I recently indulged in a late-night showing of “The Devil Wears Prada” on cable, escaping into the over-the-top satire depicting the battle between “the devil” (Meryl Streep as the fabulously autocratic magazine editor) and “the noble heart” (Anne Hathaway as the doe-eyed naive idealist assistant), whom the devil is craftily lulling over to the “dark side.” The dark side in this story is enticing: It’s glamour, it’s fame, it’s Paris, it’s being at the top of your game, it’s being recognized for what you do. Haven’t we all stared longingly into a similar picture at least once, wondering if the dark side is really so bad?
Yet in this movie, the noble heart wakes up from her dreamy escapade to the dark side and realizes that what her heart is truly searching for won’t be found here. She realizes that what others might perceive to be “the good life” is not the life for her. Another win for good versus evil in the battle between worldly glory and soulful fulfillment.
Which brings me to my question: What’s your “devil” wearing?
My devil is dressed much like Anne Hathaway’s devil — not quite the egotistical fashionista Meryl Streep, but more like a Calvin Klein-wearing polished, professional publishing maven that commands respect and, even sometimes, celebrity status. It’s been seven years since I did full-time work in the journalism field, and for the most part, I’m extremely satisfied to have escaped the downward spiral of deadlines & dollar signs demanding more from me than I was willing to give. Yet watching Anne’s character struggle with the chance for success in the face of so much sacrifice, I am reminded that my devil still taunts me.
When I see an old colleague’s name in the news, an old grad school pal’s promotion announcement in the alumni journal, or another hot blog being run by someone I used to know, the devil comes back to fill my ears with new doubt. Am I really better off having left those opportunities behind so I can scrub bathrooms, change diapers, run a shuttle service, juggle business calls, struggle to find new customers, and otherwise fade into oblivion?
It doesn’t help when others join the taunting. “That could have been you,” my father once said during a movie where an over-glorified, over-glamorized magazine writer lands New York cover success. Then there’s the dismissing look I often receive from fellow business people when I introduce myself as a sales director for Mary Kay, and not some other highly regarded title. A consultant on my team was recently shut out of membership to a business group supporting “mamapreneurs” because the leaders felt that our business didn’t fit the definition of “real” entrepreneur. My devil has picked up a supporting cast, it seems, and together their voices are growing louder.
Don’t get me wrong: I know there’s nothing inherently evil about my former career. In fact, I celebrate my friends for the name they’ve made for themselves and the work that led to their achievements. But for me, there came a turning point where the sacrifice was too great to reach for that next rung of success in my field. At the crossroads, I stared down two distinctly different paths, and chose the one less glamorous, leading toward a life where my priorities could be reordered and my life could be directed by a different driver.
Even though I’ve been on this new path for years now, there are times when my devil sneaks up on me with a stylish new look for an enticing reminder of what could have been. It’s especially powerful when I find myself floundering in my new, less graceful role as mother/entrepreneur/wife/woman, wondering when — if ever — I’ll feel quite as successful as I did before. But there’s a still small voice that snaps me back to reality just as my curiosity and doubt cause me to stare longingly over at my dark side. He calls me to follow Him, down an imperfect, uncertain road that leads toward an unseen, eternal reward.
That voice has a supporting cast too: A hug-happy toddler, an animated and fun-loving kindergartener, an inquisitive and thoughtful second grader, and an affectionate and supportive husband — just to name a few. A blissful moment in the company of these amazing characters fills my heart with peace, and my devil is stripped of all pretentious appeal and shrinks back into the darkness. A glimpse outside my home office window at the endless blue sky and snow-kissed forest rather than a concrete jungle, and my devil looks hopelessly awkward and unattractive. A card from a fellow work-at-home mama who thanks me for helping her start a new, more fulfilling chapter in her life, and my devil is left speechless.
I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. My choice has been made, and, thankfully, my devil is losing that shiny allure.
It’s about time.
—Renée Gotcher, a Durango Mama
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: It shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” — Isaiah 55:8-11