She eyed me arrogantly as we spoke–an old acquaintance from my high school youth group.
Her life was going splendidly; she was being promoted at work, making money, feeling important.
There I stood; two tiny children in tow, my belly big with a new life, my clothes shabby, my hair out of style.
But I didn’t feel small, and I didn’t need to compete. In her mind she had won some sort of contest; she had proved her worth and my worthlessness. In my mind she earned only a place of pity, a feeling that shocked me when I realized that it was genuine.
Here I am, 27 years and 12 more children later, and I continue to consider myself to be the privileged one. My clothes are still shabby, my hair is still a strange creation most days, and I am still sitting at home doing the laundry and teaching little girls to read, and yet I have more than working all of these years could have ever bought me.
For one thing, I have learned to wait, and to trust, and to love people even when they cause me “inconvenience.”
I have learned to keep walking when my knees are buckling, to keep on my knees when all seems hopeless, to look up instead of looking inward.
There have been days when the darkness enveloped my heart and kept me from breathing, but more days when I had breathing room that my working sisters could only wish for.
I dreamed about family, and as I released my dream in a heap of unmet expectations, God gave me the desires of my heart.
They say time is money, but there is not enough money in the world that could pay for the massive amounts of time I have had; time taken back from a system that wants to rob us of the profound and substitute it with the easy, the shallow, and the mediocre.
Invention and innovation have been my patrons and closest companions, and necessity my tutor. The working of my creative muscles has yielded heirlooms, not the kind that rust and gather dust, but the kind that are living and can grow with each generation.
Women of the past took all of these blessings for granted. It wasn’t a strange thing to be able to welcome children home for school, or to be available when a grown child just needed someone to talk to, at any time of the day or night. They didn’t consider it a strange thing to practice thrift for the sake of their children, or to keep dinner warm for a man who was working his heart out for his family.
They didn’t get together to pass along office gossip, or complain about their jobs; they passed recipes and patterns (and a bit of family news) and spent hours sewing quilts for their families. They shared a common language of what it meant to be a nurturing mother and homemaker; in kindness, propriety, and self-sacrifice.
They were not bound, they were not oppressed, or missing out on anything that the world could possibly offer them.
They were following God’s advice, even though at times the road was long and difficult, and many may have been sorely tempted to give up and give in, but their lives proved over and over that His ways are best.
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.