Cultural Cliches

I was recently telling my husband how surprised I have been to realize how many young Christian college women are feeling at sea when it comes to understanding what it is they are doing. What is an education for? We used to view an education as preparation for life. Now it is viewed as preparation for a career.

My husband pointed out that there are no cultural cliches to reinforce the calling of the wife and mother at home. All the cultural cliches today are the savvy, sexy career woman, married or not. And it doesn’t much matter how many sermons  women hear if they don’t have any cultural reinforcement. They need to see the value and potency of the calling of wife and mother, and they are not going to find this in films, sit-coms, or magazines. Women have been successfully driven out of their homes in our culture, creating a vast vacuum in the soul of our country.

Whenever we address the importance of women  raising their children and building their homes, we have to qualify it left and right. If we don’t, we will soon be barraged by “are you saying that women can never work outside the home” questions, and then we have to assure everyone that we know there are exceptions. But the cultural norm should be women who delight in their calling in building homes and families. No one else can do it. God says.

Our young women must be encouraged to view the biblical calling of women as a high calling indeed. And because so many women have abandoned their posts, Christian women can feel like total weirdos, having to explain themselves to strangers at the coffee shop or the grocery store on a daily basis. “Yes, these are ALL my children. And I love it!”

If young women get themselves a lucrative career, and then they marry a man who also has a lucrative career, it takes a woman of faith to drop her career outside the home in order to pursue a career of domesticity and motherhood inside the home. Most people will think she’s nuts because of one reason: money. What is she thinking? She could be making money! Why would she give up the paycheck to stay home? What a waste!

God does everything the opposite way of what we think. At the end of the day, it’s not prestige and a paycheck that rise up to call you blessed. Those things burn up. The things that last, the eternal things, have fat faces and messy hands.

Christian women must be counter-cultural and think like women of faith who take the Bible seriously and don’t mind who knows it. The flesh is weak, but God gives more faith.  Cultural cliches come and go, but God’s Word remains our standard and authority for life.

This means that Christian women must accept the fact that God has designed them for a set purpose. Eve was created because Adam needed a helper. He was no good without her. A man needs a woman to accomplish all God is calling him to do. She is his glory. She is his crown. There’s no need to feel apologetic about being a crown and a glory. What an absurd idea!

So, young women, get yourself an education. Learn all you can because you’re going to need it. You want to be one efficient, brilliant helper so this guy you married can get it done. He needs a home and he needs a family and you are the means God has appointed to bring this amazing thing about. What a delight and privilege our calling is.

Are there exceptions? Always. But there is also a norm. Don’t be afraid of embracing the norm of God’s design. It is good.

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68 thoughts on “Cultural Cliches

  1. Hi this is an area I’m really struggling with at the moment- and I’d love your perspective. I married age 36 and really thought it wouldn’t happen. While I was waiting I continued with my career as best I could in order to glorify God. I qualified as a GP (family medicine) and became a partner in a practice. Then the most wonderful Christian man of my dreams asked me to marry him and now I have a baby who is fab and such a blessing. I’m on maternity leave and I have taken a whole year off. I’ve negotiated with my partners that I can go back 1 and half day a week (which is the minimum to keep my licence to practice) and my parents will look after the baby. I’d give up completely but it’s my licence to practice that is bothering me, if I lose it then I would have to retrain at my own cost (around £10000). It seems wrong to throw away a gift that God has given me and to put our family voluntarily in a position where I couldn’t earn a good wage if needed. I know that God will provide and maybe I’m thinking wrongly about this. I know that I would feel worse if my parents weren’t able to step in. I’ve spoken to my husband and elders at my church and I’m trying to keep in perspective that I can’t serve two masters and God has given me my family as my priority so if when I go back I can’t do it then the job goes regardless.

    But if I’m wrong and I should give up medicine completely to be a full time mother-what should I counsel my youth group? Is is wrong for christian women to persue demanding vocational careers? Should we allow young women to get into debt for a career that they won’t use? In the recent past (the new rules came in this year) I would have been fine- licencing was not a problem and women could leave medicine for as long as they wanted with no retraining required (not so good for the patients!) If no Christian women become doctors or nurses or midwives as a result where does that leave those professions and patients? What if they don’t persue careers and remain unmarried? These are the big questions I have-did I do wrong getting into medicine? And what do I do with those skills now I’m here? I do believe like Dorothy L Sayers that all education is a preparation for life but it seems such a waste to leave medicine completely with no way back unless I work. Sorry for all the questions and I do believe that being a wife and mother is a high calling and I love it but I would so love your views

  2. Thank you, Nancy, for this encouragement! I wrote my letter of resignation this evening, in order that I don’t have to leave my new daughter after my maternity leave concludes. This is a timely read for me and an encouragement that I have indeed made the best choice for myself and my family.

  3. I think the “Christian College women feeling at sea” can also come from another bit of confusion, right within our own ranks. How many times have Christian “idols” in our culture (I can think of a family on TV–people are always asking if we agree with this) that say that Christian women don’t need a college education because their job will be to stay home and take care of children. My husband and I strongly disagree. While our sons could feasibly gain employment capable of sustaining a family without a college experience (electricians and plumbers and heavy equipment operators are always needed, if wires and pipes bulldozers are what make their clocks tick), our daughters may not legally be able to fulfill their calling without one. We live too far away from any good private schools to send our children to one, and so we home school. Until recently, it was illegal in our state to home school a child through high school without a Bachelor’s degree.

  4. Thank you, Nancy. This is very encouraging! As much as I love being a wife and mom I can question the importance of my role or lose vision in the midst of the constant cultural attack. Your writing is always an encouragement and source of renewed faith in God’s way!

  5. “At the end of the day, it’s not prestige and a paycheck that rise up to call you blessed.”

    Brilliant!!

  6. When my oldest daughter got to the age when people began to ask her what her career plans were, I encouraged her to answer directly, “I want to be a homemaker, like my mother.” That was not the answer people expected! She didn’t get the strokes she would have gotten if she had said she wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon, but she did get the pleasure of rendering certain people temporarily speechless!

  7. Some times I’m more sensitive to those grocery store comments than others. Today would be one of those days. I wonder if women with other careers get exclamations about how busy they must be. So I’ve chosen to spend my time raising my children to be kind, thoughtful, literate people. Why do people think that’s so miserable?

  8. Thank you, Nancy, and all of you at Femina who establish a cultural norm for us–a place for us to feel exalted in our calling, and encouraged by other Christian women who have made the same “career choice.” Thank you for your wise counsel, Godly example, and joyful encouragement. I came today for some much-needed affirmation, and as usual was not disappointed!

  9. Kristen Miller,

    I still think BEFORE your daughter’s are even married, they should have the ability to look into a career and go to school etc.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a homemaker and mother, but let’s not assume that all our daughters will end up with this role. In fact, that may be setting them up for feeling like a total failure if one day they don’t get married or have children because it didn’t work out that way. I have single friends who feel they are a nobody because they aren’t married with kids.

    As for the article, I love it. And I still think it is great for women to get an education before becoming a mom, and a stay at home mom. Let’s still encourage our daughters they are worth an education IF they desire it. And they will use it plenty in the dynamic carrer of “Mommyhood”, and other roles in the church God chooses to use them for.
    And let’s face it, we are tending to our children in the home to serve a higher calling, not to “render people speechless.”

  10. Susan-
    These girls are under a lot of cultural pressure to be career oriented. I was teaching her to be bold and not apologetic about wanting to be a wife and mother. She’s supposed to be changing the culture, and not be changed by it. This is part of her higher calling. Shocking people by politely going “off script” in one of these conversations is being a cultural leader, in a very lady-like but effective way. I agree that girls can enjoy education and work before marriage and be blessed by those experiences.

  11. Ok, sorry. And it’s true, we shouldn’t have to apologize for making it known we want to be mothers and wives when we are young. I just meant we have to be careful because in reality many women don’t get the priviledge of becoming mothers or wives. And that can be really hard for them if they don’t consider that realization, and have something else to fall back on.
    I am a SAHM, and proud of it.

  12. Susan, reading Nancy Wilson’s book Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? really helped me get a handle on this issue. God calls all of us women, married or unmarried, to be fruitful, so we can trust him that our daughters will find joy and satisfaction in being fruitful for him in whatever marital state he ordains for them.

  13. i like this so much, it’s very reflective of the “Wife of Noble Character” in the book of Proverbs. It’s also a reminder to us mothers of how the bible overcomes insignificance–our task is molding the next generation, that’s a pretty serious job.

  14. I was referred to this link by a friend, so that is why you have a guy commenting on this female blog.

    Do you really think that the Bible relegates you to the same status as first century Christian women? Has it not occurred to you that the admonitions for women were almost entirely cultural? Why is that you choose to be homemakers but you don’t wear head coverings in church or refuse to wear fine clothes or jewelry? It is really easy to pick and choose what part of the Bible one wants to follow…

    But I digress.

    My mother, who is now getting close to 50, was cheated on by my Father and were it not for the grace of God, he would have divorced her. My mom has been a stay at home wife her entire life (her electronics degree is obsolete considering she never used it) and was then faced with the prospect of having to get a job to support herself. She had not work experience worth squat and she had no marketable skills…all because she trusted her husband to make the money and take care of her.

    What you are advocating is nice for the perfect world where June Cleavers live and there is no sin. But in our fallen broken world, women cannot depend on a man and a man is often undependable. Also, even the Proverbs 31 woman made an income from selling some of her wares.

    It is good for a woman to stay home and take care of the children; it is good for a man to also stay home sometimes and take care of the children (jobs do not excuse lack of time investment). Still, it is not for anyone to decide who needs to and who doesn’t.

  15. Thank you for this thoughtful article. I work in the admissions department of a small Bible College. Our promotional materials bear the mantra “Prepare for Life”. Our goal is to prepare men and women to serve God through the local church. The women who attend our school constantly have to defend their choice to study God’s Word. The most frequently asked question is “What will you DO with your education?”
    When I talk to these women they tell me their ultimate goal marriage and motherhood; and they want the best education for that task. With that in mind, I still have to answer the woman whose husband has left her that she will benefit from a Bible education. She can use what she will learn to support herself and work for the glory of God.

  16. So true that we feel like we have to explain the reason we are at home or the reason we have children. I posted about this recently that I have a new response to the line “you have your hands full.” I know say, “Yes, they are full of blessings!”

    http://www.rubiesandrewards.com/2011/10/handful-of-blessings-and-giveaway.html

    I also fought this battle when I chose to give up my career as a Marketing Director for a bank and be a stay at home before we had children. What a blessing me being at home was for our marriage!

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  17. I agree that being a stay at home mom is a blessing and a wonderful gift. But, what about mom’s like me that work because my husband is in ministry? It’s a decision we’ve made that it’s more important that he impact teens for Christ than me get to stay at home. There is a great cliche today: SAHM and working mothers. Just because I work doesn’t mean we have tons of money and I’d rather have someone else take care of my child than I would. It is a great struggle that I have to daily surrender to God, be selfless, willing to be apart from my baby and home because I am willing to work so he can have a great ministry. No one ever talks about this side. I am constantly having to justify myself with Christian women that stay home, are prideful about it and are condescending to me because I don’t stay home. Sometimes, God’s will is for you to work as a Christian wife and mother and you have to be willing. I envy SAHM but am often hurt by their actions toward me.

  18. “Christian women must accept the fact that God has designed them for a set purpose. Eve was created because Adam needed a helper. He was no good without her. A man needs a woman to accomplish all God is calling him to do. She is his glory. She is his crown. There’s no need to feel apologetic about being a crown and a glory. ”

    No fewer than 30 minutes ago, I was sitting here muttering to myself about having to transcribe a long conversation my husband and pastor recorded, so my husband can go about his normal work and not have to stay up until 2 in the morning doing it himself. Thanks for the slap on the back of the head 😉

  19. Thank you for this post! I have just begun the stay-at-home wife/mommy adventure (we have a 6 month-old son) and this was so very encouraging.

  20. Hi,
    I am a new addict to this website and am posting quotes from you ladies all over facebook. Do you have the ability to add a “post to facebook” button?

  21. Such a great article! With 2 under 2 I’ve definitely found myself lusting after the lifestyle of the “career woman”. I’ve found that surrounding myself with like-minded moms has been a huge blessing, whether friends I know personally or through our blogs. God’s given us a difficult job, but he’s also given us everything we need to do it!

  22. My prayer for our daughter has been that the Lord would prepare her to be uniquely qualified to be her husband’s helpmate. Seeking after the best possible education for her has been a part of that equation–even to the point of the Lord answering our prayers by surprising us with a much better college education for her than we ever thought that we could afford! (Thank you, Lord, and New Saint Andrews tuition lock in program!) What kind of a a wife does a doctor, lawyer, politician, Kingdom builder need? (Or a pastor? We have absolutely no clue.) She doesn’t want to be a “career woman,” as the world defines it. What’s a gal to do? Faithfully serve in the Kingdom, using her gifts and skills, until he (or He) comes! And why not make a little money in the meantime to help fund Kingdom work?

  23. “What a delight and privilege our calling is.” Thank you! I really don’t think this truth can be emphasized enough. I wonder whether one Christian college in a hundred even pays lip service to preparing their female students for the calling of a wife and mother.

    We simply can’t assume that just because a woman is a solid Christian, is surrounded by godly examples of motherhood, and is attending a Christian college that she will automatically have her head on straight when it comes to this issue. I sure didn’t.

    Even though I had a strong Christian upbringing and was attending a small, Reformed Christian college (not NSA, by the way), I still was not thinking at all clearly about what my education would mean for me if I were to get married and have children. Education and family life seemed like disconnected pursuits, and although I should have known better, I managed to get very caught up in the narrow, career-oriented mindset encouraged by most of my college professors and peers.

    Plenty of folks will point out that we women will be in a tough situation if we plan expectantly for nothing but motherhood and then don’t get married. But few point out how much worse off we—and our families—will be if we spend all our years of education planning only for a career and then end up getting married and having kids instead. At age 21 I might have been able to pass a graduate school entrance exam with one hand tied behind my back, but I could not change a diaper. No, really, I couldn’t.

    Even when I was married and pregnant with our first baby, I still hadn’t entirely come to grips with what was going to be expected of me. Consequently, my first month home with a baby was among the most completely miserable times of my entire life. I most decidedly did not love my calling at that time. Life with a newborn seemed lonely, painful, exhausting, and unrewarding in every possible way.

    Just before I quit my job a week before having my first baby, someone at the office had commented to me that she hoped I wouldn’t let my talents “go to waste.” Of course I knew it was wrong to think that way, but “wasting my talents” sure felt like what I was doing. I had forgotten that there’s a huge difference between a waste and a sacrifice. Was Jesus “wasting his talents” or “failing to live up to His potential” by taking the form of a servant and humbling Himself to the point of death on a Roman cross? Our culture thinks that kind of sacrifice is sheer madness—all the more reason that young ladies need to hear our culture refuted on this point over and over again, and in as many ways as possible.

    Thankfully, during those first, most difficult weeks of being a stay-at-home mom, I got the biblical encouragement I needed from my husband and mother and other wiser folks in our church community. But even then, it took me a long time to get over my disappointment at what I had given up. How much better off would I have been if I had just remembered to keep the proper perspective toward my education and work all along?

    Thank you, again, for this post. God’s design is good.

  24. Thank you, Hannah G., for the follow up. I remember hearing you say something about that(the surprisingly tough few weeks of being a new mother) before I had Lynnette, and it encouraged me to work on getting my perspective straight before she came instead of after and to make sure I had a game plan for how to get through those first weeks.

  25. Susan~ you wrote “many women don’t get the priviledge of becoming mothers or wives.” I have to disagree with you. The norm (and God’s design) is for women to get married and have children, and they do! Only occasionally does a woman remain unmarried for her entire life.

  26. Thank you, Nancy. I am 59 years old and still am reminded by my 88 year old mother that I “wasted” my talents. All I did was stay at home and raise my children and help my husband succeed in his career.

  27. While I totally respect women who delight in their career choice to care for their children and homes full time, I would challenge the assumption that “God says” no one else can fulfill this role, or that every woman (or even every mother) is called to do this. That is simply not where every woman’s gifts, talents, or natural inclination lies. And even the celebrated woman of Proverbs 31 carried on commerce outside her home. I am not sure why a woman’s submission to or support of a man requires that she have no career, or why raising children in the knowledge of their God proscribes the inclusion of daycare. Surely the nursemaids of biblical times would disagree.

  28. Ah, yes… I remember one of my first visits with my college advisor during my freshman year at the “honors” college of my local university… when I informed him that I didn’t really want a career, that I really “just” wanted to be a wife and mother and had only come to college to find a husband — and he said with a frown, “How many people have you told this to?” Of course, God is so gracious, that he placed my husband (who claims he only came to college to find a wife) in that same “honors” college and here we are now, 12 years later, with 4 wonderful children. We did manage to invite the liberal English professor in whose class we met to the wedding, but he didn’t come. He did send a nice card though. :)

    In all seriousness, Pastor Wilson is SO right about the cultural cliches thing. It would really be nice to not have to swim completely against the culture, every day, all the time. Even Martha Stewart, who might at one time have been something of an inspiration to homemakers, is now obviously the same career woman as all the rest, and certainly not someone that Christian women want to emulate.

    What makes me sad is that all this preparation for a career places the expectation in young ladies’ minds that they either don’t need to be a helpmeet to the man that God gives them, or that they will fail at it.

  29. First time reading this blog and this post was apparently what I needed to read. I have a degree in biological science and work in a field directly related. My husband recently got a job that will allow me to stay home with our twin babies. I am so looking forward to it but am scared of losing my identity as a woman with an established career. I am preparing myself for the travails of getting rid of those cultural cliches and establishing a true grounded perspective of what a godly woman is.

  30. Thank you so much for this Godly wisdom and female encouragement.

    I gave up a career path to be a home maker and have never regretted this choice.

    It was the best choice for myself, my husband and our son.

    God is good and wants us to follow his path for our lives, not the path the world dictates.

  31. My wish for women is that, someday, we get to a place where we don’t feel like we have to defend or justify our choices about how we live our lives by pointing out other women doing it differently and calling them “lost” or by judging them in any other way.

  32. I completely agree with everything you (and most of the commenters) have said and think it’s great. Also, I love it when a young lady can shock the worldliness out of people by responding, “I want to be a wife and mom,” (or “I want to go raise sheep in New Zealand”) when asked the inevitable question of “what do you want to do with your life?”

    I’m also thinking, though, that I want my daughter going somewhere, and I want her future husband to interrupt her plans. For example, if my daughter becomes a talented musician, and she goes to a school to pursue that calling, I would want her to happily pursue the talents God gave her. If she is headed that way at 18 or 19, say, and someone asks her what her plans are, for her to say, “to be a musician” doesn’t seem to be a problem. The problem would arise if she doesn’t assume the place that would take when Prince Charming shows up, and wife and motherly callings become a part of her life. In many ways, the study of a particular calling is great training in discipline and hard work that ladies will use when they become wives and mothers.

    In school, I studied a subject that I thoroughly enjoyed, and dropped it all when I had kids. And as my kids get older I can see God using those talents I gained in my career days in ways I hadn’t thought possible.

    If someone asks my son what he wants to be, and he responds, “a builder!” I wouldn’t correct him and tell him that he should want to be a Christian husband and father first–I would assume that those two go together, and Lord willing, he would have the wisdom to know how to balance both callings. I hope my daughter will fight valiantly against feminism by pursuing the same wisdom that goes with that balance.

  33. To those who posted that they went to college only to find a husband…. at what point did you go to your father and explain your position to him?

    Your father, who worked hard to provide the means that gave you that opportunity in life, which you promptly squandered away?

    I have no problem at all with a woman wanting to stay at home with their children, but to waste an opportunity that God placed in front of you is self righteous and foolish.

    You sound as if you are using God as an excuse, a license to do as you please, rather than as your calling in life.

    At best, what you did was a foolish waste of money, at worst it was a blatant disregard for others, which is NOT in God’s plan for you to do. Not to mention the poor individual who’s spot in line YOU TOOK. Maybe there was someone who desperately wanted to go to college and could not because you were there instead.

    Again, I completely respect your right to live as you see fit, but as a father of two girls I would be crushed and heartbroken to discover such betrayal of my trust and devotion to their future. Yes, I would want them to be happy, but I also want them to make wise decisions and be mindful of others around them.

  34. I agree with Lily. I too, work fulltime outside my home. I would like to mention first that that does not mean I am not a FULL TIME MOM, as well. Just because you work outside the home does not lessen your role as a mother. Shortly after we were married 3 years ago, my husband lost his job. He has always had “a job” since then, however, nothing that provides benefits or a steady salary. In order to welcome children into our family, as we felt the Lord calling us to do, I work to provide benefits for the family. Without my job we simply would not make it. It is not that I work so that we can have ‘extra’ material things, or big fancy vacations. We are now expecting our third baby. I long for the day that my husband lands the ‘dream job’ and I can put in my resignation. Until then I am willing to sacrifice and put in the extra time at the end of my full workday to keep my home and family happy, content and growing in the Lord. Not to mention daily encouraging my husband whose pride is hurt by not being able to provide for his family, as the Bible indicates is one of his biggest responsibilities. It is extremely difficult to be on the receiving end of the pride and the hurtful comments of some holier-than-thou SAHMs. It would be wonderful if some bloggers would address this for the benefit of women who work outside the home. We need hope and encouragement too!

  35. It is so encouraging to see someone standing up for what God seems to desire for the home. It is all-around a blessing for all involved, and in the end, the fruit of it honors God by the sacrifice that women make to choose to do what He directed us to do for His glory. Little praise or commendation here on earth by the world for that sacrifice , but then we haven’t stood before His throne yet. Thanks so much for posting this.

  36. “God says.”

    This is a very heavy statement. It gets misused a lot.
    Your post is filled with a lot of allusions to Scripture, but is never directly quoted. I find that very alarming, since this is something you appear to have given a lot of thought to, took the time to write about, and are holding up as the model other Christian women should follow.

    If you haven’t yet, I’d suggest doing some deep digging into the “Eve as a helper” verse. Look into the Hebrew. The term is difficult to translate into English. It has deep meaning, more than helper, or even crown.

    I disagree with a lot of your opinions, but am not here to debate. I encourage you to find tangible Scriptural support for your view, and to include them in any future public writings on the subject. I’d also encourage you to look at both sides, and to realize there is not one side that is Biblical and one side that is anti-Biblical.

    I can accept that we may never see eye to eye on the role of a Christian woman in our culture. I’m not here to change your mind.

    But you made a very strong claim: “God says”. As your sister in Christ I feel compelled to request that you support that statement with Scripture. It is simply too powerful and dangerous a thing to say without direct Biblical support.

  37. I just found this blog today; I’m actually not a mother… though I would like to be, I think. My husband thinks I should quit school (I still have 4 years left for my Masters) and I’m terrified to do that. It’s not that I think there’s something wrong with the model God created. I’m just afraid to give up this path, only NOT to be gifted with children. I’d like to continue going to school until I get pregnant, then reassess. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

  38. Lily,
    I think I understand your objection, but Nancy really addressed it in the article when she said “…we will soon be barraged by “are you saying that women can never work outside the home” questions, and then we have to assure everyone that we know there are exceptions. But the cultural norm should be women who delight in their calling in building homes and families.” Yes, there are exceptions. There are women whose husbands are disabled, whose husbands are out of a job, etc… In the end, you must decide what is best for your family. And as for stay at home moms being hurtful, I am truly sorry. We women have a really tragic turn for looking down on each other, especially concerning family decisions. I think, however, that there are plenty of career moms who treat SAHMs in the same way. Sadly, those who are right about what they believe are often just as obnoxious as those who are not.

  39. Amber,
    Here’s the section you had a problem with: “But the cultural norm should be women who delight in their calling in building homes and families. No one else can do it. God says.”
    I was assuming the biblical allusions would be obvious, but here are a few Scriptures to back my statement that “God says” women are the ones who have the children and build/ manage their homes: Proverbs 14:1; Psalm 127:3-5;Psalm 128:3; Genesis 3:16,20;2 Titus 2:4-5;1 Timothy 5:9-10,14.
    Cheers,
    Nancy

  40. [soapbox]

    Might I suggest to some of the posters on this thread that before you comment on a blog for the first time you take just a few minutes to browse through the archives? Here, for instance, you will find three pages of posts in the Domesticity category, six in Marriage, a dozen in Mothering, and a Welcome page that would help you to flesh out your understanding of who Nancy is and where she is coming from. You might just learn that that as a mother, grandmother, pastor’s wife of 30+ years, conference speaker, and author of several books and many articles for women of all stations in life, she knows a thing or two and has thought through these issues…perhaps even more thoroughly than you have. I know it might take a few moments to peruse through some of those posts, but it’d show a modicum of Christian charity and thoughtful respect. The quick-to-speak, driveby accusations and assumptions, on the other hand, display impatience, immaturity, insecurity, and unkindness.

    [/soapbox]

  41. Valerie,
    Quite the contrary! You are always welcome to “soapbox” and I always appreciate (and invite) your comments!
    Thanks for jumping in:)
    Nancy

  42. Okay.
    “But the cultural norm should be women who delight in their calling in building homes and families.”
    I agree with it. As in, a woman with a family should delight in the building up & caring of that family. As should a man with a family. For man & woman alike, we should not be swayed by the world telling us our talents are “wasted” on the least of these. We should not be driven by the paycheck, man or woman.
    I am concerned over ” No one else can do it. God says.” Because #1, it is not safe to assume that everyone knows what passages you have on mind. And #2, now knowing the passages, they still don’t address the “no one else can do it”
    I took note of your soapbox Valerie, & I am not a “fly byer” 😉
    I know that Femina writers do not believe that all childcare & training must be done by the mother (or even parents). You all promote Christian school. Where does God draw the line of when someone else can do “it”? If the mother is the only one, according to God, is any babysitting OK? Yikes.

  43. I just wanted to say that, while I agree that it is the norm for Christian women to get married, there are still those who have to wait a long time, and those who have the pressure of most of their (young) peers already being married with children, who have to learn what it means to wait patiently. Even though by the world’s standards (which we are challenging here) I am still young at 25, I struggle with feeling left out because all but one or two of the other girls in my church are married.

    I also want to say that my situation is a great way to learn contentment, and to seek joy and fulfillment in the place God has put me for the time being. I am enthusiastically in support of women bettering themselves by education in whatever form that takes. I’ve earned a B.A., but that’s only the start of what you can do–there are many other opportunities, both formal and informal, to continue learning skills that God will use.

    But I have seen a few instances (already in my short life) where a job, a career, or just the freedom to earn one’s own living, has made it difficult for even a young woman to let go and be a mother. I even feel it myself having moved from what was becoming a career to look for entry-level work again. It somehow feels less fulfilling for the mommy to be at home, to have a mommy body, and to take care of a baby, than to be in the work force outside the home. Since, being single, I don’t really have any choice but to have a job, is there some way for me to avoid this reaction if/when I marry, and leave my job? How can I keep the mindset that in the long run I will stop earning money? Does my question make sense?

  44. Erin, you’re asking, not blasting. That’s the right way to do it! :-)

    It seems to me that Nancy’s point is that no one but a mother can be a mother. She may have helpers — babysitters, teachers, etc. — but they are, in the immortal words of the Dinosaurs baby, “Not the mama!”

    Here’s a for-instance: My 82-year-old mom is practically raising one of my young cousins (her great-grand-nephew). He comes to her house every day after school, she makes sure his homework is done, she volunteers with his class, she sets rules and consequences for him, she feeds him many meals a week. But she is not his mother. Sadly, his mother doesn’t do half so good a job in her role. She’s chaotic, inconsistent, careless, a poor disciplinarian, etc. And you can see the effects in his life: it has damaged him.
    My mom’s role, while it a tremendous mitigating grace in his life, can’t make up for the fact that his mother does such a lousy job of loving him. You can see his craving for it; his behavior shows his reaction to her neglect.

    Only a mother can be a mother (and, yes, adopted mothers are included), and how she plays that role will either bless or curse her child.

  45. Thanks, Valerie. I taught elementary school for 4 years–I know exactly what you’re talking about.

    I guess my question was more along the lines of, since I am single and must work outside the home, how can I keep from feeling like I’ve lost something, when I leave my outside job to become a mom? Is that blow inevitable for someone who doesn’t get married at 18 or 20? Is it a problem with my mindset and how can I avoid it?

  46. Erin H. (henceforth to be known as The Right Erin 😉 ),

    I don’t think your comment had been posted before I wrote mine, so sorry for the confusion!

    [tongue in cheek] Just stay single till your 30s or 40s, then you’ll be so weary of the workplace that you’ll have absolutely no regrets about leaving it behind. [/tongue in cheek]

    I suspect there’s not a life change in the world that doesn’t come with some sense of loss. I’ve never been through that one in particular, but it’s probably to be handled in much the same way as other losses: live through it as a living sacrifice to God; be content; focus more on gratitude for what you have than regret for what you don’t.

    I hope you find out before too long, and then you can tell us!

  47. I’m a, Erin A. And thanks Valerie. I agree with you. A child will feel the loss of their mother, even if they are blessed with a stand in mother, as your mom is being. It is not the same.
    Erin H. I do think that transitions of most kinds are hard. And, we always need to re-evaluate where are treasures lie & from what our value is derived. (of course, our value should be in Jesus, whatever our current life stage is.) I don’t think that avoiding certain jobs or making only a certain amount of money really makes a difference. Our hearts can be bitter either way, if we take our eyes of Jesus.

  48. Hmmm. The church circles I’ve been in seem to lean more to an anti-intellectualism when it comes to women.

    Here’s the thing, I feel like more of a weirdo in my church. I want very much to be a wife and a mother and a homemaker. But those roles are relational, they don’t depend entirely on me. So in a Christian community that emphasizes marriage and motherhood, THAT’s where I feel like the weirdo! The rest of the world seems much more understanding of my current status of post-college single working girl. My church is impatient with my singleness–and my parents have taught me all my life that marriage must not be rushed.

  49. Hear ya, Heather! (Hi, by the way.) I’m concerned for the young teen-age girls in my church who’ve only heard “Get married, get married,” all their lives, and rarely, “Sometimes you have to be single for a few years and work. Better be prepared.” What can we girls, as the relational responders, do to pursue marriage other than be busy in the kingdom and make ourselves desirable to good men?

    It works both ways: I’m looking at getting pressure from my boss for not working Sundays, and I’ve gotten pressure at church for being single. I guess we just have to learn to take it graciously from wherever it comes. (Prov. 11:16)

  50. Heather and The Right Erin — Have y’all read Nancy’s book Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? and Other Helpful Comments? You might find it helpful in your situations. Also, are you feeling just a sense of pressure coming from the church culture, or are people regularly verbally pressuring you? If the latter, a) think the best of their intentions, and b) consider asking for help dealing with their comments. Perhaps a parent or a pastor could intervene and tell the well-meaning pressurers to lay off. Finally, take it as a compliment that they think you should get married because you’d make a great wife. Trust me, it’s far worse having folks tell you that you shouldn’t get married because you’d make a poor one.

  51. Nancy has done a great job in the past by emphasizing that you will be a good Christian wife if you are a good Christian woman. All Christian women are called to work hard, love God, be faithful, and embrace Biblical femininity; which includes a love of domesticity and fruitfulness. And all of these things can be done with or without a husband and children. That teaching was food for my soul when I was single (and having so many friends get married I went to about 5 showers a week)!

  52. This is for Emma (about whether she should keep working part-time – 1/2 day a week to keep her medical license):

    Doesn’t look like anyone replied to your comment, surprisingly. Sometimes it seems like it’s only a toss up between SAHM vs. full-time working. I truly believe Christian woman can work outside the home part-time, as long as the child care does not differ from your own Christian principles.
    I live in the Netherlands (having grown up in Canada), and am pleasantly surprised to see there are very few full-time moms, both in the Christian and secular society. Sometimes I wonder if the whole SAHM discussions are a reaction to a culture in which mothers mainly work outside the home full-time which has resulted in gorgeous, museum-like houses lacking any sort of warmth of a true home (a huge generalisation I know!) On the other hand, almost all mothers here work part-time, between 1-3 days a week.
    I’m on maternity and parental leave now (have 2 precious children) and intend to return to my job as a teacher in May (1 1/2 days). Grandma will be looking after my children. Is this contrary to what the Bible teaches – women should be keepers of the home? No, since I believe that that is their primary calling, but not their sole calling. If God has seen fit to give us talents and opportunities to work outside the home (part-time) while providing loving child-care in our absence, I cannot see how this is contrary to any Biblical principle. The Proverbs 31 woman certainly didn’t stay home full-time!
    Emma – ENJOY your 1/2 day outside of the home. It will refresh you and you will gain new energy for the days you do stay at home. And Grandma will probably love the time spent with her grandchild. I know…I’ve been there!

  53. You know I used to really thing that this “what were you thinking” attitude was how everyone would view me when my husband and I have kids (we are waiting till he has kids so I can stay at home) and I leave the workforce. I mean that is the idea that seems to be everywhere in our culture…. however, when I actually TALK to people that is not at all the response I get. Generally, people are actually jealous. I went to a liberal college for my undergrad and graduate work. And yes I got a few people who would look at me like I was crazy when I would say “I am only working till I have kids.” Why spend all that money on education if I don’t plan to use it? But most people would say “oh that’s neat, it would be great to stay home with the kids” or “i wish we would of been able to do that.” Even my sister wishes she could stay at home with the kids, and her family has way different views on raising children than we do (they are not religious and very liberal… we are religious and pretty conservative). I am finding that people would rather stay at home…. whether its to be able to spend time raising their children or just because they don’t want to work, I don’t really know. However… many people just aren’t willing to make the sacrifices it takes to be a one-income family. They like their “toys.” When you have one income, you don’t have as much money (most times) so you might not have the nicest and greatest things… To us, the sacrifice is easily worth it. To be able to get to spend that extra time with our children is so much more desirable and important to us. Me staying home was something we talked about before we were married…. We both have student loans like crazy and my husband got seriously ill a few years before I knew him, so he has medical bills too. We just set our budget so we can work on paying these off very aggressively, so that when I do stay home it won’t be such a stress on our income. We have zero credit cards too… we saved and paid cash for our new car too… These are just things you need to be willing to do if you base your budget on 1 income, so that you don’t have the financial stress of debt and bills and can really be comfortable with your decision.

  54. I love this. I’m in university and I feel at sea when it comes to understanding what it is I am doing everyday. It’s hard and very confusing, and this is a great encouragement. Thank you!

  55. “If young women get themselves a lucrative career, and then they marry a man who also has a lucrative career, it takes a woman of faith to drop her career outside the home in order to pursue a career of domesticity and motherhood inside the home. Most people will think she’s nuts because of one reason: money. What is she thinking? She could be making money! Why would she give up the paycheck to stay home? What a waste!”

    It’s not always about money! I find quite a lot of joy and satisfaction in my job.

    Yes, being wife and mother is a good thing. But it’s not for everyone.

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