Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Joy: Some Common Problems and Solutions for the Homemaker Part II
Note: These problems are common to all people. But, I am writing about them from the point of view of a woman, particularly from the point of view of a woman who is creating a home.
1. Problem: Becoming bitter or disheartened when faced with trials, temptations, and other difficulties. Possible roots of this problem: Having the false belief that if we just have enough faith, we won't have any problems in this life. Thus, we are tempted to lose faith when the way gets hard. (Matthew 17:24-26; Romans 5:1-8) Following Jesus because we think it will make this life easier rather than out of gratitude for what he did to save us by the cross. Forgetting the hope we have through his resurrection. (John 6:22-40, 2 Corinthians 5:20:21) Selfishness, pride, fear, and ingratitude. Possible ways this problem might manifest itself in our lives: Complaining. Worrying and fretting. Folding under pressure, rather than persevering and overcoming. Focusing on our problems to the extent that we don't see the many blessings God has given us; finding it hard to praise God in the midst of a trial. Becoming overwhelmed. Failing to comfort others in their need, because we are tied up in our own difficulties. Losing our heavenly perspective. Possible solutions: Look to Jesus; trust God. Pray about everything. Leave your worries in God's hands. If the situation calls for you to act; act in faith. If the situation calls for you to wait; wait in faith. Remember that Christ always walks with us and that he has promised He will never let us be tempted more than we can bear. (Psalm 23, I Corinthians 10:1-13) Study what the New Testament has to say about suffering and its role in our present lives; study heaven, especially Revelation 20:11 through Revelation 22:21; take up your cross daily and follow Jesus (Matthew 17:24-26, Luke 14:26-25, Galatians 2:20); study Jesus' faith; study how Paul dealt with trials; seek guidance from someone who overcame a trial similar to yours; ask someone to pray for you and with you.
2. Problem: Procrastination, which can lead to a depressed feeling. Possible root: Laziness, fear, selfishness, lack of knowledge about time management. Ways this can manifest itself in our lives: Failing to fulfill our responsibilities; being a poor steward of the time and resources which God has entrusted to our care; distracting ourselves with "busywork" instead of tackling more important things; being so afraid of making mistakes or of failing all together that we don't even try (Matthew 25:25-27); neglecting our family; neglecting service to those outside of our family; neglecting our own health and appearance; getting so behind that we become overwhelmed; focusing on how hard or repetitive a task may be instead of the benefits of completing the task; letting our personal devotion to God drift away; getting to the end of the day and wondering where our time went (Note: This is not always the result of procrastination, but it can be); leaving a job to the last minute and rushing through it; failing to plan our work well; planning but not sticking to the plan; not working when we can and when we should and, thus, not being able to rest and enjoy life when it's time to rest; feeling dissatisfied, rather than experiencing the satisfaction of work well done; Sometimes, a new homemaker may be so used to the structure of her parents' home, college, or a job that she gets stuck simply because she does not know how to order her own day. Possible solutions: Seek God's help in overcoming procrastination and any root sins behind this trait. Rather than paralyzing yourself with fear that you won't do a good job, focus on doing your best, with God's help, and let God take care of the results. Set a timer and work for fifteen minutes, no matter what. Sometimes, just the act of doing something -- anything -- will overcome your inertia. If you are too rigid, learn to be flexible to God's leading. If you are too lackadaisical, plan your work and stick to your plan. If something interrupts you, get right back to your plan as soon as you've taken care of the interruption; remind yourself of the benefits of work well done; allow yourself some time to stop and reflect on the joy of a clean house or a work project that is completed; If you find certain domestic chores to be dull, learn all you can about the art and the science of homemaking. Learn the chemistry of cooking, for example. Or, study why certain cleaners work for certain things. Seeing your work from that standpoint can help you appreciate what it is that you are doing. Also, challenge yourself to find better ways of doing things, and blog about your domestic experiments; learn about time management in the home.
3. Problem: Failure to grow as a person, which can dampen your enthusiasm. Possible roots: Narrowing your focus too exclusively to your home and family or on an outside job. Also, neglecting your relationship to the Lord. Or, just simply being so busy that it's difficult to find time to learn and experience new things. Possible manifestations: Discovering that your faith has become dull. Finding that you have pulled back from serving the Lord in some areas. Realizing that there are parts of your life that you need to re-surrender to Christ. (Revelation 2:1-7) Becoming bored and burnt out after keeping a home for many years or after doing a certain job for many years. Feeling that you are boring, whether or not others see you that way. Feeling mentally sluggish and scattered. (I'm not talking about unavoidable changes related to aging or disease, but the results of letting your mind drift wherever it will). Allowing your appearance to become sloppy. Feeling that something is missing. Finding that you and your husband have fallen into a rut in your marriage. Daydreaming. Possible solutions: Seek God with all of your heart, mind, and soul. Those who stay close to the Lord can't help but grow. Do something for the Lord that takes faith and that makes you step out of your comfort zone. Study Jesus for six months, and fall in love with Him -- for the first time or again and again.
Also, pick one new topic -- such as photography or architectural styles -- that you'd like to learn more about. Check out books from the library; listen to tapes about that subject; talk to people who are experts in the area. Or, take a class in the subject. For example, if you've always wanted to learn to play the piano, take lessons. Learn another language. Even if you devote only an hour a week to the study of a new topic, that's OK. Think how much you will have learned by the end of a year, if you only keep at it!
Today's sensational, round-the-clock news coverage means that we can become overloaded with a steady diet of all that's wrong with the world. I don't recommend that anyone stay glued to CNN or to FOX News. But, you might want to take just a little time each week to catch up on what is happening in the world. This will help you to follow discussions of current events, as well as to make informed decisions about certain issues. More importantly, you will discover people and events to pray about.
Practice hospitality. By having people into your home, especially people whom you don't know well, you can learn new things. Ask questions about their interests; draw them out in wholesome conversation. Your husband will probably find this enjoyable, and your children will learn new things in the process, as well. And, you will have made an enjoyable time for your guests, as well.
Remember, as your husband moves through life, he, too, learns new things and has new experiences. Draw him out in conversation, as well. Don't take him for granted. Learn more about his business or his job. Take up a hobby he enjoys, even if it's one that you don't find to be interesting at first. Stretch yourself a bit.
4. Problem: Materialism, which can stir up dissatisfaction in your heart Possible roots: Greed; ingratitude; lack of faith in God's provision; As women, it is part of our job to be keeper and steward of many material things. If we are not careful, we can get too caught up in this side of keeping a home. Ways this can manifest itself:
Being discontent with how God (and our husband) has provided for us; forgetting that everything we own comes from God and belongs to God; forgetting that we are merely stewards of God's resources; family quarrels over heirlooms or money; expecting as a young couple to live at the same standard of living that it took decades for the couple's parents to achieve; feeling that the wife must work outside the home in order to have "the right house" or "the right car"; letting our culture shape our financial expectations, rather than surrendering our finances to God; not having the faith to give sacrificially; hoarding; conversely, spending too much now and not saving for an emergency or for our children's future; finding more comfort in the things we can experience through our senses, rather than in the Lord; failing to stick to a budget; getting into debt; gambling money away; feeling burdened by possessions you thought you'd enjoy; feeling that you are spending too much of your life maintaining possessions; Possible solutions: Ask God's help in overcoming materialism. Study what the Bible has to say about stewardship, greed, and giving. Keep a list of things you're grateful for. Read Luke 14:33; memorize Matthew 6:18-34; with your husband, ask someone in the church who is good with money to help you set up a budget; as a family, visit a charity or mission in a third world country; as a family, do something for the homeless or for the ill; learn the principles of sound money management; do the best you can with what you have; keep your house neat and clean even if it's not the home of your dreams; teach your children how to be good stewards with you of your home and possessions; If, however, the children accidentally break or damage something -- even something to which you are very sentimentally attached -- remember that the children are more important than the thing; use your home for hospitality; pare down your possessions so that you are not overwhelmed by clutter; also, think about what will happen when you die. Will you leave behind a lot of papers and junk for your children to wade through? If so, they may find this task to be very difficult -- both on a physical level and on an emotional one. How much better it will be if you keep your house in a way that your heirs can quickly identify what they want to keep and can easily dispose of the rest. In the same vein, keep your finances and your will in order, and make sure your executor, your children, and a designated guardian for your children, if they are young, know exactly where these things are. It's nice to know that you are leaving things in good order for your loved ones.
5. Problem: Basing your security on your external appearance, which can lead to insecurity and discontent. Possible roots: Pride, relying on self instead of God; or simply being influenced by our looks-conscious culture. Ways this can manifest itself in our lives: Feeling insecure around other women who are younger and/or prettier; manipulating our husbands with our looks; conversely, not taking the trouble to be lovely for our husbands; spending too much money and time on clothing and personal maintenance (There is no legalistic limit here; it's a question of the heart) ; going to the opposite extreme and refusing to look pretty, feminine or fashionable; being uncomfortable with the fact that you do have God-given beauty; dreading certain birthdays; secretly hoping that men other than our husbands will do double takes when they see how pretty we are; dressing and conducting ourselves immodestly; fantasizing about some imaginary ideal man who is always swept away by our blinding beauty; making snap judgments about others based on their appearance, without getting to know them; being miserable as the inevitable signs of aging catch up with us
Possible solutions: Pray; read all of the passages in the Bible that refer to the godly woman's appearance, as well as Song of Songs; keep yourself fresh and lovely, but without going overboard; adjust your style to your age in life; yet, don't use age as an excuse to be dowdy or slovenly; cultivate the inner loveliness that transcends physical appearance; study God's love for you and base your ultimate security on that; Remember that pretty really is as pretty does; look for an older godly woman whose inner loveliness shows itself and imitate her faith; be a joy to your husband during your intimate times together.
Coming soon -- Part III