Advice for the Newly Joyfully at Home

Posted By on August 4, 2010

I used to have nightmares about mannequins when I was a little girl.

Seriously. They creeped me out. No matter where the dream started, I always ended up running from an army of mannequins, gasping for air as I finally made it to Daddy’s office, tentatively calling out his name, my eyes pinned to the back of his office chair. He’d swivel around in my direction to reveal that he, too, had become one of them: a stick thin, ivory, plastic figure, expressionless in a really menacing way, stiff in a threatening fashion.

I laugh now when I walk through a mall, and Trey nudges my arm and teases me that -just like they used to in my dream -the mannequins are going to ease their heads in my direction, bending towards me in lockstep, ready to attack.

I’d like to see Freud dissect that one!

Okay, so you might be thinking that starting out an article with childhood terrors is a little bit awkward… especially when I’m confessing my irrational preschool fear of mannequins. But 1) you have to admit, when you think about me backing away from faceless dummies in department store windows, it’s pretty hilarious, and 2) it really lends itself well to the point of this post:

Have you ever heard a talk on biblical womanhood and felt utterly inadequate? In the face of conversation about anti-feminism, have you ever wondered just how anti feminism you should be (should you spurn education entirely because you don’t want to devote your time to a four-year university? Should you become incompetent and directionless because you don’t want to be aggressively independent? Should you only talk about crafts, babies, or Bible stories because you don’t want to pursue a profession, etc.)? If you decided to turn your heart towards home -to embrace biblical femininity where the culture is sometimes likely to scoff at it -did you, perhaps, over-correct your thinking, doffing one stereotype (the power-suit wearing, man-hating, married-to-her job success story) for another (the stereotypical Suzie homemaker, apron in one hand, sewing project in the other, and little interest in much else)?

How many of you think biblical womanhood is about becoming an expressionless dummy who is good for ornamental window-dressing, and little else?

I get so many emails during my break from young ladies who say that they have spent their whole lives in pursuit of the cultural ideal (college, then career), only to realize that they now desire something completely different: they want a godly husband who will lead them in the ways of the Lord -and they want children who they can raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord -they want to be wholly committed to their families, forsaking every other dream for the beautiful calling.

And I say a hearty, Amen! followed by a very sincere, Be careful.

Be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of becoming a stereotype of biblical womanhood that has nothing to do with using your specific gifts for God’s glory, and everything to do with developing gifts to please man: “All the really popular daughters do this, so this is what I need to learn to love, too” vs. “This is where my gifts and passions lie -how can I use them within the context of my home to bless my families and others?” Yes, there is an element of stretching ourselves to learn those things which would help our homes run smoothly, even if we are not necessarily inclined to them (for me, it was cooking; when I first stepped into the kitchen, I was a basket case); however, there are also those things which is does us little good to yearn after (Suzie is an accomplished harpist who has played for ten years -yes, that will bless her family, but you’re twenty-one, and can’t take harp lessons… what are you good at?) Psalm 139 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made -what things has the Lord given us so that we can use for his purposes?

Be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming so artsy and craftsy that you aren’t developing useful skills. There is nothing wrong with learning how to knit pretty scarves; I did it myself one summer. However, learning how to knit a scarf, crochet a doily, or serve tea, English country style, should not overtake learning how to balance a checkbook. Teach a child to read. Dedicate your time to your own studies. Serve other women in the church. Help your mother with the practical, day to day responsibilities. Aid your father when you are able. I remember one of my friends once told me that he wasn’t looking for a girl who could crotchet, and had never met another man who was, but he really hoped she’d be able to engage him intellectually. Something to think about, definitely. The Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t merely ornamental: she had useful talents (Proverbs 31:10-31).

Be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming so “feminine” that you lose your joy in Christ. I put feminine in quotes because we tend to manufacture a stereotype of femininity that really has nothing to do with the biblical pattern of a helpmeet who is her husband’s aid and counterpart. I have seen some joyless girls pursuing “femininity,” plastering on false smiles and playing a part instead of truly loving and serving the brethren and sincerely seeking growth and heart-change in Christ. Study the Lord’s Word for his standard for his women (you will not find it written that we all have to enjoy teas, that each of us has to notice the others’ fashion sense, or that the only thing we can talk about is domesticity), and strive to display a genuine love for him and his people (Matthew 17:38-40), not that love which would garner the most attention. If you find yourself floundering, losing your joy in Christ… evaluate yourself: am I doing things just to please others? Am I trying to play a part just to fit in? Or am I truly being sanctified by the Lord, conformed to his image, not my own fantasy? Biblical womanhood, at its core, is merely embracing Eve’s purpose (Genesis 2:18): serving those around you with the gifts the Lord has given you; making a home, yes… or being willing to pull up your sleeves and build a wall like the women in Nehemiah’s day. Taking joy in the raising of children, you bet… and being able to get dirty chasing them in the backyard. Beautifying, you bet. But also possessing deeper traits than mere beauty: intelligence -competence -true joy (Nehemiah 8:10)

Be careful not to fall into an effort/rewards notion of biblical womanhood. Be careful that you’re not just embracing biblical womanhood for the husband. Because, if the only reason you want to embrace femininity is to find yourself in that perfect man’s embrace, you will, 1) find yourself doing extra-biblical gymnastics to get the attention of the young men the Lord puts in your path (whether you’re fluttering your eyelashes, using your mom to tell his mother just how amazing you’ll be as a wife, or cultivating a relationship with his sister in case he notices you), and 2) you will find yourself battling contentment and disillusionment the longer the Lord plans for you to be single. Remember the goal here, and in every season, is to glorify God. And so whether or not he places a husband in your path, you still have a purpose beyond matrimony, and your view in all that you do should not be to “rope a man” -it should be to please the Lord.

Be careful that you’re not just holding the line. Be careful that you aren’t just biding your time for a husband. Be careful that, instead of storing up your treasures in heaven, you aren’t storing up your treasures in your hopechest. Devote your times to the things that will serve others in the here and now. Devote your time to becoming a well-rounded woman so that you can be a good steward of the gifts and the time that the Lord has given you. Devote yourself wholly to God. I am not saying that you shouldn’t prepare for marriage -but do so within the context of keeping your eyes trained on the goal that always supersedes it: the glory of God (Psalm 37:4).

Be careful that your convictions are your own. I get emails about everything from tank tops to first kisses to alcohol consumption. I answer every email this way: “I don’t care what you think of me, so you shouldn’t care what I think of you.” And then I delete it and say it in a nicer way: ladies, I write for your encouragement, it’s true; and I love that you like reading what I have to say. But search the Scriptures and come to your own convictions. Don’t take everything I or anyone else says at face value -and don’t fall-back on my words or anyone else’s to ease your conscience when the Holy Spirit convicts you. And don’t double-check with me to make sure your convictions are fine. Move forward boldly and joyfully in Christ, submitting yourself to his Word and the authorities he has put in your life.

In short, sisters, welcome home. It is an exciting, challenging place to find yourself, is it not? Keep busy, will you? And embrace each new challenge with joy and vigor! Don’t lose yourself in a stereotype, okay? Look to Christ and use the gifts and traits he’s given you for his glory! And don’t crane your neck towards the future, all right? Live full-heartedly for Christ in the here and now. Be in genuine pursuit of his will. Earnestly seek to love and serve his people.

That’s my advice to you… in a nutshell. ;-)


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About The Author

Jasmine is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham's seven children. She is a homeschool graduate who enjoys studying and writing about areas as varied as theology, philosophy, political science, art, film and culture. She is also an aspiring author who currently lives at home where she continues to assist her father in his research, is completing a degree in English literature, has written a book called, Joyfully at Home based on her old blog by the same title and is blessed to assist her mother with the care of her younger siblings. You can now find her rambling occasionally at All She Has to Say

Comments

5 Responses to “Advice for the Newly Joyfully at Home”

  1. Rachel says:

    This is one of the best posts on this subject I’ve read in awhile. I see so much out there about how to dress, crafts for hope chests, hairstyles, natural beauty, etc. They’re all well done and fascinating, but I sit back and wonder, “Where’s the substance? Where are the critical parts of being a woman of Christ?”

    This post puts it beautifully. How you dress, how you present yourself and act should all be an outward reflection of an inward state. That inward state being a deep relationship with Christ, which is the most important thing. When you’re just copying you lose the whole meaning of that personal relationship and it becomes more about ‘fitting in’ in a way that God may or may not want from you. Knowing what God wants comes from that relationship being first.

    Beautiful post, and I liked how the mannequins tied in. :-)

  2. ladyj says:

    I know you wrote this primarily for unmarried ladies, but what an encouragement for us married ones as well. I’ve struggled mightily (but with the Lord’s good grace) to run a joyful home for the last 15 years. So many days have been wasted because I was down about my lack of “craftiness”, comparing myself against the God-given talents of at least FIVE+ different women while completely ignoring the gifts and abilities the Lord has given me! Write on dear lady, keep reminding us to “seek the Lord while he may be found.”
    Jennifer

  3. Mrs. Eva H. says:

    I LOVE this article, Miss Jasmine. One of your best yet, I think. I often rail against the cookie cutter image of Biblical femininity, even though big parts of me probably fit in the ‘mold’ other parts don’t and these parts and gifts have also been given by Christ.

  4. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. ” It’s so easy to forget and begin to live your life according the the word of the women around you instead of the Word of God. I enjoyed this article greatly as this is something I have to walk through often reminding myself!!! There are days that I fail to bring God glory because I’ve become consumed with what others are expecting. I have to repent and begin again living to bring Him glory. I have a feeling this will be repeated for many days to come in many different ways, but I thank God for the lessons I’ve learned through it so far. I’m not where I want to be, but I thank God I’m not where I used to be in this journey!!!

  5. katehobs says:

    Thank you for writing this encouraging piece. As a mother of four girls I have recently become aware that I need to recover from my feminist ideas. I have always believed it was important for children to have a mom at home as their primary caregiver, but beyond that my role as a homemaker and help-meet was very muddy in my mind. I did not have a christian home growing up and had no support in my faith. God blessed me richly with a husband who loves and follows God and I am truly thankful. Thank you for painting a picture of the diversity that can exist in and still be biblical womanhood. I am finding I am not “suzy-homemaker” and have been discouraged as to how I will guide my young girls and teach them what biblical womanhood looks like if I don’t know myself. Thank you for your example and your insight.

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