Standing in line at the grocery store one winter’s eve, tears of shame fell down my cheeks. Stress had gotten the better of me and when I left the house, I’d slammed the front door shut, announcing my departure.
And that slam? It came after an angry verbal tirade about sharing a house with five people who never clean up their messes. Why does everyone treat me like a maid? How can I do everything? How can we have a Bible study at all, if I’m the only one picking up?
I love our Bible Study, but so many times I questioned the wisdom of hosting and teaching a Bible study in our home. The stress of preparing and the sinning that went on in the hours before the study were downright hypocritical, and I knew it. The irony of teaching Biblical principles after I’d lost my temper with my own family multiple times that day, was never lost on me.
Fortunately, my husband is the usual teacher, while I sit in shame, hoping my family will forgive me yet again.
So there I was in line that night, groceries in my cart, the Bible Study already two hours behind me. Remembering my sins, I fought the tears, feeling miserable and confused.
Lord, you know my heart. I want to be a loving wife and mother, and yet the stress is so intense that sometimes, I just snap. What can I do differently, Father? Show me.
In 1 Timothy 5:14, it says that women are to guide the house.
1 Timothy 5:14
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
Husbands are the spiritual leaders and we are to respect and obey them, but the affairs of the household? They are a women’s responsibility to manage, and it’s not a job to take lightly.
Children must be trained, discipled, fed, clothed. There are dishes to do, toilets to scrub, socks and underwear to be put away in drawers. There are meals to plan, shopping to do, bills to pay, and paperwork to process.
And that’s not all. Extracurricular activities scream at us too. If you’re an average American, there are sports teams to work around, committee meetings to attend, and cupcakes to make. There’s that sweet family next door who needs a meal after surgery or childbirth.
They can all be good choices, but we can’t have everything. If we follow after Jesus, we can’t be the average American. He calls us to be set apart, which sometimes means making tough, lonely choices.
How do we discern right from wrong in our scheduling, so we can guide the house with a gentle and quiet spirit, rather than with a lion’s ferocity? What does Jesus want from us?
He wants our worship. He wants us to have no other gods before Him. When we heed this, our affairs fall in line accordingly.
Keeping up with the Joneses in any sense, whether financially or in extracurricular activities, is always a mistake. The world and Facebook push us to create a certain image, and it often involves having it all: perfect kids, perfect house, perfect vacation, and perfect job.
The stress of creating and maintaining an image robs us not only of time, but of joy, too. The sin involved? It’s pride, disguised but ugly. Pride makes us follow the world’s cues, instead of the Lord’s. And fear is there too. We’re afraid of standing alone, of not fitting in.
When I feel like stress is out of control in my home, I turn to the Bible to check my priorities, because the tone at home is my responsibility, as guider of the household. Am I spending time in the Word and in prayer? Am I leaving my burdens at the Lord’s feet? Am I spending enough time at home? Is the house a mess because I’m failing to train the children, or because I’m guilty of idleness? Am I employing sound organizational techniques and sticking with them? Am I spending wisely, buying only what we need, and purging the clutter regularly? Am I making meal plans and chore plans and following through?
A well-run home and a gentle and quiet spirit are not out of our reach, for the Lord never leaves us alone. When he commands, he supports. Here is what I’ve learned:
1. Focus on God first, then family; create a devotional plan.
2. Pray for wisdom and guidance.
3. Confess sins.
4. Don’t blame others for your shortcomings.
5. Learn to say no…to extracurriculars, to frivolous Facebook, to any time wasters.
6. If an activity can’t build God’s Kingdom, consider cutting it out; keep the activities that focus on loving the Lord and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
7. Pray for a Titus 2 woman to come into your life…one who will pray for you, teach you, and hold you accountable.
8. Cut your schedule down considerably while you’re still developing your organizational skills. Show obedience in the small things first, and then expand your schedule appropriately.
9. Jesus spent all his time with his disciples, except when he was in private prayer. Discipling is hard work requiring long hours. The Lord wants us to invest ourselves in our children’s hearts, teaching Christ, showing His love.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates
10. Know the true source of joy. It isn’t Facebook likes or accolades the world gives. It isn’t even family, children, or holiday get-togethers, though all of those do bless. Communion with God’s Holy Spirit brings joy. The only true joy. Your gentle and quiet spirit? It comes from joy within.
I hope this blesses, rather than condemns. Love to you, friends. We can do this.