I was looking through The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook in the bookstore yesterday. It looks like a wonderful resource, but I noticed something missing. No where in the book (and I just checked the Table of Contents on Amazon to be sure) is there a chapter for women who work outside the home. These women may be single, they may be married, they may be mothers. I know Southwestern Seminary employs many of them. Yet, this book has no advice, wisdom, or encouragement for those who are having to balance their homemaking with outside jobs and/or school. I understand and agree with the Biblical stance on women being homeward oriented, I can do the Greek word studies of oikourgous (homemakers). Yet, my weary heart, as a homemaker, almost full-time employee, part-time pastor’s wife, full time student, and 24/7 wife, asks – why did you leave me out of the book?
I am physically not at home enough to make the home I would wish for my husband. My heart longs to be more of, and a better homemaker, yet for now I have to choose contentment and satisfaction with the multiple roles God has given me, homemaker being just one. I know many women employed outside the home struggle with keeping up both responsibilities, since generally, in most homes, even if the wife works outside the home she’s still responsible for upwards of 70% of the cleaning/cooking, etc in the home as well as her part or full time job. What hope can you give for the heart of women who want to make a home, but either don’t have a family, or financially cannot be in their home like they want/need in order to accomplish that task?
Exhausted & Hand-tied
Dear Exhausted & Hand-tied,
Thank you for your interest in The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook. I think you will be surprised at how helpful this volume will be to any woman—single or married, with or without children and regardless of her priorities in life. Not only is it a very practical volume, but it is also well indexed so that you can access whatever information is helpful (charts on every topic from “Feminism’s Impact on the Home and Family” to “Stain Removal Guide”). A Scripture index enables you to pursue any biblical connection that is helpful to you. A wide range of women from single professionals who are pursuing various tracks, to women who without apology devote full creativity and energy to their respective homes and families. In fact, as editors, Pat Ennis and I come from different roles and priorities. I am a wife, mother, grandmother who has chosen to pour my primary energies and creativity, skills and experience, and the quantity as well as quality of my time into helping my husband, nurturing my children and grandchildren, and managing my household. These chosen responsibilities have taken me around the world and into a myriad of adventures; they are demanding as well as fulfilling. Pat Ennis is single, yet maintains a warm and hospitable home and is a distinguished professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Now, more directly to your question. You have correctly assumed that this volume is not designed to encourage women to enter the workplace if they have chosen to marry and, by this commitment, agreed to accept the responsibility of managing a household and parenting children if so blessed. Unfortunately, I cannot offer any magic formula for balancing all of these home responsibilities with employment and schooling. I fully believe that being a homemaker is worthy of being considered a full-time vocational pursuit, and that is an option I want every woman who chooses to marry have the privilege of considering. Having said that, I am not any woman’s “Holy Spirit”; I cannot make such strategic decisions for another woman. Rather, every woman, as I have had to do myself, must carefully count the cost and determine with her own husband the best decision for her family.
My passion is to be sure every woman knows that she does have a choice and that despite the sacrifices (and there are many!) and demands of making the choice to devote herself to home and family, it is worth the effort. Also, I want every woman who makes this choice to know that her worth is not based on the cultural norms of position or salary or standard of lifestyle, but on who she is in Christ and what she believes her primary assignment to be. The survival of the most valuable product, which is the next generation, depends on women who will make this decision to manage their own households and nurture their children as well as help their husbands with their freshest energies and greatest investment of creativity and training. With graduate and post-graduate degrees in theology, I have used my theological training, as well as my clerical skills, continually throughout our marriage even though I have only assumed a professorial role when requested by my husband and without remuneration so that my priority to home and family would not be side-tracked with other commitments. I certainly have not always had the comfortable salary and lifestyle I now enjoy.
May God bless your “homeward-oriented” heart and give to you and your husband answers for the challenges you are facing with multiple “part-time” jobs that evolve into more than one “full-time” profession. Lay the matter before the Lord and ask him for creativity to adjust the many things you have embraced into an over-all plan for pursuing the goals God has placed in your heart in a more manageable way. I am breathing a prayer for you and the many gifted young women like you even now. And I do believe the Christian Homemaker’s Handbook may prove to be more helpful than you think!
I remain yours in the journey,