it was absolutely a good thing and even one person who pointed out that the aggressive woman is often labelled a bitch and the aggressive man is ambitious.
So is it a gender issue?
Does it even matter?
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines ambition as 1 a: an ardent desire for rank, fame or power; b: desire to achieve a particular end.
Seems even the dictionary can't make up its mind. What do we really think of when we think of ambition? Is it the general desire to achieve a particular end or is the ardent desire for rank, fame or power? Does it even matter?
But I'm not going to feel guilty about it anymore, whatever anyone else thinks. I was lucky enough to hear a sermon this morning about being wired for passionate living. That it challenges, fulfills both me and others and sets me free from the burden of comparison. That through grace, I have been uniquely gifted, as an individual, and I am empowered by God. I know that through serving others in the way I am wired, I myself will be refreshed and renewed. That, if I am serving in the right way and in the right area, I will feel compelled and driven to serve. I won't have to be manipulated or shamed into doing it.
It was as if I had received a divine sign from God to press on and do what He called me to do when I was 20 years old. No more guilt, and if you say to me, "That's ambitious!" I'm going to agree. No matter how you mean it.