As I mentioned in the introduction post (read here) of this series on the heart of a single woman’s home, several lies about myself as a woman and as a homemaker wreaked havoc on my heart. These lies still tend to rear their ugly heads now and again, but by the grace of God, I am not overcome by them. It is not as if I never struggle now, nor that I don’t foresee struggling in the future, but that God is faithful.
One lie I took to heart was that I was not attaining full womanhood because I was unmarried and childless. I felt others believed it about me as well. The second lie was that any home-making on my part would just be an imitation of “real” home-making. You see, I was the fairly conservative good girl growing up. I had my hope chest and learned how to cook, sew, clean, and decorate, yet I felt there was this cultural “rite of passage” into womanhood that I couldn’t achieve, both in secular culture and Christian culture. I had an idealistic picture in my head of what my homemaking should look like. Being single and bouncing around apartments every 5 or 3 or 6 or 11 months didn’t fit anywhere in that picture.
I began to believe I had been given second best. I grew to resent doing the “manly” tasks out of necessity. I felt overwhelmed with balancing a heavy teaching load that followed me home, maintaining a home, running errands, paying bills, and finding time for ministry. I felt that I was viewed as living in roommate limbo-land, not reaching full maturity until I had a family of my own. I questioned whether my work in the home was legitimate since I wasn’t engaging in the sanctifying work of submitting to a husband and raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I heard testimonies time and again that being a wife and mother was the most sanctifying experience these ladies had encountered. Being a wife and mother was simultaneously the hardest thing they had done, and also the most beautiful and fulfilling. A married woman could live out the beautiful reflection of the Gospel with her husband. I didn’t hear anyone say that about singleness. I felt left out of that element of beauty, that witness, that sanctification. I began to wonder if my witness and sanctification were second best as well.
The truth is that I was prideful and jealous. I was comparing my reality with the romanticized versions in my head and on social media. I really wrestled with Pinterest and wanted to make my home look perfect in an attempt to validate my efforts in home-making. I was confusing homemaking with a product that looked like a well-laid out home with good recipes, cleaning know-how, and hospitality tips. Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but the truth is that the validation of my work in the home needs to come from God. In this way, I am freed from worrying how popular culture or Christian culture viewed me or my home. I have the ammunition I need to fight from alternating between “If only there were a man here who could do this” to “forget men, I can do this myself” to “but don’t appear too self-sufficient because that might scare them away” to “I don’t think I can do this after all”.
Here is an example of God showing Himself in the midst of one of those times from a journal entry dated 6/11/14, the almost 1-year anniversary of living in my own house:
“Tonight I find myself guilty of great sin. Yet, I also find my great God forgives, gently instructs, and breaks my proud heart with such kindness that I find any tears of remorse must find themselves equally mixed with tears of happiness in my Lord’s goodness. What is my crime? I have not believed God’s works kind; I have doubted His faithful words that he hears my desires and fills them; I have willfully neglected the truth that I am one whose face need not be covered in shame. I have instead chosen to dwell in my discontent on the idea that the life and work God has given and the blessings He has bestowed are not good. I have worried in mortification over them instead of rejoicing and delighting with thanksgiving. But praise God that he has given me His Word to read freely. His Spirit, instead of shunning me, stays to faithfully convict and then comfort my heart.
“The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:13b-21
“And as if that were not enough – God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8”
Through her writings, Helen Roseveare, a single missionary to Africa has encouraged me in the sanctification that comes from serving God as a single woman. She wrote about one similar encounter with God in her book, Give Me This Mountain:
‘You are doing this work for me, and I have seen all you have poured in, of heart and soul; I know.’ So He breathed peace into my striving heart – the same old message, but ever new.
Another deep truth I have learnt, and one we can all cling to, is that God is personally interested in us as individuals and that He will engineer our circumstances and daily lives so that He can thereby make us like Jesus… through them, we may be drawn closer to Himself.
Therefore He showed me, with a gentle smile, a smile of reproof perhaps, that I had taken so long to learn, a smile of deep love that I truly wanted to learn, that I was ‘acceptable with God,’ and this could only mean that I was in the centre of his will. Certainly this could be no ‘second-best’.
I have come to realize that making a home looks different for me than for others – even other single women. In His great goodness, God is the designer of all and is pleased with the faithful, trusting obedience of His children whether he has called them to singleness or marriage. The Father of Lights, who gives good gifts, does not give second best. His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.
Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5
(Up next: Some examples of what different aspects of home-making have looked like in my life and what God has taught me through them. First on the list: time and money.)