February 11, 2011

Stay-At-Home Warrior


What do you want to be when you grow up?  I don't know anymore...  Maybe I never really did.  I've answered that question multiple ways over the last twenty-five years, from "a teacher" to "a farmer's wife" (true) to "a musician," only one of which has yet to come to pass (though dairy farming and gardening are rampant in E's gene pool, so you never know what may come about).  One thing I never answered was "a stay-at-home mom."  Maybe that's because my mom worked full-time since I was a tot, and the world of hard-working, "we can do it" mommas was all I knew.  I know now, of course, that stay-at-home moms have one of the most challenging (but subtly rewarding) jobs of all, but the thought of doing that job alone still gives me the heebie jeebies.  

I think one reason I've resisted the "at home" career path is the stunning lack of glory it involves.  While society still has marginal respect for women who choose to stay at home, the homefront itself doesn't offer much praise.  Let's face it: the hours spent in cleaning, doing laundry, assisting the development of one's own children, and cooking a decent meal don't always generate praise because -- when they're done -- things are as they "ought" to be.  Such chores do not necessarily bring kudos because, honestly, their completion doesn't necessarily bring recognition.  Cleanliness, order, sound children, and food on the table are, in our culture, givens.  Taken for granted.  And maybe that's how they ought to be.  But, still, the lack of praise can be deafening.

That's why I was truly astonished when I came across these words in the Word a few days ago:

The Lord gives the command;
The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host:
"Kings of armies flee, they flee,
And she who remains at home will divide the spoil!"

Wow.  What a picture.  The women -- not just any women, but ancient, middle-eastern, home-making women -- are the warriors described in this psalm.  As I've noted before, women of biblical times were certainly not given the same influence as men, though we now find their influence to be greater than we may have realized.  (Read about that here and here, and brace yourself for the next installment; I promise, it's really coming!)  But those few women who were noted for their influence were not noted as such because they were stay-at-home women.  In fact, they were the opposite.  (I'm referring to Ruth, Esther, Proverbs 31 Lady, etc.)  This psalm, however, highlights the power of home-making women, at whose proclamation "kings of armies" run away scared, leaving the spoil to be divided among themselves.  And I doubt the spoil of kings of armies included Hoover vacuum cleaners, Avon make-up supplies or KitchenAid Mixers, however American commercialism of the 1950's (which still holds firmly today) may influence what we deem "treasures" to women.  I'll concede, diamonds were probably among the spoil (ahem, dear...).

But I'm forgetting the most important part: "The Lord gives the command."  At His word, even the most traditional, seemingly powerless women are given the strength to fight mighty battles.  Yet, this battle is fought with no weapons, but the words of good tidings.  Again, wow.  What are these "good tidings," then?  If you read the whole psalm, you'll find that it is themed largely around three facts: 

God is Present among His People:

O God, when You went forth before Your people,
   When You marched through the wilderness,      Selah.
The earth quaked; 
   The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
   Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel (vv. 7-8).


God Provides for His People:

God makes a home for the lonely;
   He leads out the prisoners into prosperity... (v. 6).
You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God;
   You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched.
Your creatures settled in it;
   You provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God (v. 9-10).


God Protects His People:

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
   Is God in His holy habitation (v. 5).
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
   The God who is our salvation.
                                           Selah.
God is to us a God of deliverances;
   And to God the Lord belong escapes from death (v. 19-20).


These good tidings {God's presence, God's provision and God's protection} are the battle cry of Psalm 68's stay-at-home moms, whose words make armed, bearded men pee their pants and ruthless kings desert their fought-for treasures.  The truth is, the good tidings of ancient women are still our tidings today.  The gospel (which, of course, means "good news") is still our battle cry, for in Jesus we too were made participants in God's presence, provision and protection.  Both women who work outside of the home and stay-at-home moms alike have opportunities to tell these awesome truths to our friends, coworkers and children, not only in what we do but also in what we say.

May we, whatever our current or future job status may be, be great warriors of word, and may our weapon -- the gospel on our tongues -- always bring justice, mercy and peace.  I still don't know if the life of a "stay-at-home" mom is in my future.  The heebie jeebies may have their way yet.  But I know that there is glory in such a calling, and it belongs to God.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth,
Sing praises to the Lord,       
Selah.
To Him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times;
Behold, He speaks forth with His voice, a mighty voice.
Ascribe strength to God;
His majesty is over Israel
And His strength is in the skies.
O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary.
The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people.
Blessed be God!

{Psalm 68: 32-35}

*****


Seemingly Appropriate Post Script:

5 comments:

  1. The postscript made me laugh out loud. Hee hee. =)
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this--you know this has been on my heart too for a while now, and it's good to think about it in a godly/scriptural context instead of just the context of my own emotions which, let's face it, quickly become my idols.

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  2. I love the picture at the bottom. Dave laughed, too!

    I have been an at home warrior and never regretted it. The times I had to work outside the home, it was hard. My heart was always yearning for home. :-) My oldest went to daycare for a short time and I hated it. It affected him so much...in negative ways. I got myself back home posthaste.

    Whatever you decide is, obviously, between you, Eric and the L-rd. He is certainly able to watch over you and your family regardless of your decision. I am so glad, though, to see that you are considering something different than what you have experienced. Keep seeking the L-rd. He will guide you as to what is best for all of you. :-)

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  3. Thank you, rain!

    You know I know what you mean, Jenna. :) I have a feeling we'll be thinking on and praying about these things for a while. I'm so glad to have someone in the same exact boat with whom I can talk about it. Thanks, friend!

    Abigail, thank you so much for sharing your perspective as someone who has been on both sides of this. I definitely appreciate your wise words! I can say for certain that I *hope* to be home in the earliest years of our children's lives (which my mom did for the first two kids), though I don't know what later years will bring. I do hope to encourage women to not feel pressured into believing that only one way is "God's way", but to know that -- as you said -- He is able to watch over our families no matter our decisions. Different families must make different choices for different reasons, which I completely respect. I'm just praying our decision will be based on the Lord's leading and not my own selfish desires! Thank you, again, for sharing your wisdom in this discussion!

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  4. Carrie, if you keep seeking His will for your children...what HE knows is best for them...He will lead you and guide you both. I commend you for being open to the idea that what you want can be lead by selfish desires. A lot of parents don't even allow for the possibility of that directing their decisions!

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