Every small group has the Devil's Advocate. Last night I decided to play that role in a small little online study that I joined....you know, like several thousand small.
There's a book that I've been reading through that is doing AMAZING things in my heart and mind. It is EXACTLY the book I needed to read in where my life is at these days. It's called Restless, by Jennie Allen. Last night they launched a live online book study. To take part in the study, you just watch online, and you can tweet or send questions/thoughts via Facebook or Twitter. (hashtag restlessproject)
The point in this little post of mine today is due to a tweet that I made during the study. I was a little nervous when I posted it, knowing it would broadcast to a world of people who were not a part of the live study, and could easily be taken out of context. Here was the tweet:
Caution: If God is asking you for now to be "JUST" a wife and a mom, that's a huge calling. Don't think otherwise! #restlessproject
Well, I was right. It sparked a little fire as I suspected. Very little...but because I love ALL my Mom friends, I wanted to just put a few things on the table. And I'm going to throw this out there RIGHT NOW..... this is NOT a post about Working Moms vs. Stay At Home Moms. I urge all women to read to the end.
First, I want you to know the context behind why I posted what I did was because, as I said - I chose to play Devil's Advocate (but with good reason. Hang tight.). The live call was very much, in my opinion, stressing BIGGER dreams, and moving in our callings and our dreams even if it means we may have to stop being home with our children (if that's what we've chosen to do). The book itself processes through the emotions I, and many other women have surrounding such statements, but I was nervous for it to be just "out there" like that on Twitter with no other context. I started to shrivel up a bit at the idea of dreaming "bigger". Because for many of us, maybe instead of dreaming bigger, we need to start viewing what we are doing as bigger. And as for those specifically who have chosen to stay home with their children, buying into the lie that our life is worthless is an easy thing to do. There isn't much fame or glory in "JUST" being a wife an a mom, and can often times feel like we are dying a slow death more than living out a "calling".
Okay, so all of that said - I realize that my need for balance last night comes partly from my own insecurities. I won't lie. I've spent the last 14 years of my life feeling .... well .... worthless. I've had victory some days in drowning out such a lie, but it's probably safe to say that I sit in it more than fight it. I NEVER want a young mom to begin her career/calling as a wife and mom with such passion and conviction that she KNOWS she is doing what God has asked of her, only to be suffocated rather quickly by the monotony of it all. I don't want this because I know how awful it feels. So while I was so longing for this balanced perspective last night, it was my own thing. The book, Restless, is not written for people who are confidently living their callings. So the author has no reason to reach a balance. (Yet she really does do an amazing job in her book with it!) The book is written for those longing for purpose and change.
Fast forward a bit to a totally different topic that comes up a lot in this book - Comparison. Jennie Allen is quick to call out our sin of comparison. The comparison HAS TO STOP. All it does is either keep us from moving forward in our dreams, or cause others to feel lesser for having an appeared "smaller" dream.
Let's wrap this around to the working mom/stay at home mom issue. (Yes, I'm going to call it an issue. Because church??? We've turned it into an issue. I've never once heard it preached in church that women should stay home with their children. Yet as moms, we put up our bristles and feel the need to guard against attack ...but who is attacking??) Nowhere in the Bible have I found that women have to stay home with their children. We are told in Titus 2:5 to be "workers at home". I have seen lots of SAHM's who are NOT workers at home. I have seen lots of women who have a career outside of the home "work at home" in a way that puts me to shame. But what I mostly see is a comparison and a guilt that we have put on ourselves that divide women in either category. It.Has.To.Stop.
The heart of that matter is not what you do with your days. As with anything, it is WHY. Jennie Allen talks much in her book about checking your motives. So as a SAHM or a Working Mom, we SHOULD be checking our motives. If we choose to stay home or work a job all the while being driven out of fear, discontentment, guilt, selfishness, or identity issues - then we are sinning. In that, we may or may not need to redirect how we spend our days and seek what God has for us rather than what we have for us. To pull from the book, "We often desperately chase knowledge of "God's will for me" at the sacrifice of God's will." We cannot hide behind what our job is or isn't. We HAVE to lay it all before Jesus and ask HIM to be what guides our days.
Maybe God has you as a CEO of a company right now, maybe he has you as an amazing author or speaker, maybe he has you as a Doctor or a Lawyer. Or maybe he has you as JUST a wife and a mom. Why we throw the word "just" in there when it comes to being a wife and a mom and no other career on the previous list is not really helping. There is no "just" in any of our callings. If you are "just" a janitor, or "just" a Barista, or "just" a Sales Clerk - if we are living what God has asked us to live, then there should be joy and peace, not discontentment and struggle and a longing for BIGGER (which we translate as better in our comparison mindset).
Comparison, calling, dreams, passion, career, identity, purpose - these are all very loaded words that come with a lot of weight and angst for many of us. So find some friends and prayerfully dive into whatever God is asking of you. And if what he is asking is contentment for today - thank him and do whatever you are doing well. If he is asking you to come out from what is comfortable or known to you - thank him and run hard after what He has next for you. But let's just be careful to not put OUR callings on those women around us (unless you are a Hit Man, then I'm gonna go ahead and tell you that you are way off track). And lastly, as Jennie Allen is also such a fan of - let's CHEER EACH OTHER ON! Enough of the comparing and feelings of worthlessness and fear. I want to specifically direct that word towards the moms. Working out of the home or not ..... let us CHEER EACH OTHER ON toward a life submitted to Christ and HIS purpose for us. No guilt, no shame - only full on abandonment of self that we may replace with Jesus.