I feel like most of my posts begin with what I have been reading recently...but here it is again. :) Lately, I have been reading Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. The book goes through Titus 2:3-5 and describes what it means to be a godly woman according to God's word. Here is the scripture:
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
I could go on for a while of all the things I have learned and been convicted of recently by this book and scripture. In these two verses, Paul addresses loving your husbands and kids, being self-controlled, being kind, being submissive... But, I want to think awhile on working at home...being a homemaker. As we look at the Proverbs 31 women we see her doing many things from managing her household to making good business deals. But, her primary role was caring for her family...she was a homemaker. That has such negative connotations in our society. Outside of my close network of friends, I feel like I have to apologize or give a reason for my staying home. Most women will see me as lazy or backward. I can just imagine what they are thinking..."Oh, if we were all so lucky to just stay at home and not to have to work." Or, "You need to do something better, more meaningful with your life." Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, society portrays the idea that it is second rate to "just be a homemaker." Many women feel like husband and wife should share the responsibility of managing the home equally (and yes, there are certain circumstances where this must be the case, but not on a whole.). I confess that I have battled with my own thoughts of feeling that what I do isn't good enough, and I even had a godly role model in a mother who enjoyed staying home and caring for her family. So, that is why reading this book has been so encouraging. It has served to remind me that this is not just some idea my husband and I had. It is even more than just something I want to do (and I have wanted to do this my whole life---probably from watching my mom). But it is something I am commanded to do. (Now, please let me put in a side note: I know there are women who have no choice but to work outside the home. I am in no way condemning those in that situation. God has ordained our circumstances, and I believe he gives such grace to those women to have a job and care for their homes well.)
My faithful Father has been opening my eyes to see the beauty and worth of being a homemaker. God has created distinct roles for men and women. This does not mean one role is better than another. We are meant to compliment each other...women are meant to be man's helper. There are women who will see this as demeaning towards all woman-kind. But, there is peace and rest in fulfilling the role God has created for us. And, being a homemaker is such a worthy role; although, it is often unappreciated. When I was younger, I rarely thought of all the sacrifices my mom made on my behalf. But that is why God spoke of women being a homemaker in his Word. To remind us of the calling we have. You see, something I have come to realize is that being a homemaker is so much more than just doing mundane tasks everyday to care for our families. It is making our home a haven for our families. It is a place where we can cultivate the environment to reflect the God we serve. It should be a place where powerful ministry takes place. For the truth of the matter is, sharing hospitality, the daily responsibility of teaching our children to love Jesus, listening to a hurting friend, or befriending a lost neighbor to share the gospel is powerful ministry when done in the name of Jesus Christ.
Another very freeing realization is that my homemaking is not tailored to fit my own needs or accomplish my goals of what would make me a great wife and mother. As Carolyn Mahaney says in her book (p. 110), "our main objective as homemakers is to be oriented to our husbands." Well, this clears up things quite nicely! And, it also has solved many of my problems! You see, so often I find myself comparing my abilities or what I do to others. I see women with these amazing talents that I don't have and feel like I don't measure up. But, God does not require me to look at other women to see what I need to be doing as a homemaker, although we can certainly learn and benefit from each other. No, I am first to look to God's word, and then to my husband. For example, I really wish I were great at working in the yard. I wish I had wonderful abilities to plant flowers and make then flourish. But, I simply don't. On top of that, I have TERRIBLE allergies. So pretty much anytime I even go outside I feel terrible after about 20 minutes. Thus said, my husband has no desire for me to work in the yard. He would rather me stay indoors and feel well rather than have pretty flowers and feel bad. I would not be serving my husband in any way if I decided to do yard work. I sat down the other night and just asked my husband what was important to him, and I learned that my expectations were much higher than his. He appreciates a clean house, clean clothes, cooked meals, and all I do for our daughter. But, all the detailed cleaning and organizing that I would love to do are not important to him. He would rather I order my day so that we can spend quality time together in the evenings---not be so busy or exhausted from accomplishing my to-do list that we have no quality time together. Also, as I look at the wonderful giftings of other women, I can appreciate them, but not feel like I have to be just like them. I can rest in the fact that God has gifted me as he saw fit to meet the needs of my own family.
As I have been pondering and applying all these things, I have found so much joy! As I am fulfilling my role of wife and mom, I am doing these things so "the word of God may not be reviled." (vs. 5) That is so powerful! I have seen a huge difference in many homes where the mother is joyfully loving her home and family. No home is perfect, but there is peace and a genuine enjoyment of one another. The family desires to be with one another. These things should separate us from the world. The world should see our home, and it should reflect the love of Jesus. Thus, we are obeying and fulfilling the word of God. Not reviling it. And, God gets so much glory. So, from the way I see it, being a homemaker is a high calling and an honor. May I, each day, seek to serve my family well in the way I manage our home so that the love of Jesus may be shown, and our God may be praised!