Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Think it Through" Thursday

I am currently a stay at home Mama. I studied music in college and for a masters--voice performance and choral conducting-- and then taught for a few years after I got married. I love teaching, seeing the variety of personalities in my students, the different ways they respond to music or new information, and hearing a finished piece performed. I also loved the variety it punched into my day or week, class changes, running around to different campuses, etc... 

Staying at home has been an adjustment. I had planned to work part time after Baby P was born, but after a long hospital stay on bedrest and P being born two months prematurely, any kind of childcare with other little ones was just not an option during that first year. I was so wrapped up in Baby that the change of plans didn't bother me, but as the months passed I definitely got into a bit of a funk, one that I have to consciously remind myself not to succumb to even now. I sometimes felt underappreciated, using every fiber of your being and every ounce of energy to serve a little creature without the ability to smile at you or say "Thank you very much for all that you do, Mama. I truly appreciate the 3 am snack, " can be physically and emotionally exhausting. In addition, our culture (and we ourselves) has made idols of tangible accomplishments like power, wealth, influence and job status. Even Christians, who know that their identity as children of God is the only thing that matters, we are still often discontent with our situation in life. When you give in to the kind of self-focused thinking that craves recognition for your work or your talents, mothering can be downright depressing. The very necessary, day-to-day tasks of caring for little ones, of maintaining a household and raising children with moral integrity are unlikely to bring in six-figures or a promotion. The thing is, if you are a mama and a wife, that's exactly where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to be working toward. It doesn't matter if the work you do is appreciated, if the meal you worked hours on is pronounced delicious or not, if the floor that you so laboriously cleaned is muddied within minutes. The work you do for your children and your husband is fruit, we are called to bear fruit. Read this quote from Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic.

"God does not tell us to necessarily be strategic with our fruit. We do not need to know what will happen to the fruit.[...] What happens to all of our fruit is not our problem. That doesn't mean that we are not to care about the fruit. While it is on our branches, it is our life work. It is an offering to God, and we ought to care intensely about the quality of our fruit. But the branches are our responsibility; the ground is not.

I think that in some ways we have let our cultural admiration for efficiency get into places that it doesn't belong. Speaking for myself, sometimes I am working away on something and just cannot shake the question, 'Why am I doing this? Is this a ridiculous use of my time? Should I be doing something that matters, rather than (say) knitting a costumed mouse?' But it is very freeing to laugh at yourself--laugh when you know that "apple" you were working on may very well fall to the ground, and who cares? But the chances are good that the more fruit you make the more fruit gets used. The more you throw yourself into heavy branches, the more inviting the fruit and the more inviting the fruit, the more people it is likely to feed.

You cannot know the depth of His plan for your fruit. So throw it out there on the ground when you have no plan for its future. Waste it. Waste homemade pasta and the mess it makes on your family. Don't save cloth napkins for company only--sew a dress your daughter doesn't really need. Be bountiful with your fruit, and free with it. The only thing that you know for certain is that God will use it."

Rachel refers often here to efficiency in her discussion of fruit. I think it can also really apply to your opinion of whether or not your fruit (i.e. your life's work) will be appreciated. Do I hold back from making brownies this afternoon because I don't think my family will appreciate them? Do I grudgingly pick up after my husband or put away the laundry because I know he may not even notice when he gets home from work? Do I feel discontent or pout because no one noticed how much work it was to clean the entire house today?

The thing is, it doesn't matter if what I do here in my home for my family is ever recognized. I am responsible for the fruit I bear, the quality of the fruit and my own attitude while I do it. That does matter, every action, project, meal, or play time is used by God- very likely to shape and sanctify me more into the image of Christ.

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