Here is a lovely virtue that women are designed for. It isn’t in found in a list of virtues like some of the others we have discussed, but women are charged to be domestic, to be capable homemakers.
Domestic means simply, home-loving; enjoying household affairs; a devotion to home and family life.
Domesticity encompasses everything that has to do with managing a home.Women need to be trained to be domestic, just like they might be trained for any other job. Though women are designed for this, it does not follow that we know everything instinctively. It is a calling, not a hobby. The older women are to teach the younger women to be homemakers (Titus 2:4). That word maker is an important one. God is our Maker and He has given us the great privilege of making things in imitation of Him, whether it is a poem or a home. Women are given a glorious responsibility in homemaking.
Homekeeping refers to the nuts and bolts of managing a home, and homemaking has more to do with the intangibles; but both are necessary to build God-fearing, trinitarian homes.
Women are called to manage their homes (1 Tim. 5:14) ; this pleases God and keeps the adversary from speaking reproachfully. Women who make homes keep God’s word from being blasphemed (Titus 2:4). The way I understand this is that a home that is well managed is a positive glory; a home in shambles is a poor testimony. But this is not to lay a guilt trip on women; rather, it should inspire us to view our seemingly mundane tasks as a truly worthy calling that God uses to transform the world. We often think of homekeeping as drudgery. But God says it silences our enemies. That is something potent. God always does things backwards from what we think. This requires wisdom.
“The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1).
“Through wisdom a house is built and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3-4).
Wisdom and knowledge are not things you can order from Pottery Barn. Consider wisdom when you decorate, make purchases, iron shirts, organize the closet, stock the pantry, clean the fridge, plan the menu, plant the petunias, hang the guest towels. Women are given dominion over a vast amount of territory in their homes. Our homes are to be an oasis to our families, a center of operations to refuel and send out our husbands, a refuge for our children, a delight to our own souls. But sadly,Â many women squander their opportunites and abandon their homes for something they think might be more fulfilling. But whenever we run away from what God has given us to do in order to pursue something we think we may like better, we give the enemy opportunity to speak reproachfully and we miss God’s blessing on our lives.
The woman described in Proverbs 31 (vs. 27) “watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Many things can distract us from our duties. It could be a “ministry” somewhere outside the home. It could be getting together with the girls for coffee. It could be working out at the gym. None of these things is bad in itself, but each can be a cover for idleness.
The woman in Proverbs 31 is meant to be an inspiration for us. She is virtuous. If you read through the description, you’ll see she has a very broad job description: She seeks, works willingly, does good, brings food, rises, provides, considers, plants, girds, strengthens, perceives, stretches, extends, reaches out, is not afraid, makes, sells, supplies, rejoices, opens, watches, and fears the Lord. She is prepared. She is wise. She knows what her household needs.
G.K. Chesterton in one of the essays in Brave New Family, says that a homemaker can be good at many things, while a “professional” may be an expert in one thing. Women, he says, have so much more scope at home than they do in a “career” outside the home where they must focus on only one skill.
The unmarried woman has the opportunity to be domestic whether she is living at home with her parents or has her own home. She most likely has to work outside the home to provide for herself (unless she is independently wealthy), but she can still make her home her central calling. Women are to be home-centered, even if they are not in it all the time.
Mothers need to be preparing their daughters to be excited about homemaking. Many things are required of a homemaker and many skills are needed. Our culture does not give the homemaker the honor she deserves. But God does.
9 thoughts on “Home-Loving”
I’ve wondered over the past 15 years or so of marriage why I struggle so much as a “homemaker.” Part of it, I’ve discovered, begun to own, and been praying about, is that I don’t want to do this stuff, that my dark heart has been saying, “No way! I want to do what I want to do!” (Then I sing to myself, “Lord, help me to hoooold out / Until my chaaange comes.” Or something like that.)
The other thing I’ve discovered is that I’ve been beating myself up for not knowing how to do home-based activities and I’ve been wearing myself out doing them inefficiently, incorrectly, unskillfully. I realized a few years ago that although I may have the ability to do these things, I don’t have the skill to do them because I have never been properly trained. This isn’t a criticism of my mother, though, just a realization that I’ve never sought out a home-based mentor (because it’s never occurred to me) and no one’s ever offered themselves up for the position (because I’ve never advertised?).
So now I find myself in the position of being a mother of 4 children and being of an age at which I’m closer to the “older women” than the “younger women.” In fact, my oldest daughter is very interested in learning homemaking skills such as cooking and sewing, laundry and home organization.
So, through God’s strength (because I have none of my own!) I am learning to do and teach at the same time. And develop the right heart attitude to go along with it. More mercy!
(This is partly why I am enjoying your site, admonishment that is encouraging, not discouraging.)
I so need this sort of ongoing encouragement in this area. I’ve started a collection of quotes on domesticity and diligence to keep encouraging thoughts like this in an easily accessible place!
Nancy, as always, thank you for your encouragment and wisdom!! I SO need this!
Valerie, thanks for those links! I especially liked the one about the monotony reminding us of how God forgives us over and over and over and over… I often have profound thoughts like that while pulling weeds, but my heart turns sour over vacuuming! This is so good!
Mmmm, I love to vacuum. It’s so easy and to my mind it makes such a difference in a room. Dishes….the title of my blog pretty much says it all. Don’t like ’em!
Thanks for the encouragement. Like Renae I wasn’t trained to like homemaking but rather the opposite. With a patient husband and a very dear friend (his mom) and a lot of help from the Lord I’m slowly getting things together.
Oh, I love a room once it’s vacuumed, it’s the doing it part that gets me! Heavy vacuums, and the ever changing sport of how to get it done with toddlers… One cries, the other chases, and the other tries to eat the cord! It’s an olympic sport around here–or ought to be–and I’m still trying to learn how to enjoy it. 🙂
All of my married girlfriends and I struggle with this. We spent the first 20 years of our lives being prepared for careers, with the assumption that the “housewife and mommy” stuff would just kick in instinctively when the time came. Guess what? I’m chafing and bucking under this yoke, not used to it at all. By the way, I went to medical school, finished that just fine. It’s these dirty dishes I can’t handle….where do they keep coming from??
My mom is an unbelievable homemaker, but I wish she had taught me. She wanted me to have “opportunities.” I believe she was deceived by our culture’s disrespect for women and their work, made to feel that there was something better out there for her daughters than the drudgery and anonymity of “just a housewife.” The one benefit for me is that this really feels like a choice that I’ve made, and I don’t think it always felt that way to the women of my mom’s generation. Thanks, Nancy, for your hard work on this blog. I’m beginning to think of my housework as ministry, but I have a thick skull, and it’s taking awhile to really convince myself.
I, like several of you, didn’t have great opportunities to learn the domestic arts growing up, though my mother taught me what she knew (which wasn’t much, having grown up in relative poverty in rural East Tennessee). I found the idea of making and keeping a home absolutely daunting. Thankfully, when my husband and I got married, an older lady in our church gave me a wonderful book called _Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House_ by Cheryl Mendelson. She is a philosopher-cum-homemaker, who wrote this book after struggling for some time with the same things discussed here. If you (like me) feel unequipped for the many tasks for keeping a home, this book is an excellent resource. The author includes an introduction, or a chapter or two (I can’t remember exactly) explaining how she came to embrace homemaking and keeping house, and why it is important. She doesn’t approach it from a Christian standpoint, but much of what she says jives with our worldview.
Mrs. Mendelson covers everything — and I do mean everything — one could want in terms of “how to’s,” but without being insistent that there is only one “right” way to do things. Setting a table, folding sheets (I must say, when I got married I had NO idea how one person could fold a queen-size fitted sheet by herself!), tricky stain-removal, how long different things keep in your pantry, legalese in home buying/renting, making a will, etc. I’ve never had a question that her book hasn’t been able to answer. It is an absolute treasure trove of information.
The hardcover edition is out of print, but you can find it on used book websites like http://www.alibris.com. The paperback is probably available at most of the big chain booksellers. I’m a big fan of the hardcover — mine is starting to get a tad worn after just 4 years of marriage, so I can’t imagine what it would look like had I gotten the paperback!
I hope this kind of blatant advertising isn’t forbidden here. I just think this book is too good to pass up!
Fortunately, the hardcover IS in print. Here’s a link:
I agree. It’s a wonderful book.
This is just the kick in the hiney I needed. My idleness is now internet blogging. I have half my home in shambles, the other half looking okay. I have a very displeased husband and a 6 month old baby girl watching my every move. I wasn’t raised to be neat/clean. We had someone always picking up after us. Alternately, my husband’s mother is a clean freak, you can eat off her floors and open any closet.
Thanks for the motivation. I am going to read this post every day for the next month.