A while back, I asked the Lord to restore to me the joy of homemaking. I’d completely lost any and all desire to cook, clean, launder, decorate, organize ….
Granted, homemaking is much more than those tasks, but the ones I mentioned take up a lot of time and energy of every woman trying to fulfill the Biblical command to be a keeper at home. In all fairness (because it’s important that everything be fair, right?), I was on the tail end of raising three children. Grandchildren had come into the picture. And then we bought a farmhouse that was a legit, one and a half year re-run of The Money Pit. The experience of owning that peculiar place was unique and bizarre enough to justify writing a memoir about it. So, as a side note, please do be on the lookout for my book on the New York Times Bestsellers List someday.
Immediately following the sale of the farmhouse, my Mom (who has Parkinson’s) came to live with us. And scattered throughout all of those events and others that shouldn’t be disclosed on a blog was my cancer scare, and two unexpected surgeries, one of which didn’t turn out so swell. The point is, I was exhausted. I didn’t want to serve anymore.
It should also be noted (continuing on with my need for fairness here) that due to health reasons, I was on my fifteenth year of struggling to eat enough to feed a small fish. And somewhere along the path of chronic illness, my desire to tread the waters of keeping a home completely dissipated. I was still performing whatever tasks I could, but my heart was void of any genuine desire to serve one more needy person.
To say I was in a bad place was an understatement, but in spite of where I was, requests and unspoken expectations to be served kept trickling in. God certainly gave grace to keep serving the best I could, but something was going to have to change. Maybe it would be my heart. Maybe it would be my circumstances. Maybe it would be a combination of both.
Turned out, it was a combination of both. I did need a heart change. I needed less pride and more humility to admit I was weak and needed help. But I also needed circumstantial changes, including a smaller house, fewer responsibilities outside the home, and a breakthrough where my chronic illnesses were concerned.
I didn’t know how to make any of it happen. But I began to pray, figuring if the Psalmist could ask the Lord to restore to him the joy of His salvation, I could ask Him to restore to me the joy of homemaking, and He would answer.
Over the next two years, He did answer. It was a long twenty four months of getting settled into a house with clean water and functional everything, making new friends with helpful neighbors, learning to assign some cooking and cleaning tasks to Mom that she could still manage even with her Parkinson’s, ordering groceries online and having them delivered during the weeks I couldn’t walk well, being persistent with talking to doctors even if they thought I was a hypochondriac, switching my IV feedings to once a week rather than twice a month, and last but certainly not least, consistently praying for mercy in my circumstances and learning to humbly ask for help – or at least admitting I couldn’t do certain activities that are notorious for causing me physical distress.
Pride says I can pick myself up by my bootstraps and do what I want and whatever is needed whenever it’s needed, because it’s expected. Or because I (wrongly) get a self-esteem boost from task completion. Humility says without Him, I can do nothing, and kneels in prayer for strength from above, while possibly nixing some commitments.
It’s important to mention, though, that God does not give me strength to do all things I want to do. He gives me the strength to do all the things He wants me to do. It’s a matter of figuring out His perfect agenda for me versus my too-often selfish agenda, and aligning my will with His. In the overwhelming tasky-ness of homemaking, we can go from doing what God wants us to do with a pure heart, to doing things because we think we are God and without us, surely the world will not continue to go ’round. And if it does go ’round without us, it will become disorderly and ugly. It would seem there’s a fine line between having a genuine heart of servitude and having a corrupted heart of self-sufficiency and control.
So the question is, how do we be zealous keepers at home without becoming joyless, prideful, exhausted, embittered women who can’t handle one more request?
I think the answer is to remember we are but dust (Ps. 103:14). And then schedule our days accordingly. You know, God didn’t make keepers at home exempt from keeping the Sabbath. He made everyone to need sleep, rest, refreshment. The pattern of His own work habits was to work six, rest one. And He made us to sleep, while He never sleeps, which is a direct indication of who is God and who is creature.
I will refrain from telling anyone how to organize their agenda. Maybe ordering groceries online is in order. Or asking a friend to come stay with littles so a much needed nap can be taken, which is at times the most godly form of worship. But this one thing I know:
If we put our agenda before God’s agenda, we will find ourselves praying “restore to us the joy of homemaking.” Yes, He will faithfully answer, but the answer will likely include pain, as it may take fiery trials to get us to hear, believe, and live the fact that we are but dust, and to dust we will return. It’s far easier to simply do what God has said. To rest. To sleep. To control less and pray more.
I believe God wants us to be zealous in our homemaking, and especially in our child rearing. What an opportunity to serve! What an opportunity to disciple! But I also believe that God can do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. (Eph. 3:20) And if we ever try to do good things with zeal, but while relying on our own power? We will go through burnout.
The Lord says He remembers that we are dust. My prayer is that we will remember that truth as well. Because I’m willing to bet that most days, whether wittingly or unwittingly, keepers at home forget their own fragility.
Lord, help us as we serve You to do so in Your strength, not our own. Restore to us the joy of homemaking by giving us rest, sleep, and the humility to practice both. ~Amen