May 16, 2008

The Excellent Wife - Chapter 8

I've been negligent on posting my thoughts about The Excellent Wife lately, for lots of reasons. First, there's so much information to assimilate that my brain and spirit just can't seem to process it all in time for a weekly post. Second, it's tough for me to stick to a schedule and post on a certain day each week.

At first, I wasn't going to respond to this chapter because Martha Peace really rattled my chains. I work outside the home, and have since before CJ was born. I know that I am exactly where the Lord has called me to be. He's shown that to me time and time again. Though I will say that working outside the home was made easier because CJ's caregiver was a Christian woman who is a member of our church family. Having Mrs. G was a blessing I never took for granted.

I'm good at my job, but I am not defined by it (in fact, I rarely discuss my job with anyone other than R). I enjoy working, but it is not my primary source of satisfaction or joy. My job does not come before my family, and my employer understands and respects that. I realize I am blessed in this regard, as well.

There are many reasons Christian mothers choose to work outside the and otherwise. I think Peace nearly excludes the possibility of having a valid reason to work outside the home. I felt her perspective leaned a little on the legalistic side, and quite honestly found myself so put off that it took me a while to get through this chapter.

I've deleted just as much as I've written in this post, because I don't want to appear to be on a defensive tirade. My reaction to this chapter can be summed up in two thoughts:

~As women, God calls each of us to different paths. We must be careful not to question another's calling or look down upon a woman whose calling is different than our own. I have many friends who stay home. I respect them for that, and certainly applaud them for following God's will for their families.

~A stay-at-home wife/mother isn't necessarily a better worker-at-home than her employed counterpart. While I work full-time, I also strive to make my home a haven for my family and still spend a lot of time with them. I don't have much idle time, but for me personally, that's a good thing. My outside commitments are limited to what God wants from me, and so I am able to give my family the attention they need and deserve.

Despite my hearty disagreements with portions of this chapter, I found that the second part of the chapter about setting the tone in the home was quite insightful. Since making major changes in our home this year, I've seen how much R appreciates my efforts and I have come to a much better understanding (and accountability) of my role in the atmosphere of our home.

You can see how others responded to Chapter 8 by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right when you say that the sahm is not necessarily a better worker-at-home than the mother who works outside her home. My laundry pile can attest to that.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

As a fellow work-outside-the-home Mom, I agree. I have often been criticized for not staying at home and my answer is the same as yours...just because I'm not home betweem 9-5 does not mean I don't keep my home. Also, I like to point out that the person checking out our groceries, working at the library, checking you in at the Dr's office, and driving the school bus is a WORKING MOM! I actually read a blog written by a devote SAHM/home schooler and she believes the bane of society is working moms. I've commented on her blog before that I don't agree with that and that pleading her case by bashing the "other side" isn't very effective. I think we're all in this together and, though we make different choices, we still want the same things for our family. Great post, Melissa!

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to read your thoughts on this issue. I am a working mom of a 6 year old and a 4year old. My husband is in school full-time right now and plans to teach elementary school. I have worked as a nurse since I was 19 years old. At 22, I returned to graduate school to do anesthesia. My husband and I have been married for 8 years. It isn't always easy, and there are days when I'd love to be a SAHM. But I believe I am doing what God would have me do. I have many opportunities to pray with my patients and share the love of Christ with them during the time when they are anxious and scared before surgery. My kids are great, and they handle me working very well. We've had an awesome Christian babysitter for four years. My husband is very supportive and is a huge help around the house. Sorry for the dissertation, but this is an issue that I feel very strongly about and hear lots of opinions about from some of the SAHMs in my area. Great post!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I haven't read this chapter yet, but I completly agree with you. I do not work full-time outside of my home, but I do know many women who work and are wonderful keepers of their homes.

Alana said...

"I felt her perspective leaned a little on the legalistic side, and quite honestly found myself so put off that it took me a while to get through this chapter."

I read this book awhile back and I have to be honest that I felt this held true for the a good part of the book. There were some good insights, but I felt a good number of the scriptures were taken out of context and there was one diagram toward the beginning of the book that I just could not in anyway make sense of.

I personally would not recommend this book, but if one does read it, they should have their Bible in hand to check the context of each scripture.

Hope you don't mind me sharing in this way, but have been feeling led to share my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,
I know this is greatly delayed, but I did not want to forfeit reading and responding to this chapter because I was not feeling well...

Though I do believe that Peace did not give as full an explanation of Proverbs 31 as she could have; I also believe that her scripture references concerning a women being a worker at home are true. I was a single mom for 12 years and had to work to support myself and my son. I worked at a job that I did not like and I was also not good at it. Then I married, moved to a new town and got a new job that I loved and I did very well at. Once I became pregnant and my daughter was born, I found it tough to stop working after I finally found a job that I enjoyed and could excel at. But I stopped for the benefit of my family. I felt that I needed to be home to make sure my home was a godly, blessing to my husband, family and all those who passed through the door, and I also felt that as a mom it is my mandate to train and nurture my children in the Lord. (to me, that meant being available to them, my son who was in high school and my daughter who was just born) They were placed by God in this family for a reason. I did not have that opportunity with my son, but I do with my daughter. I do not know the circumstances for which you are working, but what I asked myself was, "Am I working for me or for the glory of God"...whether I like it or not scripture encourages women to be about the business of their home and family. And I think that task can sometimes be harder then going to a job 9-5. I don't think that Peace was trying to put down the working mom, a book can only say so much. Based on the earlier chapters and the way she is witting this, I would conclude that she is giving us her view of what she feels is best based on scripture. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. I look forward to reading your insight on the rest of the chapters. Linda

Ps... I know I am way behind. I was not feeling well for weeks and I'm still not 100%, but I plan to continue to read and comment even if I am 2-3 weeks late. Prayerfully I can catch up. God Bless.