Updated: Mar 10
Recently, I had a coffee date with a friend who happens to be a decade and a half younger than me. We sat catching up on life, school, work, kids, our marriages, and all of the fun stuff in between. At some point, the conversation turned to vocation. My friend suddenly asked, “How do you respond to new people you meet when they ask What do you do? when you ‘do nothing’ but stay home to run your family and raise your kids?” My first reaction was to get defensive and respond, “Well as a stay-at-home mom, I’d hardly say I do nothing!”
WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?
In my head, I ran through the endless loads of laundry I’ve washed, dried, and almost folded. The countless dishes I managed to pack into the dishwasher (before forgetting to run it) the night before. The billions of socks, underwear, toys, cups, trash, and towels I’ve picked up only to have to do it again tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that. For a minute, I heard the enemy whisper all of the “nothing” I actually do, and I felt the same fear I heard in my friend’s voice. This young woman was trying to navigate our secular world’s expectations of “empowering women” to be full-time moms while juggling a full-time career just so that, when the question comes up, we can respond with something other than, “I clean vomit and crap all day for free.”
Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog on the Role of Women in Ministry Leadership, but for the past fifteen years, I’ve been primarily a stay-at-home mom first and foremost, only re-entering the work field part-time over the last few years. When my oldest was born, my husband and I decided it was best if one of us stayed home. So I chose to give up my career to raise our children. Somehow, even saying I gave up my career implies I made a sacrifice. I didn’t. The decision came very easily to me. I grew up in a home where Mom was always there after school. In my home now, it is my husband who sacrifices many hours away from our family so that we, both he and I, can give our children the security and comfort of having a parent at home. I know this is not a choice all families are able to financially make, especially in our society today.
Today’s culture makes women feel like they should do it all: raise a family and sustain a
thriving career—and they don’t even need a man to do it! The modern Super Woman holds a toddler on one hip and grips a briefcase in the other hand. She’s craftier than a Hobby Lobby employee, more successful than her childless colleagues, and able to leap over tall piles of laundry in a single bound. Plus, she can do it all without breaking a nail! Seriously, where is this woman? I must have missed this lesson in my high-school home economics class!
Today’s culture has lied to our young women (or all women really), telling them their identities lie in what you do rather than in Whose you are. Now I know many of our female blog readers are currently bi-vocational. They are full-time mothers and work in ministry either full or part-time. So I’m already preaching to the choir here, but this is something I feel deserves discussion, especially for young women about to enter their season of raising children and navigating their calling.
WHAT IS A CALLING?
Merriam-Webster defines calling as…
1: a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
2: the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
3: the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat
Yikes! We can just skip number three for now!
Could you be called to stay home to raise your children and run your family? Absolutely. Can this calling be just as strong as someone called into ministry? Absolutely! Martin Luther had strong views on the calling of non-clergy. He felt that all of the work we do in our everyday life, from working as a cashier at the grocery store or a waste collector to even wiping a child’s bottom, was essentially a call to carry out Jesus’s greatest commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22: 37-39).
According to Luther, we respond to the call to love our neighbor by fulfilling the duties associated with our everyday work. Women (and some men) who stay at home have much significance and value in impacting God’s kingdom, whether that work involves washing dishes or changing diapers. That work is imbued with the same spiritual significance as that of a priest, pastor, or anyone doing “God’s work.” In Luther’s Babylonian Captivity, he says, “..the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone…”
WHAT IS IN THE HEART?
However, the real issue isn’t whether or not being a stay-at-home parent is a calling. In my opinion, and take that for what it is, being a stay-at-home parent is a calling. The real issue, lies at the center of our hearts. Sin. Now hear me out before you close this window! Pride, jealousy, and coveting create the problem, not our perception of a calling. Any time you think, “I wish…,” you no longer trust all God has given you and is giving you, right now. It is in those moments we feel our identity stems from our accomplishments, our work, our job title, our salary, and what we “do.” If you want to spot this lie, it happens any time you are scrolling social media and wonder how Sharon keeps her stuff together every day, while you are over here looking like a hot mess just trying to keep a child alive. That feeling in your chest of not measuring up, or missing out because you chose to stay home, attacks your identity and your calling. We can’t stand being asked What do you do? because those four little words somehow tally up our worth, and in our eyes, it equals very little.
When you look to the world for identity, you will fall short. The woman who feels the crushing force of cultural demands will not find her worth in the world’s eyes. And your attempts to improve your status through calling, vocation, or salary will lead to sin. You will only find your worth in the identity given to you by Christ as a child of the One True King.
WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?
Jesus has a tendency to ask a lot of questions in the Bible, but one of his most profound questions was in Luke 9:20. “Who do you say I am?” Peter, moved by divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, answers, “The Christ of God.” When we struggle with knowing who we are or what we were created for, we need only to look back on the very words of Scripture. Jesus tells you who you are.
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).
You are “...children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).
You are raised up with Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
You are free from condemnation and set free. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
You are a citizen of heaven. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
You are forgiven of all your sins, even when you try to create your own identity apart from Him. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
Our culture, no matter how much it tries to be a god, will never compare to our God. You were given a promise that He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. And I’m grateful for that because I know that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead also lives in me, even when I’m washing the same load of laundry for the third time. Christ is your identity. That is who you are. Not because the world says so, but because He does.
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