Today at my church’s mom’s group, we had one of our pastors give us a pep talk and boy let me tell you, God had the message on an arrow straight to my heart! His theme was, focusing on the main things. As a mother of young ones, sometimes I feel like I’m always a day late and a dollar short in the cleaning, meal preparing, busy work tasks of making a home. I have been feeling really defeated lately, frustrated at why can’t I get it all done, just sort of grumpy about it all most of the time! But God had encouragement for me in Pastor C’s message today and it was this, “by whose standards are you living? By what expectations are you measuring your “success” as a homemaker?” My pastor reminded us that God clearly lays out some priorities for us in scripture and here are the top two: Loving Him, Loving others as ourselves (Husband first, then children, then the family of God, then those who are lost). Nowhere in this list do we find “Martha Stewart house pristinely clean at all times” or “perfectly fit body outfitted in the latest clothes and hairstyle”. Those priorities come from our culture, not from Him. And yet it hit me this morning as I was listening to the message, these are things that most often have me feeling inadequate and defeated. I tell my children, “just a minute” about 100 times a day as I scurry around to clean a house that never gets fully clean. It’s like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing! Pastor C assured us that this doesn’t mean we neglect the tasks of cleaning and taking care of ourselves, what it means is that we don’t push the more important things aside to accomplish them. He also encouraged us in the way we greet our husbands when they come home. He asked us if we barrage our men with complaints about how hard the day was and all we didn’t get done and need help with or if we focus on loving and welcoming him home first and simply asking for help instead of playing the poor me card to earn his sympathy. Ouch! Boy do I do this more than I’d like to admit. As I was thinking about it today, it’s like I feel the need to paint a sad story of my day in order to excuse the fact that I didn’t get everything done according to MY list. When really, Travis knows what I’m facing, he knows that we are in a weary season of our lives and that I can’t be super woman. But I think what it is is that I WANT to be, so badly! My own desire to be perfect at everything puts me in a grouchy, complaining, defeated mood and it’s just sin, plain and simple. When I am focusing on the “main” things, as pastor C put it, those other things will be seen with the right perspective.
Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
My children won’t remember how clean the house was or wasn’t, but they will remember the time I spend with them, doing things together, laughing, enjoying them, reading the Word together and praying. But if I’m not careful they will also remember a mama who’s constantly stressing about all she has to accomplish and how she made them feel like they were always in the way of those accomplishments. So what’s the balance? Well, here’s a list of what I think homemaking is and isn’t. I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but these are what ring true at the moment:
1. Homemaking IS creating a place of refuge and peace for our families, which I think includes a certain level of cleanliness and organization. Homemaking IS NOT, a perfectly clean and organized home at all times at the expense of lost quality time with the very family we are trying to create a refuge for.
2. Homemaking IS living by right priorities with our time and energy, which can mean limiting or eliminating those things that threaten to take the tops spots. Homemaking IS NOT holding ourselves to impossible standards or comparing ourselves to other moms who are gifted differently.
3. Homemaking IS filling up our tanks with time with Jesus and His Word, praying throughout the day for His strength and perspective which will overflow into our families. Homemaking IS NOT trying to do it on our own strength. Our standards and priorities never work like His do and we can do nothing well on an empty tank.
4. Homemaking IS preparing healthy, tasty food for our families. Homemaking IS NOT nightly gourmet meals. Gourmet chefery never makes an appearance on God’s priority list, only on the food network’s.
5. Homemaking IS refueling ourselves with retreats of rest and joyful activities (the most important being time with the Lord). Homemaking IS NOT feeling entitled to selfish pursuits or allowing ourselves to be completely derailed by laziness and selfish hobbies.
6. Homemaking IS having a plan. Homemaking IS NOT feeling completely derailed and defeated when daily life doesn’t go according to it. God’s plans are always better than ours, even when they make us feel uncomfortable.
7. Homemaking IS including the whole family in cleaning and the work that needs to be done, expecting that perfection will not happen, but pride in contributing will. Homemaking IS NOT feeling like you have to do it all without asking for help. Everyone can do something , don’t play the poor martyr by doing it all.
8. Homemaking IS practicing hospitality. Homemaking IS NOT needing a clean home before you do it. Be a Mary and not a Martha.
I would love to hear your additions to this list and what God is teaching you about focusing on the main things. Sisters, we need each other! Not the perfect façade we may want others to see, but the real us that knows fancy words and appearances will never get us to the good stuff of true sisterhood.