Hello, readers! Today, I am excited to bring back Cultivating Community with a guest post from my friend and fellow new Proverbs 31 Ministries writer, Laura Bailey.
Laura writes regularly on her blog, which you can visit HERE. Today’s post is a great one for all the mamas out there, especially those of us who stay home with our kiddos. Moving from the working world to the stay-at-home mama world can be a jolting transition. Below, Laura writes with brutal honesty and transparency about her struggle to find her true identity and calling in Jesus–and I think many of you will relate!
I hope these words encourage and strengthen you today, dear one. He is faithful!
Your Turn: What Is It That You Do?
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“Now, what do you do, Laura?” A simple but loaded question, at least for me. Over the past two years, I’ve narrated a response to this in my head countless times. So why could I not get the words out, “I am a stay-at-home Mom.”
As we passed bread around the table at a friend’s wedding reception, my husband and I struck up conversations with six total strangers. The opening lines went like this: “How do you know the couple? How long have you been married? Kids?” Next came the question I most dreaded: “What do you ‘do’?”
Answering that last question made my heart race and my palms sweat. Suddenly, I felt sick. Yes, this seems a bit dramatic, but for me, it is no exaggeration.
Three years ago I left a career to stay at home to be with my girls. Overall, family and friends supported my decision, but some were incredulous, especially my colleagues. Why would I quit a successful, lucrative job to … raise kids?
True. Absolutely. This path smacked directly in the face of my original life-plan. In my book, healthy adults who stayed at home all day, every day, were either unintelligent (lame) or unmotivated (lazy) or unemployable (loosers). Obviously, they lacked other career options. I’m now ashamed to admit that I looked down my nose at women, mothers included, who did not work outside the home. Why? Because I grossly underestimated their value to their families and to the kingdom of God.
The marks by which I measured success were a little off. Okay, maybe a lot.
Back to the reception . . . When it came my turn to tell everyone at the table what I “did,” the emotional struggle within me was something fierce. The only other time I have this much inner conflict is when I am fighting the desire to eat that piece of delicious looking cake, but let’s be honest — this is not the same. Not at all. Eat the cake.
“Now days I stay home with my girls, BUT (here it comes), I used to be . . . , AND I also did . . .” Five minutes later, after the point people were no longer listening, I finished waxing eloquent about my past achievements in the workplace, glowing with self-adoration.
Hmm . . . Why did I feel it necessary to justify my current role as a full-time mother and then make sure they knew what I “did’ before to these people? Strangers, no less.
Easily answered. My identity and self-esteem were tied primarily to my career. I was not trying to convince themthat my current job was important. No, it was another attempt to convince myself. Coping with my new position and title, “full-time mom and housewife” proved more difficult than I ever expected.
Well, as providence would have it, stepping back from my career actually strengthened my marriage, my friendships and my relationships with my children. Also, during this transition God revealed to me a host of deep rooted issues that needed to be sorted out. Namely, the SOURCE of my identity and self-worth, my pride and my joy. Pretty much in that order.
You see, for years the title after my signature, not the inscription God penned by name, defined me and my self-worth.
Don’t misunderstand. Choosing to work and have a career outside the home is not wrong. The problem is putting our careers on a pedestal and finding our worth in the positions we hold up there. Rather akin to idolatry, really, which God clearly detests and repeatedly warns His children to forsake.
Knowing is half the battle, but I think we often know. We just chose to ignore.
I had to literally remove myself from the “noise” for God to show me that my value system was severely flawed—nothing compounds the struggle to “self actualize” like being a mother to small children. No check list is ever complete; there is always something to clean and a chore to finish. Your toddler is more likely to rinse her plate and put it in the dishwasher than your feeling great about yourself because of all you’ve accomplished on any given day.
The Lord used the new role of stay-at-home mom and wife to change the trajectory of my life. He opened my heart and eyes to a worldview (His), that I would have never accepted had I not taken that step. Bearing children was His way to slow me down and get my attention. What I deemed a temporary break in my career actually altered my life’s calling and work.
A loving and merciful Heavenly Father has brought me a long way from that distraught woman I wrote about earlier. Nevertheless, it is foolish to believe myself totally free from this battle. I sought Christian counsel to bring to light my identity struggles and am still unpacking deep rooted issues that have entangled themselves in my heart.
God is all-powerful and can transform our minds and hearts so we delight in our relationship with Him above all else. But, we also have an Enemy who constantly works to steal our hearts and minds away from things above and and bring them down to things below or “of this world.”
In other words, when we shrug off our spouse’s words as mere jealousy or tell ourselves that “things will improve when . . .,” we succumb to more and more lies the Old Serpent crafts to distract us from our Godly calling. Only abiding in the Lord through prayer, Scripture, and Christian fellowship can we stay focused on Him and experience peace and joy from “being” in Christ.
Who determines your self-worth? What defines you? In other words, WHO OR WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?
It is not until we confess that it isn’t Christ but in man’s making, perhaps our own making, like my career, that the Lord begins changing us. Transformation does not happen overnight. It is an on-going, sometimes painful process that the Bible calls sanctification, the mark of being a true Believer. You may have to relinquish something you really love. You may have to surrender that idol to God. I do. Everyday.
I grasp only an inkling of what my Savior sacrificed by dying on the cross for my sins and giving me eternal life, but that’s enough to embolden me to tell people unashamedly (“proclaim”), “I’m a full-time home and princess maker.” Yes, most importantly, a princess maker. Because, WHO AM I? Well, the Bible says I’m Royalty. A child of God, a daughter of the King, and by God’s grace, my three daughters will be too, and there is no greater calling than that.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:16-17