It was a bright spring day. One of the first warm days after a long cold winter. The air was fresh and clean. Gentle breezes would bring the sweet smell of new blossoms that had unfolded everywhere. Everyone wanted to be outside to soak in the beautiful day.
In my mind, I can clearly see my little sixteen month old daughter reaching up to hold the arthritis-deformed finger of “Granny B”, our ninety year old neighbor. We were at the park, and I watched as my baby tottered with the uncertainty of her new walking skill, and Granny B tottered with the uncertainty of her old legs. They moved at about the same speed, and each time they bent over to pick up a dandelion or clover blossom, I wondered if I was going to need to bend over to pick one of them up off the ground. It was a precious sight to see, and as I sat back on the park bench enjoying the scene before me, I looked around to see if anyone else was enjoying the scene with me.
The park was full of business people. It was lunchtime. At the different picnic tables were groups of men, groups of women, and mixed groups of men and women. There were few tables with couples who, by their mannerisms, did not look like husbands and wives. Everyone was so serious as they discussed their “important matters” amongst themselves. Although the park was full of people, no one seemed to see the precious scene of the tottering Granny and baby.
It was an eye opening experience for me to realize that only two springs earlier, I was one of those business people, so caught up in “important matters”. How quickly I went from “career woman” to wife, mother, and home keeper. Unfortunately, my mental changes were not as quick as my physical changes. I brought into the marriage, quite a few thought processes that did not contribute to the shalom of our home.
During our engagement period, my soon-to-be husband and I discussed many different topics to determine what would be the conviction of our home. There were three things in particular we both felt strongly about:
? We would not practice any child rejection methods (birth control).
? We would not have a television in our home.
? I would stay at home.
The reason we thought I should stay at home, was so that I could be a helpmate to my husband, fully submitted to him and his plans for our family, not partially submitted to him and partially submitted to a career that may demand me to spend time differently than my husband would think best. We were also hoping YHWH would bless us with many children that we could nurture in our home. He graciously answered our prayers by letting us come home from our honeymoon with a precious life growing within me.
My husband, Tom, often says there is a big difference in beliefs and convictions. Unfortunately, I had more of a belief than a conviction, about giving up my career when we actually became married. Several things stood in the way to keep me from staying home. The biggest obstacle was debt. We had a large one at the beginning of our marriage, and I was not trusting in YHWH and Tom to take care of it without my financial contribution.
The next obstacle, was that I liked what I was doing. The work was enjoyable and I was appreciated. The company was also in the process of moving to a larger building. An office designer sat down with me to decide the needs of the new office I was to be moving into. What type of furniture did I need? How high did I need a table so I could review reports comfortably? What colors did I want to use? I felt obligated to stay. After all, the company was designing an office just for me. Another obstacle was fear. For eleven years I worked for wages. I knew how to wake up and walk out the door. My training started at the age of five, as I went off to kindergarten, and was reinforced in my years in public school. I did not know how, or even why, to stay at home. I falsely believed I had more value outside of my home than in it.
What made me overcome these obstacles? My growing tummy. With morning sickness, and all the comments from co-workers that made me even more sick, like; “You have got to line up your daycare NOW!” (I was three months pregnant), and “It’s very hard to find space for newborns!”; it was easy to finally give my notice and stay at home.
It has been eight years and three more babies since I gave up the meaningless chatter of office gossip and over-used current buzz words, to the perfect praise and chatter of joyful children. Even so, the mental adjustments I have had to make to be committed to my family and home, continue to this day.
Although I know beyond a shadow of doubt what I am doing is correct, our society condemns me with the attitude that I am living like a lazy woman of low intelligence, who sits in front of a TV all day, while her wild unkempt children destroy the house. You’ve probably heard some of these comments, or maybe have been guilty, like myself, of saying them: I’d go crazy if I had to stay home all day!”, “I would be bored stiff, I need something worthwhile to do!”, and “I can’t stay at home and waste my God-given talent!”.
Comments like these make home seem like a horrible place to be. Another comment often heard is; “Is that all you do?” That response used to make me cringe, after I told someone that I stay at home and take care of my family. I found myself trying to think up something more important that would meet the questioner’s approval. I would start listing things.
“Well … I homeschool, garden, sew, bake bread, blah, blah, blah …”. From time to time, I need to renew my mind from Titus 2:4-5, as the constant assault against my Biblical position tries to take me off the path I have chosen. I no longer feel guilty, or feel that I must justify what YHWH has called me to do.
I never realized how selfish I was, until I stayed home, especially after the children came. I was still in the thinking mode of the world. I wanted my daily chores completed in a certain time period and then be off, just like when I worked for wages. I became quite irritable when something came up that needed to be taken care of during the time period that I considered myself “off”. What a freedom I felt when I realized that by trying to have “my time off”, I was not following Yeshua’s example of being a servant. A servant may have periods of rest, but he is always expected to be available when needed.
In the past, I have done projects/ministry that I was pressured to participate in because other people determined I was available. After all, “all I did was stay at home”. Because of trying to meet someone else’s value system of how to spend my time, I did many things that seemed important or acceptable. What I finally realized was, these “important matters” stole from my time with my family.
How many sweet moments kissing my baby’s cheeks were lost, as I rushed through nursing so I get to this or that project? How many conversations have I cut short with my children, that gave them insights into this world and YHWH’s plan for them, because I had wasted too much time talking on the phone and now dinner was late? How many smiles did I not give, and not receive, because I did not notice the little people around me, as I thought on “important matters”. I have come to realize the most important matter for my day, is to walk in the Father’s loving law so that I may teach it to my children when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. If that is all we accomplish in a day … Halleluyah!
When I was a little girl, all the newscasters on the TV and radio were men. Nowadays, it seems a lot of newscasters are women who try to talk with a manly voice and have masculine mannerisms. And so it goes with many occupations. When I worked for wages, the need to prove I could do the same job as a man, consumed my thoughts. Bringing those thoughts into my marriage was not beneficial. It made me compete with Tom, instead of following the Father’s design of submission. It also made me try to control Tom. After all, if I could do what he could do, he ought to do the cooking and cleaning too. It would be only fair, right? I have had to die to the lie that I need to prove something. I have seen the blessings of being in submission to my husband. Now my desire is to walk in this submission and not stumble and rebel against it as often as I do.
Probably the most difficult area I have in renewing my mind, is in the area of finances. Working for wages instilled an independent spirit in me. With an income, I was in control of where I lived, what I drove, what I ate, what I wore, and how I spent my time and money. All these areas changed after I was married. However, I still had a desire to control the finances. It was a very subtle control, though. After all, I am supposed to be Tom’s helpmate, right? This seemed to be the one area I wanted to help him the most. It was not that I wanted to buy a lot of stuff, I just wanted to determine the best way to handle what Tom earned. Going by past experience, I seemed to do a better job at handling the finances than T om. I was submissive to T om about the finances, as long as he was going along with what I thought was best. If he did not see the wisdom of my ways, I felt the need to convince him that my way was right. The word argue could fit in here. When we realized what difficulty I had in this area, we tried many different ways to overcome the problem. At this time, it has been best for me to stay totally out of the financial matters of our marriage. This has brought me much personal peace and freedom.
When I worked for wages, I could be kept motivated to do a good job, by a variety of incentives; good feelings from completing a project, monetary gain in the form of raises and bonuses, material goods, etc. In our home, before we kept Shabbat (Sabbath) and the feasts, I had a difficult time keeping my momentum up to do the tasks before me.
Before I could complete the laundry, another basket filled with dirty clothes. As soon as the stove was sparkling clean, a pot boiled over. I would clean the windows, and little three inch hand prints would appear instantaneously. I would get frustrated, and feel like I never accomplished anything.
Then Tom said he wanted to keep the Sabbath, and he did not want me to do housework from sundown Friday to the next sundown. I was not a happy camper! I couldn’t get all my work done in seven days, and now he expected me to do it in six?!?! I did a good bit of grumbling and complaining, and tried to show Tom how impossible it was to do what he asked. What was the big deal about the Sabbath anyway? I thought there were so many more important things in the Bible to be concerned about. Then Father YHWH rebuked me. Just because I thought the Sabbath was not important, does not meant that it isn’t. He showed me that six days I was to labor and do all my work, and I needed to seek His help and direction of how to make it work. I did, He did, and finally it did work. The Sabbath and the feasts and the joy they bring, have become my motivational factor of how to order my time and tasks for the week. Our lives revolve around them. Keeping the Father’s law has taken stress away from our home. It has replaced the stress with joy and the Father’s shalom. Now, I can honestly say: “I love Shabbat and the Feasts!!”