I warned you in the first post that I would be debunking several myths and writing down my thoughts — apparently I have a LOT of thoughts about this. Or there are just a lot of misconceptions floating around out there……but either way, lets see if I can’t wrap up this today.
(If you missed it, here’s part one, and here’s part two)
So, what have I learned through this whole “staying at home” business? What are some important things I would tell anyone who was considering this as a valid option?
First, when I started to consider staying at home, I had NO idea there was a “movement” centered around this issue. I actually do not consider myself as part of that movement, by the way. I was honestly convicted of this option being right for me as I was praying and studying God’s word on my own and with my family.
This idea that sounds so romanticized when young is in actuality much harder. And there are so many more reasons to staying at home than the few I heard about. But there is nothing like actually doing something to fully understand the implications something has, the far reaching effects.
The decision to stay at home after graduation was an easy one for me, because I had struggled with it when I was much younger. The hard part comes as I grow older.
“Oh, look — my good friend is getting married!”
“I got an email from so and so and they are expecting their second child!”
“So and so is going to leave the country to be a missionary.”
“This friend just published their fifth book in the series!”
All while I am…..sitting here at home. Huh. Nice one, that.
This is actually what sparked this series of posts — discouragement. Life isn’t happening as fast for us as we had planned, and so we take into our own hands, and start trying to fulfill the desires we have. the desires for fame and glory and wealth and family and doing something — anything — bigger and better than we could do at home.
I have seen it. I have felt it. I have watched as myriads of daughters leave their homes to go out into the world to do “something big” for their Lord, all the while they are missing the call the Lord has already placed on their lives.
I wrote something along these lines the first year after I graduated: “Many people discount this staying at home because they feel as if they aren’t being productive. They aren’t doing anything glamorous for the Saviour. All they will end up doing is being a drudge….washing dishes….folding laundry….wiping noses….changing diapers. But is that really all they are doing? Anybody can wipe a dish dry. Tie a shoe. But it takes a special person, who loves Christ, to do it joyfully. Happily. Once again, for the umpteenth time, to wash that dish. To wipe that runny nose. And to do it with a good attitude. Is there any work we can call drudgery when it is done in our Saviour’s name? For His glory?” (full article here)
Three years after writing that, I can smile. I was eighteen years old, full of conviction that life was simple. All you have to do is to follow the path the Lord has written for your life. Just do it, and everything will fall into place.
It isn’t that simple.
See, being a daughter at home is not all about domestic duties. My youngest sibling is two right now; the one immediately older than him is five. Not too very many noses being wiped and diapers being changed around here anymore :-) Still laundry and dishes. And school lessons to teach and a garden to weed and so many more things to do. Seasons change. We change. We grow, and we mature, and we learn things. Staying at home isn’t all about becoming a perfect little “Suzy Homemaker”, it isn’t about learning to keep a house so perfectly spotless that we are never caught off our guard by surprise guests coming in.
My father put it perfectly when explaining to a couple of sweet older women when questioned why we were still at home. He told them that he was raising wives. Our homes are a mission field for Christ, yes, but so are our very lives. Our husbands need much more from us that just a clean home and meals cooked to perfection. We need to learn how to support them in the work the Lord has given to them; to communicate effectively with them; to encourage them when circumstances are discouraging; to rise up and be a helper suitable for them. And while a nice clean home fit for hospitality is appreciated, I’m sure, it’s not the only thing we should be doing and learning.
I have spent about a year and a half of my time these last four years being at home away from home, away from my parents, serving in different capacities that the Lord has trusted me with.
I have come to realize an important truth: being at home is more about learning to balance everything that needs to get done in a place where we can make mistakes safely than it is about having a spotless house.
It’s about learning to know when to stick to a schedule, and when to ditch the plans we’ve made and let life just happen.
It’s about learning to trust God, even when days are long and tempers are short, and emotions are roller coasters.
It’s about maturing in our walk with Christ, living life with joy, and running the race set before us.
It’s about being content exactly where we are right now at this moment, ’cause if the Lord had wanted us to be somewhere different, in a different circumstance, we would be there.
Trust me, I am far from discounting a clean house. But there are times, as I have learned, that cleaning the house can go by the wayside. When it pretty much has to. When dishes can pile up and wait, when meals must be served late, and when the piles of laundry must become a mountain you have to climb over. (Thirteen people generate a l.o.t. of laundry, by the way :D) When termites invade your house, uninvited; when people you love dearly are sick in the hospital; when dishes must be washed in the bathroom sink regardless of our feelings about cleanliness.
For me, staying at home and learning to balance a clean house, teaching seven people of different ages, teaching math in a way that can be understood, cooking, washing and folding laundry, and working in the garden are important parts of the picture.
But that doesn’t make it the whole picture.
The most important part of the picture, for me, is being available for wherever God sees fit to send me for the day. My mother and father don’t have the advantage of being able to run off to help someone in need, and one of these days I won’t be able to either. They have a family to care for, to provide for, to raise up. I don’t. I can leave my home at the drop of a hat if I need to, knowing that in serving the Lord in whichever way I am, I am acting as an advocate for my parents. They can’t do it, although they would love to, while I can.
I can spend days and nights with my grandparents when I need to. I can help a sweet widow at our church, or put together packages for friends who need a happy surprise, or make calls for a political campaign because I am home. I have the time and ability to learn new music for the church that we are attending, and I have time to figure out certain melodies for the piano that have hitherto been only played on a guitar.
As I mentioned before, it’s hard. When I first graduated, I had this idealized dream that I would be at home for a year or two, I would get married, and move on with my own family, my own children, my own home, and so on and so on. (and yes, when I shared this with a sweet friend recently, who is preparing for her wedding in a short time, we both had a good laugh over how we had planned our lives — and how none of our plans had come to pass in the way we had expected ;D)
Four years later, I am still at home, in my fathers house, with no husband in sight.
And this another lesson I’ve learned.
Just because we are at home doesn’t mean that we have no life to live. We can live life now. We can live happy, content in our Saviours love. We can see a need and meet it. We can do things for God’s glory.
I have learned that I need to live my life right now, have goals right now, so that in ten years, whether I am married or not, I have something to show for what I did. And I’m not necessarily talking about monetary gain here. I am saying that I want people who know me ten years from now to be able to say, truthfully, that I have grown in the Lord. That I have matured. That I have encouraged them and challenged them.
I need to learn that, while getting married would be nice, I don’t need a husband. I have Christ, who should be my al-in-all. And I have plenty of friends who have married, who have had children, who have told me that what I have always heard is plenty true: if you don’t have a habit of spending time with the Lord now, you definitely won’t have time when you are married with a household to run.
I need to learn to be content now, in the circumstances I am in now. I need to learn to wait patiently, and while waiting, live for God’s glory. All of life is a waiting game. Once I get married, I will be waiting for children. Then for the birth. Then for the milestones. For that matter, if I do ever start a relationship with that “special someone” it will still be a waiting game of engagement rings, wedding planning, house hunting, and the actual wedding day itself.
So right now, I need to learn to be content where I am.
When I first graduated, I had a friend tell me that never would she sit around waiting on life to come knocking’ on her door — she would pursue it and go after it, getting all the experiences society tells Americans that we need to get before “life” really starts to get serious with a family and such. And I have made this my goal, in a slightly different context then she was speaking about. She was referring to the all American “college experience”, dating relationships, career opportunities, car payments, living on her own, and everything else society tells us we need to do before we can be successful adults. I took it to mean something quite different. No, we can’t let life pass us by because we are in our father’s home and not our own. We can’t become morose and downhearted and discouraged by everything we see going on around us.
But we don’t necessarily need the experiences she was talking about. In our culture, we have made an idol out of all of this, form both sides of the spectrum. No, college life isn’t ideal. But neither is the girl who remains home, pining away her days for Prince Charming to come and rescue her form a life of drudgery…..because I have a hunch that Prince Charming will get hungry for a made-from-scratch meal, want his clothes clean, folded, and ironed, need his home clean so mice and bugs don’t find it hospitable, need his socks matched for him, his dirty laundry picked up from beside the bed, his shoes put away in the closet, his papers organized, his children fed, disciplined, and taught, a budget for the household followed……and in many ways he will need more than what we give to our own parents and the homes we live in right now. Because many of us have mothers who are the managers of a lot of this, and have siblings who share the tasks of the household with us, so we don’t have it all on our shoulders.
All of that goes towards explaining the advice and encouragement I would give to any young person planning on staying at home: Don’t wait for life to come knockin’ at your door. Take hold of it and live it, for God’s glory alone. Learn to trust Him, in all things, even when His timing isn’t your timing, and you grow weary of the waiting and the struggles and the disappointments. These days are when you put what you’ve been learning all your life into practice — even when it is hard. Take heart and remain steadfast, for He who guided you to this path will keep you to the end.
Grow in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
May the Lord bless you, my friend!