11 March 2010

Give me a break. No, really.

There's another thing I don't get about this Women's Leadership Institute business (of which WLI proper is only the top fish in the bucket). Something that's come up a time or two here at CSPP is that fruitful multiplication is, you know, challenging. That's true whether you do it once or thirteen times, or in a lifetime throughout which that gift is withheld, and regardless of your hermeneutical approach to "be fruitful and multiply."

Now, I am a huge wimp and as such want to get as much sympathy as possible for my pains. So when I hear clucking about women "being allowed" to do more, the first thing I want to ask is what the heck I'm doing right now and why it isn't good enough. Respected eldresses, don't you have the same scars I do? Weren't you as tired as I am? Didn't you feel as alone and overwhelmed and unappreciated? Weren't you flattened by hopelessness when you saw how shamefully unequal you were to this calling? Didn't you have to fight against the pride and contempt that threatened your soul when you considered your hardships in comparison with . . . other people?

But apparently it really isn't good enough. Apparently women need "leadership" too. Kids, you were just an aggravation necessitated by conventionalism, a sidebar to the real me. I suffered purgatorially to sustain your life; raised you hour by lonely hour because that's what people do, but now I'm ready for something that matters. Now that I've got you over with, here come my opportunities and my props. I mean, my ministry and service and stewardship of my unparalleled gifts.

The poor esteem in which the draining work of motherhood is held by mothers is absolutely staggering. I mean, it makes no sense! Demand less, girls! If we say it's not enough, the world is all too eager to wring more out of us. Sheesh!

Anyway. Here's what I like about my husband besides his mad skills and how he looks in a rose chasuble. A while ago I asked him what I'm going to do with myself a million years from now after all these babies grow up and move out. I have a teaching degree but zero desire to use it in any professional sense, not to mention that with all the continuing education and certifications and licenses and whatever other fabricated hoops will exist by that time I'll be pretty un-employable. Visions of becoming a 58 year old Sandwich Artist started dancing in my head.

Ham ministry is ministry too.

He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Read books and make my supper." No speech about using my gifts. No plans for me to finally start contributing to our retirement savings. Not even any bogus encouragement about pursuing my dreams or, worse, getting serious about ministry at long last. He sees what I do, and he knows I've got a break coming one of these decades, DV.

Should God see fit to grant me that break, I certainly look forward to reading books and making supper for my much adored husband. But I also hope to spend lots of time as a postpartum doula for my daughters and daughters-in-law. I hope to spend lots of time with my grandchildren. I hope to pick up some of the slack at our church, wherever that may be, because all churches have slack to pick up.

For now, though, I hope that more sisters in Christ will recognize that the work God has given us most directly and plainly is a fire deliberately appointed to consume the dross of the daughters of Eve; that he intends for us to reap from that work fulfillment rather than discontentment and bitterness; that we would find our identities by utterly losing them; that we would embrace our crosses in humility rather than bloating our grotesque ambition with gaseous pride. Sorry, leading ladies. This is our primary duty, and although I may not always like it, I do love it, for what can one do but love what God has given her?


JenniferH said...

Well said.

Check this out:
Kitschy, but perhaps a good reminder.

Rebecca said...

Woo, hoo! Thank you! I'm young and just started my journey through motherhood, but even before it began, before I even met my husband, I wanted to ask these "leading ladies," "Being feminine isn't enough, we have to be masculine, too?"

Sue said...

Great post. My own blessings are grown, no grandchildren yet. My children's father did not respect me as a stay at home mother. He also placed his family below his job in importance. Harder to value your important work in bringing up children when your own husband doesn't value it. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, because of some things I later learned) he left me when my boys were 7 and 4 and I had to go to work to support us. I wish I could have stayed home with them.

Anonymous said...

Taken a little out of context, but your post reminded me of this:

Is it not an excellent boast to know and say that, if you perform your daily domestic task, this is better than all the sanctity and ascetic life of monks? And you have the promise, in addition, that you shall prosper in all good and fare well. How can you lead a more blessed or holier life as far as your works are concerned?

(Large Catechism on the 4th Commandment)

Marie said...

Thanks again, Rebekah! God has been answering my recent prayers with a "yes": Though, I also, do not wish to use my teaching degree, I've always felt the need to "get out of the house" with my girls. Not that there's anything wrong with going to the library, playgroups, etc, but my heart was in the wrong place. I got out because I wasn't content at home. Add child number 3 to the mix, and I physically couldn't get everyone out of the house! It was more work than staying at home. But, as I said, the Lord granted me peace and the spirit of satisfaction. We all stay at home 5 days a week, and we're growing to love it... how thankful I am for that gift! It so unfair for us SAHM to be made to feel guily for not "living up to our potential". Thanks for saying it more eloquently than I ever could!

Rebekah said...

Thanks for the link, Jen.

Rebecca, God bless you as you get started. It gets easier once you get some momentum on your side.

Sue, you're tough.

Anon, nice. Was it the good Rev. Pless who characterized short term missions and other "ministries" as neo-monasticism?

Marie, I think all new moms have some wanderlust, and I don't know that it's a terrible sin or anything. It is a big adjustment to be in the house all the time when you've always been free to go before, so it's nice that it isn't so hard to get out with one or two. Then by the time you get to 3+, you've gotten used to it.

Sue said...

I have to add to my comment above, since I said no grandchildren yet. Well, I just found out 3 days ago that one is on the way! I'm so excited!! I spent all day Saturday putting a quilt top together for the new baby, and Sunday afternoon I was back at church to baste the layers together - I always do this in the narthex, for 2 reasons: I don't have the floor space and I have 2 feline "helpers" who would end up with basting spray all over their feet! Probably not the safest thing to be licking... I'm so excited to move on to this new chapter.

Thanks for saying I'm tough! I wouldn't have thought so at one time - being a single mother is HARD and at times I could have just melted into a little puddle. But I've learned I'm a lot tougher than I ever thought I could be and how weak and selfish some men can be, having been married to one of those. I learned there are worse things that being alone. I guess God wanted me to have those particular sons, and also not to be stuck with such a selfish person all my life, though I think divorce is awful.

Life hasn't gone exactly as I had hoped, but I am blessed! I am a child of God and he loves me exactly as I am.

Rebekah said...

Sue, that's great news! Happy quilting and grandmothering! :)

Sue said...

Thank you, Rebekah! Quilting prayers into that quilt!