Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's Not a Feminist Thing

            I was listening to a Christian speaker today who was talking about feminism and about how women have been taught to fear or be discontent with traditional roles.  And I was thinking about all that I have written about my anxiety and “depression” as I am struggling to keep a house clean and raise kids and feel like I am doing a good job at anything.  And I realized that someone might think that I am a sounding like a feminist, that I am unhappy at home in a traditional role.  Someone might think that I must be unhappy being a stay-at-home mom, that I would be more fulfilled if I shed the old-fashioned role of “woman in the house raising kids” and went out and made something of myself in the world or workplace.  And so I want to clarify . . . Even though I struggle with feeling like I matter or like I can make a difference or do my job well, I am most fulfilled being a wife and mother, loving my family and raising my kids.  This is where I belong.  And I have no doubt about that!
            It’s all about “seasons of life.”  And the season I am in right now is one of raising my wonderful children.  I have a chance right now during these years that they are at home to build a strong family bond and to protect and mold their character and heart and faith.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  It’s a season of pouring myself out for them, of “living Christ” in the mission field that is closest to me right now.  My family.  My neighbors.  And I am more than content with this small role, with being nothing more than a wife and mother. 
            And yet, I still get down sometimes.  I still feel overwhelmed and like a failure.  But going out and trying to be someone to the world wouldn’t make it better.  In fact, I would feel much worse if I traded my “mother role” to be in the workplace.  Because I will not find the kind of fulfillment that I am looking for out there in the world somewhere.  Because the kind of fulfillment that I am looking for can only be found in the Lord, in knowing that I am doing what He wants me to do and that I am doing it well.  I care more about pleasing God than I do about mattering to the world.  I care more about glorifying Him as much as I can and reaching as many people for His Kingdom as possible than I do about making a name for myself. 
            But honestly, it’s hard to feel like you are making some great eternal impact when your days are spent washing dirty dishes, doing loads of laundry, reading books with young kids, and doing your best to help a child understand math.  But that’s only because I am looking at myself with human eyes.  And I know that God sees things much differently than I do.  To Him, earthly success is nothing compared to what we do for His Kingdom.  And we all can have a great impact for His Kingdom if we learn to be content with the role He gave us and to work at it with all of our strength and heart, for His glory.  Because it all matters to Him.  And so, I do not regret the struggle to be content with a small role. 
            And I think we all need to get to that place.  Whether we are doing huge things or small things, we all need to get to the point of realizing that what we are doing doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we are doing it and Who we are doing it for.  And what we have or don’t have doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we are using it, Who we are using it for, and Who is glorified with it. 
            And learning to be content with the role and the things that God has given us – learning to glorify Him no matter what – can’t be accomplished if we are looking for fulfillment anywhere else than where God currently has us or in anything else than what God has allowed us to have.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, contentment starts now or it never starts at all.  And I think that is something that many of us – not just the feminists – have failed to grasp.  We cannot find ultimate, eternal fulfillment in any particular role or possession.  We can only find it when we learn to find God and to glorify God wherever we are - whether we are at home or in the workplace, in the mission field or bed-ridden, interacting with thousands of people or just a few.  
            My depression and anxiety and feelings of failure and such have all been a part of my journey in learning to be content, in learning to lay my desires and my fears down before God.  In learning to praise and glorify Him, no matter what.  In finding Him in the here-and-now, instead of running around and trying to find fulfillment in something else.  And for that, I am eternally grateful for the painful feelings, confusing thoughts, and difficult struggles.  I am on the right path in my spiritual life.  And I know that He is walking it with me and that He sees all I do and that I matter to Him.  And so I can be okay being “just a wife and a mother.”  This is the season I am in.  And I am embracing it fully, trying to be the best wife and mother I can be.  For His Kingdom and His glory!  Amen!  (I just wish that dishes washed themselves.  Wouldn’t that be nice?)