“How’s 2020 been treating you?” It’s a fairly normal question in a normal year. But this year it gets thrown around accompanied by a sinking feeling or an incredulous laugh or the quoting of a meme or two.
Some of us have faced down the loss of a loved one. Some, the loss of a job. Some have found themselves with lots of free time on their hands. Some have found themselves with a call to long hours and high stakes. And some (especially those of us whose work is at home already) have found themselves worried about all these things while simultaneously experiencing “life as usual”—only a little too usual since outside-of-the-home, in-person social interaction has been sadly lacking.
As a homeschooling homemaker married to a man who works from home most days anyway, I have found myself in that “life as usual” category, wondering at times if it’s even right for me to go about my normal routine around here while there is so much wrong in the world out there.
There’s a kind of anxiety that comes from knowing about tragedy and feeling like you can do nothing about it.
So what’s a homemaker to do?
We may be tempted to think that our ordinary work at home matters less because there is so much apparent work to be done in the world beyond our door. But our role as a homemaker is no less important in times of crisis. In fact, unless we are obviously given a public-facing assignment, I contend that our work at home matters even more.
Just because the needs out there become more apparent doesn’t mean that the needs right here have gone away. We all feel the upheaval and uncertainty of our times. And while children may appear to be carefree most of the time, they feel it, too—especially as it effects their parents.
Before I spend too many words on the subject, take a look at this cover art for Blink, an album about motherhood by the Christian musician known as Plumb (Tiffany Arbuckle-Lee).
I love the imagery and what it speaks about the role of mothers. Amid the storm, there’s a shelter, there’s light, there’s a smile, there’s wonder, and there’s both space and provision for beautiful things to grow.
Whatever age our children, or whether we have children at home at all, I think this image can be inspiring in our homemaking as well.
We do well to fight the darkness by turning on the light. Not by brooding. Not by worrying. Not by endlessly researching the latest hot-button issue on the internet.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to [her] life span?” our Lord asks. We might also ask if our worry adds to anyone else’s life either.
This isn’t to dismiss or ignore the real challenges facing our world today, nor is it a call to ignore the needs in our communities that we are capable of meeting, but it is to say there is an appropriate way to deal with all these things–and especially the ones that are beyond our reach.
“Cast all your anxiety on [Jesus] because He cares for you.”
The home that our loved ones experience is made up of both our internal attitudes and our practical service. We would do well to look after both—and to see that they often rise and fall together.
Ladies, if we aren’t taking things before the Lord then we’re choosing to bear them ourselves, choosing to be weighed down with cares that He doesn’t intend for us to carry, cares that keep us from joyful service in our homes. And how will we teach children to cast their cares on Jesus if we don’t practice it ourselves? Will we even see that they have cares that need our guidance and prayers?
And this is where I admit that I know these things because I fall prey to them myself. Even personality types that are supposedly led on by facts and logic and reasoning rather than emotions can find themselves in the endless scroll, the incessant trying-to-fix-it—both of which amount to a worrisome attempt to control circumstances that are beyond our control while ignoring our God-given responsibilities and the people we’re most explicitly called to love.
So if we repent of our worry, if we leave it behind and resolve to trust the Lord, what then are the needs in our home?
And here’s where our attitudes and service really rise and fall together. When we’re worried about so many things, we can’t see what’s right in front of us. So the first step in moving forward is to begin to really see our homes and really see the people in them.
That Proverbs 31 woman “looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
The answer is simple, even if not easy: What we really need is to pay attention and do what we know we ought to do with diligence.
There are a few practical ways this has worked itself out in our family. It’s still a battle to choose joy and to actively resist the temptation to despair, to refuse to bring anxiety about the world into our home environment rather than casting that anxiety on Jesus. But here’s where we have chosen to draw some lines and plant some seeds in our family.
Of course there are the usual chores: keeping the home running and clean, keeping a watch on the budget and food, keeping up with other home projects.
We’ve also committed to sticking to our schedule more than we have in the past. The routine is good for all of us.
We’ve kept up our family bible time. We all need God’s word, all the time.
We’ve focused on our garden. We’ve made space, planted things, and watched them grow. Vegetables, yes. But also flowers. Lots of flowers. Those proverbial roses don’t have to stay proverbial. It’s good to literally stop to smell them, too.
Making space for fun and creativity and good conversation.
Getting outside to enjoy God’s creation and take in visible, tangible signs of beauty and hope. Creation is full of parables.
I took a two-week break from social media to clear my head and my focus. I thoroughly enjoyed it (and I think my family did, too).
We’ve painted as a family. Gone on walks. Read aloud. Caught caterpillars and watched them turn to beautiful butterflies.
We’ve tried to make special days and holidays all-the-more special, not allowing quarantine to keep us from celebrating as a family, from marking times and seasons with thankfulness to God.
Not all of these things are always easy, but they have been good. And this isn’t some checklist or quarantine bucket list. It’s just an encouragement that the ordinary things you do for your home and with your people matter.
And they matter even more in times that are anything but ordinary.
Fight the good fight to do this work rather than neglect it. And most of all, seek the Lord and see your people. Ask God to help you look into the faces of your family members with love and joy and interest. And ask Him to give you wisdom to know what each one needs.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
When the darkness out there seems to close in all around us, when our hearts are troubled, when we’re cut off from regular fellowship, the tone we choose to set for our homes matters immensely.
I’ll sign off with a few words I shared in an email exchange with another mommy-friend:
Yes, the world is a pretty crazy place. … I’ve wanted to do more to help people during this time, but something to remember is that providing a fun, godly, and secure home for children is foundational to civilization. Your and my role in that cannot be overstated. Sometimes I feel like I’m not really doing anything if I’m not somehow being active or being heard ‘out there.’ But what I’m really called to is to be gladly at work and speaking truth and kindness right here. At home. Making a home. A haven in all the crazy. That is kingdom-building and soul-liberating work.
Soli Deo gloria.
Now to get to that pile of laundry…