Hidden in the Home

Barefoot and pregnant. Household drudge. Enduring the stereotypes and rude remarks at the super-market when someone balks at the number of your children.

“So what do you DO with your days?” a stranger asks when you cheerfully assert that you are a stay-at-home mom.

The question itself betrays our socially-engineered belief that true value is found outside the home, and illustrates how alien the realities of domestic life are to the average person.

Some things about this role of homemaker come easier to some than others, I realize. Gratefulness for my own dear mama – who took great effort to develop homemaking skills and dreams in her five daughters – daily inspires my own endeavors as a housewife and mother. But such examples are rare in this day and age, and the God-ordained role of womanhood is misunderstood, resisted and even penalized in a culture that figures the standard of living for the average household based on two-incomes.

She that chooses to stay at home with her babies does have rough seas to navigate. She must seek to stretch paychecks from month-to-month, fighting comparisons to her more “successful” career-oriented college friends; she is perpetually overlooked in the hiddenness of the home, receiving little appreciation from both children and society for her sacrifice on their behalf; she longs for sophisticated mental stimulation which the company of toddlers cannot supply; her routine only fluctuates when a child spikes a fever or goes to a birthday party; she feels perpetually sleep-deprived as she dutifully rises each night to feed an infant or comfort a child from a bad dream; her housework is dull and difficult to maintain amid habitual spills and messes…and on and on. There’s never a problem finding something to complain about, is there?

Here’s a woman that articulated her complaints quite well. Her name is Elizabeth Cady Stanton – mother of seven children and the one some consider the founder of the feminist movement (convening the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848), who writes the following in a letter to a fellow activist:

“Oh, how I long for a few hours of leisure each day. How rebellious it makes me feel when I see Henry going about where and when and how he pleases. He can walk at will through the whole wide world or shut himself up alone, if he pleases, within four walls. As I contrast his freedom with my bondage, and feel that because of the false position of women, I have been compelled to hold all my noblest aspirations in abeyance in order to be a wife, a mother, a nurse, a cook, a household drudge, I am fired anew and long to pour forth from my own experience the whole long story of woman’s wrongs.”  *

[Catch her precise pick of words: long, leisure, rebellious, bondage, false position, compelled (read, “forced”), abeyance (read, “poor me”), etc.]

In the midst of the noise, activity, babies and getting supper on the table, the greatness of what we do is often lost. Like Ms. Stanton, thoughts enter our minds which make it feel like (the seeming unending task of child-rearing and domestic toil) stand at full-frontal war against the dreams which are really successful, noble and fulfilling. If only she could see her womanly role from God’s perspective, for the glorious call it truly is. If only she understood that the core issues of her joyless existence were not physical, emotional or circumstantial; they were spiritual.

The serpent still whispers his lies into the minds of the daughters of Eve.

He fills her mind with vanity and her heart with the lust for more. More control, more power, more beauty, more influence… and suddenly, all things simple, all things home and hidden seem less. The irony is that the more “greatness” she grasps for, the more “success” she tries for, the less she feels fulfilled.

Thankfully, heaven measures greatness and success much differently than does this fallen world. When the world expected a political figurehead of power, heaven sent a peasant-born babe instead; instead of a white horse, they got a dumb, belly-dragging donkey; looking for a wealthy king, He came poor in worldly goods and poor in spirit; the world looked for someone they could esteem, but Jesus came of no reputation.

God in His wisdom chose to bring forth the greatest success story of all history, the nobility of heaven, the fulfilled dream of God Himself…through a young woman, a simple homemaker, a virgin bride to be the mother of His Son.

She who stays at home has the same opportunity – to raise little sons and daughters of the Most High who will go forth representing His love and declaring His plan to the world, and who will one day take their place by His side as co-heirs reigning with Christ – and she will be rewarded.

God’s promise to us is this:

“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:10-12).

The woman, as a domestic housewife and mother, has a unique position in the kingdom of God to receive great glory in the age to come as she embraces her God-ordained feminine glory to be joyfully hidden in the home…

…for we are not hidden to heaven.

*My nightstand has lately been occupied with this very thoughtful, provoking read: “Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World”. The author gives a very thorough overview of the feminist movement from a solidly biblical frame of reference, and I have been inspired anew to engage the world in the fullness of God’s intention as a woman.