stay at home vs. working.

Every single woman in the world knows what that post title is about, right?

Is there a longer standing feud in all of womanhood?
I really can't think of one. 

I think every single woman I have ever met has a strong opinion on the subject and can, at a moments notice, can give you a numbered list on why one is better (or more "right") than the other. 

I have read blogs that swear that if a woman does any kind of work outside of what you would deem normal housework than she is going against Biblical laws.  Period.   They believe that women are there to cook, clean and take care of the family.  Done.  And these are real people...I know you know people like this.

I have known other people that claim that stay at home moms are just lazy women who won't get out there and work for a living.  I have always thought that clearly these women have never stayed home to be "lazy". 
Then there are all sorts of in betweens out there.  And honestly, I have always been kind of confused about what God really wants from us women.  I mean...does He want our time spent solely taking care of our family? Does He want us out there working to relieve some of the stress of our husbands?   The only concrete answers I could come away from with this was that I knew that our husbands are to be the head of the household...and that things should fall in line behind that shield of guidance and wisdom.  As for what our entire role as wife and mother was to look like...I really had no idea.  

For ME...I always knew that I was going to be a stay at home mom.  I basically told Doug on our second date "Look, I have no intention of being a career woman.  So if that is something you want in a wife and you are not ok with me staying at home with our children...then this should be our last date".  

Needless to say he still married me.

I know several Jesus loving women who just stay at home with their kids.  And I don't me "just" as in there is nothing to it, I mean "just" as in they don't have a side job like me.  They know they are doing what God has set out before them for their lives.  

I also know several women who I know to be God fearing and in love with the Lord...and they have excellent careers.  And these are women who I KNOW seek the Lord in all they do and wouldn't glance over asking for guidance in the area of working outside the home. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that I was confused by the variety in my life.  I couldn't have told you what the common thread among them all was...and then like every other thing I have learned hit me through scripture. 

You may have heard this one before.  It goes something like this.   My notes are in parenthesis:

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
(She is unique and hard to find!)

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.  
(He can trust her totally!!!!)

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
(Her focus and intent is good)

She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
(She does not begrudge her household chores)

She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
(She goes the extra mile for quality and good bargains)

She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
(She does what she knows has to be done...not lazy)

She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(Good with her money and looks for wise opportunities)

She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
(She is energetic and ready to go!)

She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
(She is a hardworking good steward...uses her time wisely)

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle. 
(She is diligent and consistent at working.)

She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
(She looks out for those in need)

 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
(She provides carefully for the future)

 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
(She is elegant)

Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.  
(She is well known for good reasons)

She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 
(She makes takes advantage of good opportunities)

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.  
(She is poised)

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
(She is wise)

She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. 
 (She takes care of her home)

Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying
 (She is praiseworthy)

Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.
(She is rare and distinguished)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 
(She follows the Lords way)

Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates. 
 (She is honored)

Now I, probably like you, have read that a million times.  And before when I read it...I thought...well isn't that special...who can be like that? Really?  What a nice thought but how can this really apply to my life today?  I mean maybe I can try to be like that in some areas...but all of them?  Are you kidding me? 

And then the last time I read smacked. me. in. the. face. 

While this proverb IS a list that God sets before us to aim for...I feel like this last reading let me see another layer to it.  And from now on, when I read it...this is what will be playing in the background of my mind...

It's about balance.  It's about family harmony.  It's about what makes your family tick the way that God intended it.  After reading it I realized that (I don't think) there is a set plan out there for everyone.  I think God has a plan for each and every family and it is up to us to seek His will in the matter of staying at home vs working.  It is about what is BEST for our particular family.

To balance is staying at home...while sewing for a small living...while managing my house...while taking care of my husband...while taking care of my kids.

Your balance may not look anything like mine...and you can still be in God's will for your life.  We don't have to look the same.  I think God is awesome that way.

I kept getting this word picture in my head...of God holding me in one hand...and all my jobs in His other hand.  To me that represents doing what He has called me to do and Him doing the balancing...not me because I am doing what He calls me to do. 
The only time I am unbalanced...when my household is out of whack and when I am going when I am trying to hold the things that God was holding for me...or trying to hold things that aren't on His list for me.  Does that makes sense to you?

  I guess what I am trying to that I came away from this last reading of Proverbs 31 with this:   As a wife and mom we have to consider the following in every choice we make...does what I pursue(job, commitments, hobbies) bring my family harmony or strife?  Will this choice bring my family happiness or stress?  Will this choice bring my husband pride or embarrass or undermine him and his role as provider?  Will my choice benefit my family in a way that God wanted or will I cause consequences that were never intended?

I now understand the proverbs 31 woman to be a wife who is protective of her family's well being and her husbands reputation, as well of her own.  She seeks ways to add to her family's wealth so that she can help others too...she seeks God's will in all she does and because of that God blesses her in all she does...she brings good to her household and her children and her husband because of it.  She makes choices that keeps God's will for her life in the center...and that still leaves her able to pursue business and work and charity and friends and all sorts of other things.  She pursues only what God intends and not what the world is telling her she should.  She defines herself by the Lords standards and not by the worlds.

All in all...there is no clear cut recipe.  You have to figure out what God wants for you.  Maybe that means you work...maybe that means you stay at home.  Whatever brings that balance and harmony.

And maybe, just maybe, we should stop worrying about what others are doing and why...and worry more about what WE are doing and why. 

  The only clear cut thing is to see what God wants.  If He wants it for you...then He makes the way and not you.  Can I encourage you in that?  I KNOW what it is like to have to make a choice that doesn't make sense to the world but makes perfect sense to God.

When I had Moses, Doug and I were both working but I KNEW I was supposed to quit my job.  I KNEW that God had called ME to be the primary caregiver to my children.  Doug agreed with me, making less than 15,000 a year.  And I quit...not knowing how we would pay for a single thing.

 We were told, by more than one person, how foolish we were to give up my job just because I thought that "no one could take care of my child as well as I could".  To me, this was not a thought but a fact. 

Two days after I quit my day job, I got a call from a woman that I had never met.  She wanted to know if I could nanny her two girls.  And I could do it from my home and hers.  And I could bring my baby!
(Surely this was God saying "I love you, thanks for obeying!")

And let me tell you...there are a string of events that I KNOW have happened because of that act of obedience...Doug got a promotion soon after...we moved...we bought our first home...I started a legit business...we had another sweet baby...Doug was promoted business is WAY more than I could have ever dreamed of or imagined...and I am sure there are more blessings on the way so long as we continue to consider HIS path for us.  All because we made a decision that looked foolish to the world...but made perfect sense to the One with the plan.

So maybe this is just a journal entry for me to reflect on when I lose my way again, as I often do and that is OK.  As feels good to get this out there...otherwise I would have to go to bed again and think it over and I can move on.  Hopefully, another lesson learned and another step to being a more like who God wants me to be.

As always...your input is treasured and welcome...and ugly anonymous comments will not be read or acknowledged. :)

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