Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blessed are the Homemakers.

No, I'm not adding to the Bible's Sermon on the Mount.  But the Bible does talk about women and households a bit and that's something that's been on my mind recently. These are a few of my thoughts.

While I was in college my family moved away from WV and back to NC. It happened the summer after my freshman year and I remember how strange it felt. I felt really homeless. The town I'd spent half my life in was no longer my home. I had very little reason to ever go there and revisit the places I used to hang out at. The new place my parents settled into was really nice, but seeing that I was in college I had very little opportunity to plug into that community and make friends and create memories that would make the place feel like home. College was a very temporary home and that semester I only had three weeks after going back before I left for China for the semester. I knew I had family and friends in many places and I always had a place to stay, but I was hit with a different kind of homesickness that made me uncomfortable. It was this feeling that I had no home. I had no permanent place to build memories and ties to my community. I craved a place that felt stable and familiar. I craved community. I started thinking more about what made up this idea of home and how I could create one or if home was something I could have during this period of my life.

This had a big impact on my art making. When trying to understand what I made and why I made it I started to realize my inspirations always came from the idea of home. Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked making blankets and hats and things for people to use. When making pots I like to think of the situations in which they will be used by people...dinners, coffee visits...times where people share their lives and their stories with each other. It was about nurturing and connection. When I moved to Michigan I brought things that were handmade or had some other sentimental memory attached to them, because they were the sights, sounds, and feelings of home. They brought memories and familiarity to a strange new place and helped me deal with changes. I think that since I've moved many times already in my life home has been something I've been chasing.

When my brother moved to college he and I went to the store to get supplies for his apartment and I remember he bought a candle for the living room. He looked at me and said, "my friend's mom burns candles in her house and it always smells so nice. It's relaxing and it feels so comfortable." He wanted to recreate the sense of that peace and comfort that he experienced when walking into his friend's house so he bought a candle. This particular friend's mom doesn't have a house that looks like an interior decorator styled it. It is older and well lived in. It's very comfortable and I always enjoyed spending time at their home too. As did many other kids. It seemed that whenever I visited this family there were always a few extra kids visiting them. I, too, always wanted my home to be full of people like that.

I was talking to a co-worker about her plans for when she finishes college and she told me she wants to open a restaurant someday. She lived in a lot of different countries while she was growing up and she wants her restaurant to have different dishes from each of those countries and to put up stories about those places. She said the restaurant would have a name like "Tastes of Home" or something like that because those were all places she called home. She can't go to all those places all the time so her hope is to bring those things to one place and share them with others. This struck me because it seems like home is a muse for her too. She's ready to make a career out of capturing that essence of the homes she has had.

I think we all have this longing for home. I think that no matter our past experiences with home and how many times home has changed for us we long for that feeling of safety and connectedness and love. We long for a place where nurturing and growth happens, where we are comfortable and ourselves. Important things happen at home. We learn and grow and find our identities within our homes. We impact each other and share our lives from our homes. We work through our problems at home. It's the perfect place to do ministry and work and experience real life together. Why do we as a society look down on homemaking as a career and as a priority? We are willing to pay big money for technology and to have people design apps and upgrades for our phones or make movies for us to watch but society trains us to think it's a waste to dedicate our careers to the place that helps give life. Women are told that they are not living up to their full potential if they want to be homemakers or that they are lazy in comparison to women with careers in the workplace.

Biblically, women are the keepers of the home. We have this special call and responsibility to our homes and those within them. We women have been specially designed to nurture and create that sense of safety and comfort in our homes that allow all of us to grow and develop and excel in our lives. And it's not about how many candles you burn or how many pictures hang on your wall. It's about so much more. It's almost undefinable. It takes a special person to foster an environment that makes people feel safe and loved. It takes a lot of work and energy to take care of others' needs and help them grow. It takes a lot of skill to manage budgets and cook and teach and to do all the things that go into raising families and preserving relationships. And it is never said in the Bible that a woman must be in her home 24/7. It seems clear to me that women can be entrepreneurial and have goals and grow but that our greatest calling is to care for our families and homes.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to give up their careers or to say that the work anyone else does outside the home is bad. I'm not trying to tell anyone that they need to get home and stay there. I guess I'm just voicing my thoughts that in a world where you may be looked down upon for staying home and treated as though you're doing nothing, I would say that you have a great calling and career right there at home. The work moms and wives do is incredibly important. You have this place to care for people and pour into their lives. It's a blessing to be a homekeeper and being a homemaker is a dying art. There is nothing shameful in the dream to be the manager of your home. It's a great thing. Throw yourself into it and make the most of it.

I read a C.S. Lewis quote once that said "The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career."  I like that. :)

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