Quoting Quiverfull: Getting Busier Cures Depression?

Quoting Quiverfull: Getting Busier Cures Depression? March 7, 2014

From No Greater Joy -When You Need a Miracle by Erin Harrison

During those black years I felt it would never end. Maybe you didn’t bring into your marriage the baggage I did, and maybe your husband is a mean, lazy jerk or even a pervert, but pity, despair and bitterness will not set you free from your own state of nothingness, lack of productivity, wanting of challenge, or any real rewards. Do you know what I am talking about—working and never seeing the end of it? It is the everyday grind, the repetitive tasks, the thankless labors, and being tired of just living. I remember how desperate and lonely I was. I lived in blame toward those who had hurt me, or criticizing others who hadn’t rescued me. I was unsettled all the time. I felt as if I was sinking on a vast ship of five screaming, demanding passengers, with no life vests to save us. None of the children could possibly understand how tired I really was. They could not help me, and they could not carry on an intelligent conversation, as I so craved. I piled all my needs onto my poor husband who had no clue how to make me happy. He would come home to a frumpy, crabby woman in tears, desperate to take whatever he had left to give at the end of the day, and I would draw out whatever bit of life was left in him until he could give no more.

Before my husband encouraged me to work harder, I was a young mother handicapped by her own mind. I had no idea that my mind was self-absorbed in pity and frustration and that my energy was being drained by my bitterness. All those years are gone forever. I am sad that I did not enjoy my babies and the husband of my youth as I should have. It is a miracle that my husband did not pack his bags and leave me. I know I would have if I had been treated the way I treated him.

I am ashamed of that time, yet I am thankful that my husband loved me through it. He came to see that all I needed was more to do, not less. And he was right. How could a mother give more? How could she possibly stretch her wings farther than the children she was working so hard to tuck under the safety of her wing? I needed structure. I needed something to pour myself into so I would not get consumed with myself. Proverbs 31 is written for us ladies to take note and follow. It is an instruction manual written to show us how to find our way as wives and mothers who are created in HIS image. We were created to excel.

Comments open below

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Nea

    I rarely am this blunt but… Erin, you need to shut up, NOW. You obviously know nothing about clinical depression. You know little about situational depression, despite what you say. Your “advice” isn’t a path out of exhaustion, it is the last straw on the camel’s back to tell someone who already can’t cope that they must work harder, do more… and with what? Proverbs 31’s woman has a staff. Proverb 31’s woman has an actual job. Proverb 31’s woman does big things WITHOUT ASKING HUBBY FIRST. You make demands of women that your own culture won’t let them fulfill and you know this!

    Erin, your advice is not the recipe to cure depression. It is the toxic thinking that created dead Yeats children.

    ETA: Do you know what sets women free from feeling like nothing, being unproductive, feeling unchallenged? Knowing that they are people too. That they have autonomy, worth, value, and that their needs count. That it’s not just okay, but vitally necessary to take care of themselves. All those things that you don’t offer, Erin. That you say was some kind of gift your husband gave you instead of the bare minimum one person gives another to keep them from snapping in two. Well, huzzah for him; do you even know if he loves you or if he was just trying to keep you from going like Andrea? Because I can’t tell when you’re so thrilled that he meets the lowest of bars for caring.

  • Guest

    “I needed structure. I needed something to pour myself into so I would
    not get consumed with myself.”
    I can relate to that. But my solution wasn’t to just “get busy”, but to think about how I can make things work for me so I feel less like I’m on the hamster wheel.

    “Proverbs 31 is written for us ladies to
    take note and follow. It is an instruction manual written to show us how
    to find our way as wives and mothers”

    No no no no no no NO!!!!!! Who taught you that?

    The famous (or should we say infamous) Proverbs 31 woman is as real as Caroline Ingalls from the Little House on The Prairie TV series. She doesn’t exist.

  • Trollface McGee

    Ugh. I’ve struggled with clinical depression my entire life, most of my family has some form of mental illness and I work with a lot of mentally ill people – so I don’t know if she’s just ignorant or deliberately cruel. It doesn’t work that way.

    “Before my husband encouraged me to work harder, I was a young mother handicapped by her own mind”

    What? Just what? No, stop. Stop! Your husband was being a complete JERK, he deserved to be admonished for his rudeness and ignorance, instead you are praising him – what the hell is wrong with you? It’s all about him, he’ll leave her? What about marriage being forever – in sickness and in health? If your spouse is depressed, if they’re stressed about being stuck in the house with too many kids and not enough support – you help them, not whine about how it’s bad for you.

  • Trollface McGee

    You are absolutely right. When I read the husband’s reaction – the first thing I thought was the Yates case – and fundie culture is such that he still hasn’t accepted responsibility for his role.

  • Saraquill

    I tried to read this, but I couldn’t go through more than a couple of sentences. This twit has no idea how depression works.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    It’s the old adage about putting on your own oxygen mask first. You cannot properly love others if your own well of self-love* is empty. It took me a long time to learn that, but it works!

    *For anyone who thinks “self-love” is narcissistic, substitute “self-care.” You wouldn’t let your car go without changing the oil. Why let yourself go?

  • Nea

    Funny how when Andrea was desperate to leave, god hated divorce. But when Rusty wanted to get his rocks off again, god didn’t mind divorce.

  • Guest

    “I felt as if I was sinking on a vast ship of five screaming, demanding
    passengers, with no life vests to save us. None of the children could
    possibly understand how tired I really was. They could not help me, and
    they could not carry on an intelligent conversation, as I so craved.”

    She was home alone all day with 5 very young children and nobody to have a conversation with. That’s hard.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I went to the source– read as a whole, the blog post is surprisingly feminist. Her husband gave her a camera, and scriptural permission from Proverbs 31 to use her artistic ability to create an income-generating business.

    There’s the depression caused by a chemical imbalance… and there’s also self-hatred, which is a different thing. Self-hatred is like living with a verbal abuser who’s berating you all your waking hours, and follows you into your dreams to torment you.

    However, taking up a visual, artistic pursuit which takes up your mental energy can silence that inner verbal abuser by starving it of the brain energy needed to keep it going. And the gift itself, given their straitened circumstances at the time, was a powerful vote of confidence. “I know you’re good enough to create saleable photographs with this, and justify the price of its purchase. I know you’re good enough to run a profit making business with this. You have worthwhile talents– your value isn’t limited to your ability to produce babies and do manual labor.”

    Depression may be durable, but self-hatred can turn on a dime in the right circumstances, since it’s caused by the person’s view of herself. And if nothing else, the excuse of “I have a paying job to get to” can free you from the endless perfectionism over housework. Getting it done becomes good enough. I can’t tell you how much of blessing THAT is for someone with self-hatred!

    Self-hatred saps your energy to an extent that it’s only when you begin to recover from it that you realize how much of your energy is eaten up by it. In some meditation, I visualized mine as a giant parasite half my own size attached to my aura– and this was after considerable therapy and self-work! It was amazingly freeing for me to realize time after time, in area after area “I don’t have to be ashamed of that! It’s quirky, but there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t have to apologize for that! It wasn’t my fault. I don’t have to be ashamed of that! It’s a normal human quality.”

    I’m still not all the way there, but I’m so much, much better than I was. ;-D

  • quietglow

    Yeah, he doesn’t encourage her to work harder; he pushes her to pick up an interest. She says herself she doesn’t double down on the drudgery parts of housework, she gets the kids to help with that and expands her own interests into something she was good at and wanted to do.

    The quoted part makes it look like she’s doubling down by immersing herself in the work she already has.

  • persephone

    At the time Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique, the common directive unhappy women were given by their doctors was to work harder around the house. Keep busy, busy, busy and you won’t have time to think about how miserable you are. This is how quiverfull works, just like any cult, keep the members overwhelmed with work, short on sleep, and the diet low in necessary nutrients, especially protein.

  • Aimee Shulman

    The Proverbs 31 woman also lives a life that is so unlike the quiverfull ideal that I honestly don’t understand how these women can even look at that chapter and think “Yes, this applies to ME!” She has her own real-estate business, for goodness sake, and she runs it BY HERSELF, and she has authority in and out of the home over herself, her job, her household, and her family. Whereas the quiverfull girls (it’s hard for me to call them women) are basically treated like children all their lives and are never allowed to do anything except make and rear more children.

  • Guest

    That’s the way I read it too. Context is important.

  • Guest

    Now that I’ve read the whole post, it seems like her husband is the opposite of a jerk. By encouraging her to pour herself into something she enjoyed doing, he helped her find the door to a fulfilling life.

  • Guest

    Try reading the whole post. Not just the part quoted here.

  • Ann

    I was really excited to find this site, after posting on another site at first glance this site is awesome. I’m disappointed they would like anything from “no Greater joy”. Anyone who has read the books “Created to be his help meet” or “preparing to be his help meet by debbi pearl would know that they are quite basically exactly what a “quiverful” family looks like.

    On to this specific peace, having suffered from Clinical depression (half a chemical imbalance, half PTSD from paternal abuse) when people talk about the whole idea of being able to either choose not to be depressed (I get told that I can choose alll time time) or when they talk about just getting busy or getting out fixing it. It really isn’t that simple, now if you are like my mom and not allowed to leave the house to get a job, or someone who really just doesn’t have a life, I can understand business helping with depression. But for the most part this isn’t the case.

  • Ann

    Check out a lot of stuff by that ministry…it shouldn’t be posted anywhere.

  • Trollface McGee

    I don’t know – it read like it was an order from him because he knows better than her, or she’s afraid to act without his permission. And the reason she was depressed and overwhelmed – being alone with a bunch of kids, housework, no adults to talk to – that’s still with her.
    It’s nice that it was something she loved and it gave her the drive to do it – but the whole point of the article seems to be – keep your wife busy and in line so she won’t annoy you with her emotions.

  • Jewel


    I’m unfamiliar with Rusty. Is that Andrea’s ex-husband?

  • Jewel

    I couldn’t agree more. I have struggled with depression for the greater part of my life as well. The blackest years of it where when I was trapped at home homeschooling my children, and I only have 2, not 5. Reading this was actually very triggering to me. Granted, I didn’t go to the blog and read it in context. But I can’t imagine “doing more” would have done anything but send me over the edge. Relief only came to me by doing less – putting the kids in school, ditching the abusive, unsupportive ex-husband, and finally focusing on myself for the first time in almost 2 decades.

    I am curious as to how the OP was able to pursue her work with 5 children at home and no help. Did the husband finally pitch in? Did they hire child care?

  • Jewel

    I’m curious though (and mentioned below) how she was able to accomplish this. Did the hubby finally pitch in with his fair share of child care? Did they hire help? I would have loved to pursue a hobby or paid work at some point while my children were younger, but there was no way I ever could have. Everything was centered around my ex-husband’s schedule. He would and could take off whenever he wanted to for work or whatever, but I was the one stuck home with the kids. How can a mother in that situation possibly pursue a hobby or paid work?

  • Jewel

    Exactly. In true clinical depression (have suffered with myself) you have no energy nor desire to do anything even if presented with the opportunity. Adding more activity will only be perceived by the body and mind as stress even if it was once a pleasurable thing. You have to fix the chemical imbalance and/or life situations causing the depression first.

  • quietglow

    I don’t know. It’s possible that having a new goal motivated her to make small changes with the children’s responsibilities. Perhaps it was just good timing that the oldest got big enough to turn themselves into helpers from responsibilities alone right when she was able to take advantage of that, and that helped her turn things around.

    She doesn’t mention anyone else pitching in, but of course it’s possible that people did step in here and there, and she didn’t think to mention little parts of the story.

    Depression’s a varied beast and people get through it in all kinds of accidental ways. I’m just glad another person did.

  • Trollface McGee

    She got the kids involved with her photo hobby/career (which is a pretty good move), and added on to their chores (not so good given what that culture is usually like). The husband didn’t change a thing. And of course the message at the end – if you’re struggling, get busy – not “pursue something you love” or “find fulfilment” or “ask your partner for help,” just be busy and do the housekeeping with your kids because it’s the woman’s job so asking the husband to help out or hiring a maid is out of the question.

  • Astrin Ymris

    It’s possible that simply lowering her standards for housework from “It has to be perfect or it’s not good enough!” to “If it’s been done, it’s good enough” freed up a lot of time for her. And once freed from the trap of beating herself up 24/7, she may have been able to see lots of ways in which she could accomplish tasks more efficiently.

  • teaisbetterthanthis

    I fight with depression every day. Some days are easier (I can ignore that nagging, lying whisper) and others are just damn hard. And that’s WITH a few courses of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and antidepressants.
    Staying productive helps, but isn’t a cure. Note: productive, not busy. I’ve worked in various jobs, and those where I saw a visible result to my work made it easier to deal with my brain. For example the shipping/receiving department of a store has very visible results: you get x shipments in that have to be processed, y packages to box up and send out; workspaces, ideally, start out clear, fill up, and then clear off again. Pallets or carts are full, then empty, then full; once this stage is finished, merchandise moves on to the next department. Running a cash register is busy, but not visibly productive (but involves more social interaction), and isn’t *quite* as helpful for fighting depression on a daily basis. It’s still better than laying in bed or on the couch all day, but it’s not as obviously productive.

    Busy and productive are different things, and everyone’s depression is different. Blanket statements and generic “just stay busy” advice don’t help.

  • Nea

    Yup. Drove her crazy, then walked away, blaming everyone and everything except his constant demands on her.

  • quietglow

    It’s probably that she says “maybe your husband is a mean, lazy jerk or even a pervert, but pity,
    despair and bitterness will not set you free from your own state of
    nothingness, lack of productivity, wanting of challenge, or any real
    rewards” when she had a husband who sounds like he didn’t know how to cope but still did his best to encourage her.

    So if someone else’s husband is an abusive creep and he doesn’t think to get that lady a camera, the same situation that got the author out won’t work.

  • For any believer who thinks something is wrong with self-love, remember one of the greatest commandments is: “love your neighbour as you love yourself. “

  • The Proverbs woman had (well-paid) servants. She did not do everything alone. She went afar to bring in food, she did not stay at home. She sold her produce in the market.

    (It is my take that the passage actually say that to look for praise and value through high achieving – listing an exhausting list of achievements – is chasing wind, so is charm and beauty, but a woman who fears the Lord should be praised. Praising a woman who fears the Lord is a command, even if she doesn’t meet the impossible standards listed in this passage. http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/proverbs-31-for-women-who-gets-tired-sometimes/ )

  • Guest

    Sometimes housework seems like endless drudgery, especially when there’s no real reason to want to get it all done in a set amount of time. I’ve been my most unproductive self when I was “only” at home with the children all day long.
    Like Jewel, I couldn’t have committed to a job while my husband was always leaving (and taking the car with him) and I never knew when he’d be back.
    Now I have a little job in the mornings, and just getting out and making some money is helping me feel less dependent. I hate feeling dependent and I’ve always wanted a source of income.

  • Guest

    I’m really sorry you are hating your life, sjreidhead. Sometimes I wish I could run away from mine. Sometimes I feel incredibly tired of living. The house needs so much repair done to it but I don`t know where to start. The money to do it isn`t there. I’m afraid of letting people into my life because I’m not happy with it. There are always little things coming up with the kids. When it’s not a health issue, it’s something to do with school or behavior… My faith is like a broken chair. No support at all, just one more source of worry. So is my marriage.

    But I have to keep deciding not to throw in the towel. I got a little job in January, and I have a few students I tutor. Yes, the tutoring brings out a ton of self-doubt (am I good enough at this???), but feedback is slowly helping me build something resembling confidence. One day, I would like to pursue a dream.

  • Guest

    I agree, and I think you hit the nail on the head: productivity, not busyness, helps with some depression. Sometimes I’ll “attack” a cupboard or one of the refrigerators when I’m feeling especially low, but sometimes all I want to do us crawl under my blanket and sleep the hours away. Cleaning the cupboard gives me a sense of achievement, and I usually feel better when I’m done.

  • Guest

    Although her sentence rings true, that truth doesn’t set a woman stuck in an abusive marriage free. Perhaps she could try to do something for herself, but would her husband not turn around and abuse her even more if she did?
    I hate the way wives are placed fully at the mercy of their husbands in patriarchal marriages.

    As a side note, this author works with Debi Pearl.

  • Guest

    She says she became “super mom” and did it all. She started getting up extra early to do computer work, she took her children with her to all her work appointments, and her children started doing chores around the house. Now that they are older, she gives them “mom bucks” for completed jobs and fines them for things like fighting or not getting a chore done on time.

  • Guest

    The article is written only from her perspective. She explains that her husband had to work 10-hour days to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table, so he was obviously tired when he got home. She doesn’t say that he complained or anything.
    She may have been afraid of doing something without his permission, but it didn’t sound like that to me, just that she didn’t know what to do about her unhappiness and lack of drive in life.

  • Guest

    Do you mean No Greater Joy? I agree. That stuff is awful.

  • Guest

    They lived in a trailer for a while after they befriended a self-proclaimed “prophet” that sold everything and moved into a trailer with his growing family to go off and preach his version of the Gospel to the world. His name is Woroniecki. (Be warned, he’s pretty extreme)

  • quietglow

    By the way, according to the photographer, that’s a male bird co-parenting in that image.


  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I posted the photo wondering if anyone would pick up on it. Lol