Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who Am I and Why Am I HERE?

When I graduated from high school, there was no doubt that I would go to college. Nobody asked me if that was what I really wanted to do or even assumed that I would choose anything different. My parents were hard working, middle class parents with high school diplomas. They proved to me every day that life would have been so much easier with a secondary education.

When I graduated from college, there was no doubt that I would get a job. Although my son was born one week before I graduated with my master's degree, I knew that at some point, I would go to work.

And I did go to work. I was blessed to have my mother in law to be a caregiver for my son while I was at work so I had minimal guilt for leaving him. And, when the time came, he started public kindergarten in our small, rural town in Northeastern Arkansas. My daughter, who came along 5 years later, stays with my mother in law as well and will start public preschool in January.

I've never felt guilt about working outside of the home. I've never felt guilty about sending my son to public school. Until now.

Recently, I have become much more aware of the unspoken battle between stay-at-home/homeschooling moms and working moms. I've heard lots of SAH moms talking about "their calling", being "fully mom, fully wife", and the advantages of homeschooling your children. But I hear very little justification from the other side. My side.

Just recently, I've started to feel guilty. But the guilt is not due to any family concerns that are calling me to stay home. (Except the fact that I am feeling pulled in a gazillion directions because my husband is working full time and is going to school full time--but this is a short term problem) The only explanation I have for my guilt is worrying about what others are saying about what their reasons are for staying at home and homeschooling. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming anyone for my guilt. But, it has got me to thinking about the justifications for my decision to send my kids to school and work outside the home.

I haven't come to any profound decisions about why I work. Sure, I feel that my job is somewhat rewarding and sometimes I feel like I might be helping somebody. But why are those people more important than my own children? Why isn't God calling me to put them first? Am I wrong?

I also realize that God has a definite plan for our lives. Often, I look back and think about the experiences I have had in the workforce. I have definitely been blessed by several Godly friends that I know God placed in my life that I would have never have encountered had it not been for working outside the home.

So whether my decisions in the past were based on selfish desires, I'm not sure. I wonder if my decisions were just made based on what I "knew"--this is what I was supposed to do. Maybe I was called by God to make those decisions. All that I know now is that I can't worry about the decisions I made in the past. At this time in my life, working is not an option either financially or personally. I have to make the best of what I've made of my life and pray that God will meet me where I am.

My goal is to become a living example of what a Christian woman looks like. No, I won't have time to teach my children the Torah or any verses in Hebrew, for that matter. But I hope to make my life a living example. I want to show my children that taking what is not mine is wrong and that giving to others is paramount. If I have to do this at Wal Mart on the way home from school or at a quick trip to the gas station or waiting in line at McDonalds because we are eating out again, then so be it.

I won't boast that my plan is the best way, because I don't know that it is. I can't even say that I have directed my decisions by a set plan. I do know that the Lord has a plan for my life and that sometimes following it seems hard. I'll just trust that He knows best.

Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

8 comments:

Andrea Spears said...

Well said! I know exactly how you feel, as I have felt (and to some extent still do feel) the way you feel. On the mornings when Kinsley says "When do you get to stay home from work again like you did this summer?" I start to question whether my decision to work while the girls are so young is a good one or not. I love my profession, and I feel like I am impacting the lives of the students at school, but am I neglecting the needs of my own children at home? It is something that is always on my mind- probably on every working mother's mind if the truth be known. Thanks for the words of hope. I know God has a plan for my family (and me) and I just have to trust in him.

KrisPT said...

I'm not a mom, (uh, probably could have left that part unsaid) and I guess I get the guilt thing. But, I have seen you work. There is no doubt in my mind that you are doing exactly what God has called you to do. I have also seen you parent and, again, I believe you are exactly where God wants YOU to be.

Teaching is not something that has to be done between 8:00 and 3:00 every day. It happens in the small moments when you teach Tate to always do his best at school, you teach Avery that hitting her cousins might not be the best example of Christ's love, and you teach Rob that you still love him despite seeing him two hours a week. The 8:00 to 3:00 plan may be exactly what God wants for some, but I don't think it's necessarily what He's called you to do.

We are all part of the body of Christ and each part must do its own job. Even if that job is teaching a kid to make the "arrgh" sound by pretending to be a pirate......

Love ya,
Kris

Amanda said...

Our beginnings sound the same. It was always expected of me to go to college and get a job. But, I also did it because I wanted to. I did pray about it "at times" and believe that God's hand was in my decisions. But, I also know that I began to feel a pull on my heart that was consistently affirmed when the kids came into the picture. It is something that I fought for a while. But, the pull stayed. It was never GUILT that drove this desire within me. I believe it is a desire that God placed within me.

All I can say is don't let guilt make you feel that you need to justify yourself to anyone. We each just need to pray for God to give us the desire for our own calling and the peace to make that decision. It just seems that the "do it my way" argument comes from the SAH/homeschooling side more than the working mother side. By saying this is my calling doesn't imply that it should be yours. If only everyone could see it that way.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from another Mothers point of view and one that is older, that we all feel guilty at times that we may have done what was best for our children. But, we do the best we can. There are many things that you are teaching your children. Right and Wrong,God, endurance, a good work ethic, helping others, loving others, loving your children even when they do wrong or make a mess. Giving them a life that they will always remember. Giving them parents that care enough to give all the love they can endure. Teaching them about a God that is awesome and loving. Raising a family is hard work. That alone in it's self is a hard job. Nothing is perfect, not our jobs, our spouses, our children, our parents, in laws but most of all we as Mothers are not perfect. But their is one thing that is always for sure...God loves us not matter what. Those children love you no matter what you do. Rob loves you no matter what and I will always, always love you not matter what!

Mom

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from another Mothers point of view and one that is older, that we all feel guilty at times that we may have done what was best for our children. But, we do the best we can. There are many things that you are teaching your children. Right and Wrong,God, endurance, a good work ethic, helping others, loving others, loving your children even when they do wrong or make a mess. Giving them a life that they will always remember. Giving them parents that care enough to give all the love they can endure. Teaching them about a God that is awesome and loving. Raising a family is hard work. That alone in it's self is a hard job. Nothing is perfect, not our jobs, our spouses, our children, our parents, in laws but most of all we as Mothers are not perfect. But their is one thing that is always for sure...God loves us not matter what. Those children love you no matter what you do. Rob loves you no matter what and I will always, always love you not matter what!

Mom

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from another Mothers point of view and one that is older, that we all feel guilty at times that we may have done what was best for our children. But, we do the best we can. There are many things that you are teaching your children. Right and Wrong,God, endurance, a good work ethic, helping others, loving others, loving your children even when they do wrong or make a mess. Giving them a life that they will always remember. Giving them parents that care enough to give all the love they can endure. Teaching them about a God that is awesome and loving. Raising a family is hard work. That alone in it's self is a hard job. Nothing is perfect, not our jobs, our spouses, our children, our parents, in laws but most of all we as Mothers are not perfect. But their is one thing that is always for sure...God loves us not matter what. Those children love you no matter what you do. Rob loves you no matter what and I will always, always love you not matter what!

Mom

Sheri said...

I'm late on my comment and you may never see it, but I had to respond. I know exactly how you feel. I also know something else...I am so thankful to God that He crossed our paths through work....you and your family have touched our hearts and lives forever. I know we don't talk or see each other anymore...but know that you have made an impact on us and we miss you all very much....

The Beaver Bunch said...

Stephanie,

Thank you for posting this. It doesn't matter where you work, what you do, or how you arrive there, all mothers feel as though they are not giving their children enough. It's such a struggle to know that you are doing all that God has equipped you to do, and then be at peace with the rest.

I also read a lot in your comments and posts that you feel guilt. God is not a God of guilt.

My understanding is that God uses guilt to convict. If we feel a conviction, then we seek His face, ask for Him to reveal to us where we need clarification or repentance. Once the repentance is done, the guilt/conviction is over.

Lingering guilt is not of God, but of Satan. He uses it to rope us in an snare us, usually in the most sensitive of areas, in this case you and your kids.

When you said, "I haven't come to any profound decisions about why I work."

In my opinion (b/c you clearly asked, ha!) I think this is something you should ask God to reveal to you. I can tell you that when He places something in your heart, it is clear. It may start as a nagging feeling, but if it continues to present itself, maybe God's trying to get your attention. If you need clarification on why you work, then ask God to make it evident.

Just as if you feel God would be calling you to another line of work (like he has your husband), pray for Him to reveal His purposes and His ways.

When Luke and I were thinking about fostering, God made it ABUNDANTLY clear the path we should take and why. But I asked Him, a lot. He continued to provide the same answer over and over and over again.

Should you work outside the home? Should you stay at home? I don't know and, frankly, it's not my business. What I do see (and hear from Amanda) is that you love your kids immensely and you love the Lord. You also are pretty stinkin' good at your job (or so I'm told). I feel confident that God is using you there for His kingdom.

Pray, pray and pray and ask God to show you WHY you are there. He will.

Then, when the guilt creeps in, as it does with all of us, tell it to GET OUT. You have no need for it, because you're exactly where God has intended you to be.