Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the value of feminine domesticity

In the modern world of people worried about being politically correct and socially acceptable, a woman living as best she can in light of Proverbs 31 is truly a diamond in the rough--quite a shock to the mediocratic populace. This is such an exceptional concept that a lady often has to endure a long bout of criticism and grueling, loaded questions when she mentions her future plans and goals. A woman who focuses her energies looking after the ways of her household should be commended; her “job” is one of the most important and noble responsibilities given to the daughters of Eve.

“Homemaking—being a full-time wife and mother—is not a destructive drought of usefulness but an overflowing oasis of opportunity; it is not a dreary cell to contain one’s talents and skills but a brilliant catalyst to channel creativity and energies into meaningful work; it is not a rope for binding one’s productivity in the marketplace, but reins for guiding one’s posterity in the home; it is not oppressive restraint of intellectual prowess for the community, but a release of wise instruction to your own household; it is not the bitter assignment of inferiority to your person, but the bright assurance of the ingenuity of God’s plan for the complementarity of the sexes, especially as worked out in God’s plan for marriage; it is neither limitation of gifts available nor stinginess in distributing the benefits of those gifts, but rather the multiplication of a mother’s legacy to the generations to come and the generous bestowal of all God meant a mother to give to those He entrusted to her care. (Dorothy Paterson)”

Aspirations to be a keeper-at-home can be quickly dashed when a young lady tells someone that what she wants to be when she grows up is a wife and mommy instead of a prestigious career woman in the workplace. Eyebrows raise, a smirk might flicker, and a barrage of questions follow. “What about your education? You’re smart and have such potential, why waste it at home? What will you do all day if you don’t have a job?” Because of the contrary opinions that she is bound to come in contact with, a future homemaker would be wise to formulate answers to these dubious arguments. A lady used to be considered accomplished if she was well versed in all the arts. Mr. Darcey says that a girl must have a working knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and modern languages, and she must learn to improve her mind through useful studies and extensive reading and she also should apply proper deportment in all situations. It takes a great woman intentional in her pursuits and broad of mind to fulfill these expectations. Though Austen’s fictional hero lived centuries ago and his list of qualifications are a bit out-dated, the modern, liberally educated woman is better prepared to fulfill her biblical calling if she has spent time preparing herself.

There are many profitable ways for a woman to occupy her time at home. Some ladies have families and that, obviously, would take up the majority of her time; mentoring, cleaning, training, baking, repairing, nurturing, teaching, sewing, guiding, befriending. Others are older and empty-nesters or have not been blest with children of their own. Their role in a Christian community would involve the Titus 2 model of helping with duties and imparting wisdom to younger or overwhelmed wives. A girl who is not married has the opulent freedom to delve into any area of study that interests her and learn all there is to know. As G.K. Chesterton says, a lady choosing to stay home opens up vast numbers of educational pursuits--the world is her oyster.

“Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests. This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.”

In the pursuit of knowledge a woman need not become an authority on all points in a given subject or live under the shadow of constant comparison. Rather than extensively studying one topic, she has the opportunity to customize and explore different fields of her education, learning what would specifically be profitable to her.

Being home-centered has more to do with the heart of a lady, than the fact that she works in, and sometimes from, the home instead of an office job, or that she logs a certain number of hours in a house each week, applies her quota of band-aids, and washes all the dishes in the sink. A woman who has a vision to be a keeper at home, a devoted mother, and a self-less wife desires to work to the best of her ability where she is needed. If the house is not tidy and laundry unfolded, but she has the heart strings of her children tied to her own and her husband is content, she has found the essence of her biblical role. Proverbs and 1 Timothy exhorts women to serve, submit, and encourage their husbands as well as care for their families. “A godly woman is one who sees her life as a mission of service. What others view as a burden, she views as a blessing and opportunity. (Christine Russell)” Ordinary tasks may seem to be repetitious or even tiresome, but when seen in the light of eternity, it is the unremarkable chores that shape the lives of others--thus making routine responsibilities extra-ordinary.

“Thank God, O women, for the quietude of your home, and that you are the queen in it. Men come at eventide to the home, but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it, blessing it. Better be there than wearing a queen’s coronet. Better be there than carrying the purse of a princess. It may be a very humble home. There may be no carpet no the floor. There may be no pictures on the wall. There may be no silks in the wardrobe, but, by your faith in God, and you cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer’s hand ever kindled. (T. Delwitt Talmage)”

Anyone could stay home, but wrapped up in the middle of the issue is the fact that a woman desires her focus to be centered on her family and running it smoothly. Called to be a help-meet to their God-given husbands, women have a huge duty to fulfill. Often the mundane, everyday chores are looked at as menial, but in truth, a homemaker works harder than almost all other career-minded individuals; there will always be cuts, burns, and bruises to kiss and doctor; dishes never stop stacking up; dust and dirt persistently pile up no matter how often the house is cleaned; souls are ever in need of guidance and cheering. Finding joy in the daily trials that face a stay-at-home mom is the simplest, yet most difficult, role a Biblically-focused woman can do; learning to treasure domesticity in all its forms.

this was an assignment, but since it has so much to do with daily life, I decided to share it here.

For further reading:

femininagirls, cinnamonrollsandbacon


ruth@gracelaced said...

Thank you for sharing this, Caity. I had not read these excerpts from Chesterton before. I find them insightful and just as true today as they were in 1910. Did you read what he said about teaching children: "Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world." Very cool.

Anonymous said...

This was really encouraging and fun, Caity. :) Thanks for sharing! I feel like I've read that Chesterton quote before.. do you remember which book it's published in?

Curtis said...

The Chesterton quote is from What's Wrong With the World. It's in the chapter entitled The Emancipation of Domesticity.

caitygirl said...

thanks the the encouraging words Mrs. Simons and Erin! and to Curtis for the reference.