A handful of years ago, I bumped into the grandmother of a girlfriend at the optometrist office. It had been some time since I’d seen my friend – her granddaughter – and just as long as I’d last spoken or written to her. Life got busy for me; I had a full-time job and was going to school (albeit, very much part-time). There just wasn’t time to devote to letter-writing and friendship-maintaining, especially with friends who weren’t on the same page in life as me.
You see, this friend and I had once agreed on a few things, but very important things, at least in her book. As young teens, we thought it was a better, more godly thing for unmarried adult daughters to be stay-at-home daughters until married. Live at home. Serve their families. Honor their parents. Obey their fathers’ wishes. Stay in the hierarchy of patriarchy. This meant working outside the home was far less than ideal because by working outside the home, you were under the authority of someone who was not your father or husband.
You’ll notice the key word in the first sentence in the above paragraph. I *had* agreed with her on all this as a teenager, but when I bumped into her grandmother that day, I no longer did – as clearly evidenced by my full-time job at a local business and studies online through a local community college. I’m sure her grandmother noticed this as we chatted and got caught up on family news while sitting in the waiting room. I’m sure she must have said something to her daughter or granddaughter later, whether meant negatively or positively on her part, I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know what her opinion on women’s roles within and without the home were.
In any case, I highly doubt it was a coincidence that a few weeks later I received a parcel in the mail from this friend. No note, no letter, but there was a hard-cover copy of a book. A book I’d already read and was familiar with, having grown up in the conservative Christian home-school movement.
So Much More by Anna-Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.
It’s probably one of Vision Forum’s best sellers and it’s earned itself a spot on my ‘disagree-with-but-keep-for-reference-only’ shelf, for many reasons. I’m not going to go into them today, but this excellent blog post explains most of the problems I have with it.
And so, the idea that when a woman works for someone else – whether male or female, Christian or non – outside of her family home is a sin, well, it’s so familiar to me, it doesn’t shock me like it would the average person. Even still, it makes me shake my head today because it is so ridiculous. I can’t believe that I drank that one as a teenager and thought it was Biblically accurate – and yet I can. I wish I hadn’t because even today I find myself sorting through ideas and thoughts that I’d discarded years ago.
Today, I’m married and working outside the home. My husband has no problem with it. I have no problem with it. The money I’m earning today is helping provide for us as we build our future home. Basically, by working outside the home, I’m being exactly what most Christians think wives should be: a help-meet. We’re a team, my husband and I. We have a combined end goal in sight: establishing our own family in our own home. A house that my husband is building. I’m not able to help out with the physical work at the moment, but I *am* able to help by earning a paycheck. I have to remind myself of this occasionally because some days I find it hard to fight the thoughts that were normal to me as a teenager.
As my co-workers and I struggle through a stressful transition in our department due to new management, I’ve found it hard to deal with the stress without wondering, “Why am I doing this to myself?” I found myself comparing my stress to the stress of many young mothers I know and feeling as though the stage of life I’m in is worthless compared to the stage of life that they are in. They’re moms; they are raising children, they are going through a stressful period of life that is worth it because children are always worth it.
Me? I’m stressed because of 12 hour work days that require loads of collection phone calls on top of my regular work.
So not as important as what my friends are doing right now in the mothering stage of life. Or is it? Isn’t every moment worth it? Isn’t every moment I work so that my husband doesn’t have to stress as much about working full-time, building the house and supporting me worth it? Is it not worth it that I’m doing the best I can right now for our family, for our situation in life right now?
What I’m doing right now is important because it’s where I’m meant to be right now. I don’t care what the Botkin sisters say. I don’t care what my old friend probably thinks – that I’m bordering on ungodly with my attitude and actions – because she doesn’t know what God’s will is for me today or tomorrow.
Today? I’m a working wife. And it is worth it because that’s what God’s called me to be right now. And that’s enough.