Finding Your Purpose: Staying Home

September 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm (Completion, Devotional, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , )

It comes in different forms of expression, with varied nuances and authoritative tones. Yet despite all the different ways I have heard it – from women at every church I have ever attended, to pastors and preachers, from various books speaking of the Christian life, to the patient I took care of in the hospital five years ago – it has been presented to me time and time again: a woman’s place is in the home.

With each hearing of this timeless expression, a piece of me has been irritated to my very core. Looking shamefaced at my irritation and concluding that it was nothing more than a secret dose of feminism that my subconscious keeps locked away in my heart, I sigh and try to push it out of my mind. My place is in the home taking care of my family, taking care of my family, taking care of my – what?!?! Again my heart is exasperated as I remember (as though it is possible I could forget!) the fact that I am 29 and not married, not engaged and not dating.

After church one afternoon, I began cooking a random recipe. I enjoy such things, yet as I cooked I unintentionally relived a conversation I had recently witnessed.

“So,” she began confidentially, “It’s like none of the things I was passionate for have any meaning to me anymore. I just want to stay home with my little boy and take care of my husband.”

As she spoke I smiled, as this was a beautiful passion to have. It is sometimes hard to accomplish in our current economy, but it’s possible and something wonderful to aspire to as a new mother.

A louder, obnoxious voice cut in, interrupting my inner monologue.

“Well, you finally figured it out, hem?” Glancing approvingly at the young woman who has just shared her new passion, this more mature woman then turned her gaze toward the rest of the room (composed mostly of middle-age women) and continued, “It’s no wonder she feels that way; that’s where we women were made to be. At home!”

She took a moment and with words dripping with disdain she drove her point home to this small women’s group, “The world tells us differently, but a woman’s purpose is to be home, loving and caring for her husband and children. If there is a deep desire for a job, that woman’d best get to know what the Bible has to say about her actions!”

There were nods and murmurs of agreement resounding throughout the small room. I felt so out of place, I wanted to leave; yet another part of me wanted to stay and fight. I held my peace as I noticed the first young woman was getting ready to speak again.

“That’s so true. You know once I really started to get to know God’s Word, I could see more and more clearly that He has made women for that purpose. To love our husbands and be there to raise our children.”

The room seemed to be filled with a slightly suffocating fuzzy glow as murmurs of approval once again rose, along with exchanged glances of agreement and knowing nods of concurrence. Being surrounded by all of this agreement in a woman’s purpose was making me uncomfortable. Not because I didn’t want other women to be happy. Nor was it because I felt as though I myself was unfulfilled. It appeared as though I was the square peg in the round hole – again.

The conversation continued and I could carry on quite well. I respected and loved these women, yet the implications of the ideas that were behind their words remained with me long after we said our good nights, though the precise reason regarding why my heart was disturbed eluded me.

Yet as I replayed the conversation in my mind while I cooked dinner that Sunday afternoon, I had an epiphany. My agitation at the idea that a women’s place is in the home was not the subtleties of an over-compensating, anti-progressionist, and sometimes all-out cut-throat competition of the sexes, but instead it functioned as an alarm that a lie was being broadcast to me.

The lie is found on the lips of Christian culture at large. The root of it all is contained in one very simple word: completion. The world seeks completion in countless forms, but for the Christian, true completion is found only in the person of Jesus Christ.

Although the Christian world knows this, substitutes are found and one of the most destructive lies that will cause the decay of a marriage union is the deadly idea that a woman is not complete until she is married. Though it may seem an obvious lie, it is nevertheless one of the most heavily relied-upon and damaging lies within the American Christian sub-culture.

Words are merely an expression of ideas, of thoughts, of emotions. In today’s world we often use words as though they do not mean much, but in reality the words that we use express our heart’s deepest convictions. The travesty in this idea of completion coming with marriage is that it is outright, bold-faced idolatry, communicated to young women as holy truth which ought to be followed at all costs.

As I look back on my life, I’ve discovered that I have often been encouraged to search for life in marriage, not life in Christ. In a recent conversation I was asked if I had ever had a boyfriend, to which I responded that I had not. My conversational companion immediately referred me to a nearby Bible College, where I was told there were, “nice, godly young men.” I hoped my acquaintance was making a joke, but I’m enough of a realist to know that that was probably not the case.

Later as my new acquaintance walked me to the door, he turned and said to the rest of the room, “Hey guys! I think we need to start praying for Amanda’s husband!” I must have worn an expression of shock, embarrassment and anger on my face, for when he looked at me his smile disappeared and he looked at me and asked hesitantly, “That’s all right, isn’t it?”

Trying to be gracious I responded with, “Of course. Pray for him. But pray that I know that a husband won’t complete me.” He looked at me and winked, jabbing my heart with, “Yeah, but it’s a start!” and before he shut the door behind me, I was weeping.

The encouragement to seek completion beyond Christ is disturbing. It’s already difficult enough to live counter-culturally in the secular world. How odd it is when it feels as though I’m trying to live counter to the Christian-culture.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Colossians 3:1-4

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11 Comments

  1. willeymac said,

    Amanda,

    I read your post and my heart bleeds for you and other woman like you. You are not married and you do not have children; you do not have “a home.” So, what is your place, what is your roll? But know this: it is not just women who are pressured to marry and are being told that won’t be complete till they do. As someone who is called to ministry, is a male, and is 26; I have no prospects for real dating, much less marriage. The church, intentionally and unintentionally, pressures us to be married because of the world we live in; it is a sexually carnal and perverse world full of traps and temptations.

    That is not a good reason to push people to marriage.

    You MUST be complete BEFORE you marry someone. If you think someone else is going to complete you…then you are in trouble. Complement you? Of course. Complete you? Not a chance. Those definitely are lies that the enemy is using to discourage singles from being involved with the church for the kingdom. A woman’s PRIMARY thought should be toward her family, but that is not the only reason God made women. If you don’t have a family, then all of your energy should be in serving the Lord and loving others.

    Be encouraged; you are complete only in Christ.

    • Amanda said,

      Completion in Christ is the only TRUE completion found in this world.

      All else is an empty facade. Marriage can be a powerful partnership, but it is NOT the end all and I fear for many girls I’ve discipled over the years that have been indoctrinated in that line of thinking.
      “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” – 1 Cor. 8:6.

      I was made by Him and for Him.

      And I am in a position of freedom to serve Him in various capacities.

      Thanks for the reminder that it’s not just girls who are pressured. I was interning at a Christian Conference Center in Austria some time back and there was a pastor desperate to marry every GUY off. I mean, he worked HARD at it! It was funny and sad and backwards and awkward all at the same time.

      Thank God I was made for Him, right? =)

  2. Lydia Herman said,

    Amanda, I had several thoughts run through my head that I felt I should share as I read your blog. I hope that I can express them coherently. My first thought was when you were talking about the woman who said that any woman who wants a job is not in her Bible. My first thought was of the description of a Godly woman, I believe in Proverbs, that talks about her taking care of her family AND providing income for them. It always bothers me when people make blanket statements like that that are judgemental without realizing that they are probably showing judgement to themselves in the statement.
    My next thought was about how sad that what you were saying about the church pushing people to get married is. Luckly I grew up with the understanding that God calls some people to being single. Yes, the Bible/Paul talks about that it is easier to be married. But that is not God’s plan for all of us. I agree with Willeymac that you must be completed Before marriage. I preach to girls all the time that you must know who you are before any relationship will work. If you are looking for someone esle to fix you or find your identity through then the relationship is doomed from the start. I can understand how those of us in a marriage can want it for our friends and family who we care about, and get careless with that attitude. Thank you for the reminder to be sensitive to that with our single friends.
    When I met you at your graduation party you told Jeff and I of what you would like to do with your life. I believe that if that is what God has truely called you too (which I suspect) then you are following the right path. And if God wants to give you a partner through marriage He will set it up at the right time with someone who is on the same path.
    Anyhoo, I hope this was an encouragement to you. I may have just rambled at you , which if that is the case then I’m sorry. 🙂 Hang in there.

    • Amanda said,

      Lydia,

      Thank you, that was a tremendous encouragement to me. =) That’s an excellent point about the Proverbs 31 woman. She had one of my favourite words: balance.
      You’re quite right. I’ve witnessed more relationships than I’d like to recount where the young woman placed her identity, not in Christ, but in being a wife, being a mother, etc. It’s a dangerous line to try to walk, with broken lives littered on both sides of the line. Why try to fill with human relationships, what only God was meant to fulfill? Completion in Christ will surely enrich any relationship I have and not place unrealistic god-like expectations on others.

      There have been times in my walk with God where out of nowhere I feel this tremendous surge of joy and exhilaration. It’s a feeling very much like love; but it’s love for Jesus and what He has done, is doing and will do. God is wonderful at lifting us up when we need it most.

      It was a pleasure meeting you last December. It’s been nearly a year, perhaps we should see one another again! =)

      One of my favourite verses:
      “You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” – Ps. 27:8

  3. Marjorie Lasko said,

    Amanda,

    Wow…..

    I really enjoyed reading your blog today and I truly understand your feelings. I too was raised to believe that a woman’s place was in the home, taking care of her husband and children. I remained single until the age of 25, when I met and married my sweet husband. As I look back on my life now, I realized that my one ambition was to meet someone, get married and have a family. After all, this was what society says I was to do! Although I am happily married (33 years now) and love my husband dearly, and I’ve raised two beautiful daughters, they do not, and I repeat DO NOT, fill me completely. I have spent many of those 33 years with a feeling of emptiness, always seeking things of the world, or believing that my husband or children could fill that void. WRONG…..It wasn’t until I gave my life over to Jesus Christ that I realized the emptiness and the lack of completeness I had been experiencing could not be filled by things of this world, (nor through my husband & children) but only through Christ and Christ alone! You are a beautiful person Amanda…..do not let the words of others discourage you, you are doing what ALL of us should be doing, and that is looking up, and seeking Christ, putting Him first above everything else! I believe as your friends have stated, that if God wants you to have a partner in marriage, than He will set it up in His timing, and in the meantime, continue to be faithful to Christ, seeking Him first above all things. I have ‘always’ seen the love of Christ in you, and it was through meeting and knowing people as yourself, that I realized true happiness does not come through people or worldly things, but only through Jesus! Love you Amanda!

  4. Kevin Helton said,

    A little popular post you have here, Amanda.

    First, I think the image in this post is a bit unfair… 🙂

    In regard to the post, I believe that marriage is a very important relationship in the life of the Christian. Marriage was one of the first institutions given by God in the Garden of Eden (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”). God really didn’t leave too much of an option here in the beginning using the strong verb “shall”. Of course, multiplying was of utmost importance at the time. But God never backed down from this. Jesus quoted this in Matthew 19. Still valid.

    In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives his personal views on singleness but prefaces his encouragement as a concession and not the God given ideal.

    In the Garden, God said it was not good for man to be alone. There needed to be a helper suitable for him. Then, He created the first woman, Eve. She was designed to compliment Adam as they together glorified God as one flesh. Why was it not good for man to be alone? Because God is a relational God (“Let Us make man in Our image” – relationships within the Godhead). Marriage was modeled after the relationship within the Trinity (think headship within the Trinity and Marriage). All members are equal but have different God-given roles that compliment each other member.

    We see in Ephesians 5 how the relationship between a husband and wife is exampled by the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. Christ’s relationship with His Church helps us to better understand marriage, and living in a marriage helps us to better understand how Christ relates to the Church. It is a very significant relationship.

    In Titus 2, older women are encouraged to “admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” This is the heart I see from the comments of the women you overheard. Not necessarily an identity issue, but an obedience issue within the marriage. Paul writes these traits to paint a picture of a God-glorifying wife in marriage.

    The Bible greatly emphasizes the importance of marriage in the Christian’s life. Is it a sin to not marry? Well, that wasn’t the topic of the conversation you overheard. From what you wrote, it seems the topic was obedience within an existing marriage with children involved. And, no, it is not a sin to not marry. Is it a sin to burn with passion and not marry? Possibly. Do some not have a passion for marriage and children? Yes. Are they in sin? No.

    To sum up maybe an erratic argument from me, God has given a husband and a wife specific roles and duties within the marriage relationship (husband is main provider, protector, etc – wife is caregiver, nurturer, etc). But for a single Christian (and while the traits within a marriage are still beneficial), it is not required of him or her to fulfill the duties of a husband or a wife. It is apparent that for the single, non-spouse seeking Christian, God has other plans and uses for that person that will glorify Him just as He sees fit.

    Marriage isn’t about seeking an identity in a person, but rather in obedience, seek to glorify God in the marriage relationship that He’s created and instituted to uniquely give Him His due glory. Sometimes on the outside it may look like a person is searching for their identity. But God Himself said “two become one flesh” and their identities become merged. Separate, equal, distinct persons in one. Just like the Trinity.

    • Amanda said,

      Hi Kevin,

      While I agree that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church (amongst other things, many of which you disclosed in your comment), I have been single and in church long enough to feel a bit of a “class” separation in many instances between married people and single people. I have witnessed too many people I love begin to confuse their identity as a daughter of God with “I am my husband’s wife. I love him and serve him and he is the head.” Am I saying that that sentiment is wrong? By no means!

      But I grow disheartened as I talk with some married young women at times. Once, I listened to a friend talk to me about all the Lord was doing in her husband’s life and how He was using him. I was conflicted. On one hand, I felt joy that she was supporting her husband so well, but on the other hand I felt concern -though I couldn’t pinpoint why.

      So I poised a question. I told her how wonderful it was that God was using her husband and that he was uninhibited in exercising his giftings. So I asked her what she believed her spiritual gifts were. The answer was that she said she didn’t think she had any.

      That broke my heart and we did a quick study of the Word, because that is obviously not true.

      My issue isn’t to pit marriage against singleness, but to see that there are incredible STRUGGLES and beautiful OPPORTUNITIES in both. Reading over your post, the way in which the information is organized and presented really does make a single Christian girl feel incomplete. That is the lie that is so shrewdly propagated. Because the fact is God hasn’t blessed me with marriage. Right now, He’s blessed me with singleness.

      In a way your comment proves my point because it has the feel of “Yes! Completion comes with marriage.” I love Jesus and know that He is the One that completes me, but other Christians may be more easily tripped up. Take caution in your tone and use of scripture. Haha. Let me clarify THAT statement with this one: scripture is described as a sword, and a sword ought to be used carefully and with precision. From where I stand, it felt like you just threw a lot of scripture at me, capitalizing on the good of marriage (which I am also for, by the way). The post wasn’t a contention against traditional marriage, it was against young people (women in particular) being led to think that their lives can’t TOTALLY, TRULY begin until they are married.

      That is the lie that I bought into. Praise God I realized its error.

      I can be content and complete in Him now. =)
      What a gift that is!

  5. jenny freeman (murphy) said,

    hey old timers! ( Kevin and Amanda ) : )

    i thought i would just toss in a few two senses from my ends… the end of being single for a very extended period of time, to marriage and then pregnancy quickly after our “i do’s”.

    Wow, you both bring up some really amazing and valid points.
    First, Amanda, i hear you sister! Why? because I was one of the girls that had idolized marriage since the age of 16.. right around the time i met both of you! And it had very dramatic and i believe harming ramifications through out my singleness and at times even my new, new married life. Although I was saved and was learning what it meant to know Christ through his word and personal fellowhsip with him, he was not my treasure. So, i struggled and struggled and struggled. Many of my guy friendships turned grey. I was so focused on finding ‘the one’ that the best One was not on my mind at times. Wash, rinse, repeat for about oohhhhh 12 years! Yes, it wasnt till 2008, one of the lonliest and most painful years of my life, that I realized, i wasnt made for this world, i was made for Heaven, i wasnt made for any man for satisfaction, I was made to be satisfied in Christ alone.. and i tell you, i was! Through many lonely nites and tears, and not to mention lots of amazing opportunites to serve and enjoy the blessed gift of singleness, I had found my Love. The one my soul loves.

    It was also that summer of 2008, that the Lord gave me a word that I would know who the person I would marry would be. Pshhhh… i first thought, uh, sure Jenny, manipulating again? But really, it was very clear during a time of direct praying in the area of marriage that God revealed that to me…. little did I know that Mr. Ryan Freeman would start pursing me that November and by March 2010 he would be my husband. Dont get me wrong, this is not another formula of ” being content in singleness = God brings you a husband” bit.. I was very anti those talks and thoughts.. but more of a wow, Christ is everything.
    Fast forward to being married 7 months now. And pregnant! my wildest dream come true : ) no really it is.. but also, its been one of the hardest transitions i have ever had to face. Not to mention the spiritual warfare that was heavy on us literally up to our wedding day…( ill save that for another day ) So, im married and pregnant and so grateful for my husband and unborn son, i truly, truly am.. But now, i can boldly and truthfull say that Christ is better, better than all of it.
    Not saying that my calling as a wife and mother are now out the window. By no means! And i, with Amanda, agree with the purposes of marriage that you have laid out Kevin. What a comfort to know that we can turn to Scripture when in doubt. I just hope that the emphasis on getting married isnt lost in the translation of one’s identity being in Christ alone. Because when we are in Heaven, I doubt our gaze will turn to another when we have Christ as our Bridegroom, amen?
    All this to say is, I do not feel worthy, nor adequate for this high calling as a wife and mother.. Therefore, I know its a calling! As well as singleness! God chose to use my singleness to glorify himself the most, until it glorified him more to join Ryan and I together as one.

    Its so encouraging, really to hear two old high school friends discuss these deep life issues, and still hold to Gods word and Christ as the foundation. It breaks my heart to see so many friends who are not living this way. I praise God for his grace in my life to save me from my sins and still make himself known to me.

    Much love to you both, and thanks for reading this prego mama’s babbling : )

    jenny murphy

  6. Amanda said,

    Jenny,

    That was beautifully worded, my friend. Thank you for such a well thought-out response. At times, I can’t help it. I will often hear with a more serious ear those who know through personal experience, what it can feel like to be single for prolonged periods of time. Usually those individuals have walked the path I am walking now and can empathize with my struggles and give wisdomous =) advice on how I can better fix my eyes on my Saviour.

    I am so excited for you, as the Lord leads both you and your husband into this new chapter of life. Some days this thought is WONDERFUL to me (some days, not so much): through all of life’s circumstances, we will never cease learning the life lessons from our Saviour. I’m sure He has been teaching you much as you enter this new sphere.

    Jenny, thank you again for speaking with such love on this very personal topic. You have been a great encouragement to my heart.

    Amanda

    “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

    Last note: You know, sometimes I have to force myself to pray on this matter, for in the scope of REAL suffering…well, the two are incomparable. Yet, Christ urges me that He cares about the largest problems in the world, as well as the smallest matters in my heart.
    How great of a God do we serve? It is utterly incomprehensible. And it brings a humility and a joy to my heart, all at once.

  7. Elizabeth said,

    Hi, there!

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I just came to your blog from another site. It’s nice to find other 29 year old single Christians!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. As a single woman, it’s difficult to hear things like, “A woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother.” I tend to fall into the trap of feeling like what I do as a single is kind of second rate, or just a placeholder…

    Thanks for being so open and honest!

    • Amanda said,

      Hey thanks! I think out of all my posts, this is the one that is closest to my heart. Those sayings can be difficult to take and I think you use the term “placeholder” perfectly because that’s truly what it feels like at times.

      Lately I’ve been praying that God would use my singleness radically for Him – whether it’s for a season or for a lifetime, I desire that adventure with my God. 🙂

      And sadly, I am no longer 29! I turned 30 on the 14th. Decided that http://thelast2weeksofmy20s.com sounded catchy and ought to be a website. So I cataloged the last couple weeks of my 20s. It was kind of fun writing stuff that made a joke of it all. 🙂

      Have a beautiful day and thanks for the words of encouragement!

      Ps.27:8

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