That article about homemaking struck a nerve. Last week I wrote about Aileen and her Counter-Cultural Vocation of Homemaking, and I did so to share my gratitude that she decided to put aside other dreams to focus on caring for the home and children (and of course, for me). In retrospect, there is one more thing I wish I had said in that article, and I aim to say it today: The gospel transforms homemaking.
Now I know it’s all the Reformed rage to hitch the word “gospel” to every possible topic or issue. I find myself backing away from some of the gospel-dash-centred wording these days lest it come across as cliché. But in this case, I am perfectly comfortable with the statement that the gospel makes a world—in fact, an eternity—of difference in homemaking.
And now the part where I explain. They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. They say it is only what you do in this life that matters. They say that you need to full-out live your dash, that little line that will someday appear on your gravestone to represent the time between the day you were born into this world and the day you died out of it. And they are right. They are right to a degree.
But Christians know that the dash is deceptive. It is only the beginning. The dash matters a whole lot, and it is so very important that we spend our lives effectively stewarding our gifts, time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. (Hey, someone should write a book about that!) But the dash is just the short opening blip on a much longer line that extends to forever. While our existence has a clear beginning, it has no end. We will live until we die, and then we will live again. We will live until we die, and then we will be more fully alive than we have ever been.
And yet even Christians can slip into living as if this world is all there is, as if there is nothing beyond that short dash. The gospel transforms homemaking precisely because it assures us that we do not need to do and see and have and accomplish everything in this short life. The gospel promises life beyond—a much better, longer, and more fulfilling life.
The woman who devotes thirty or forty years of her life to homemaking—the prime of her life, that is—is choosing to let go of certain dreams and desires. Since I wrote that article I have had some very accomplished women write to say, “I gave up a great career and incredible opportunities and millions of dollars because I wanted to be there for our children.” I have had many proud husbands write to say, “My wife chose to forfeit what could have been an amazing career because she chose to raise our children.” These are genuine sacrifices. But as a believer she is not being asked to give up these things forever. Instead, she is putting them on hold. She is delaying them. She is prioritizing other things for a time.
Most Christians believe that the person who exists on the other side of the grave will be very much consistent with the person who exists on this side. She will be her still except that the presence of sin and the consequences of sin will be gone. What she loves here will very likely be what she loves there and what she does well here will very probably be what she does well there. Gifting and passion and skill on this side of the grave are undoubtedly a good indicator of gifting and passion and skill on that side of the grave.
This means that she can confidently choose to pursue being a wife and mother now, believing that she will have all of eternity to explore those other interests, talents, and passions. This means that she is not wasting them. She is not ignoring or neglecting them. She is merely choosing to prioritize other things for a time. There will be no marriage there, so her only opportunity to prioritize and perfect marriage is right now. There will be no children there, so her only opportunity to make the most of mothering is right here and right now.
If you do not believe in life after death, I understand the overwhelming desire to build a career now, because it is the only career you will ever have. I understand why you need to grab ahold of every opportunity because there will be no more opportunities beyond the ones you have today. But for the Christian, there is a forever still to come—a forever of living in this world, exploring this world, exercising dominion over this world, and glorifying God through every gift, talent, moment, passion, and opportunity. Homemaking in the light of eternity allows her to wait patiently for the forever to come.
Like I said, the gospel transforms homemaking. It transforms everything.
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