Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

One of my friends, Amanda, hosts our church's youth girls to her home every week throughout the summer for fellowship, kitchen training, and for an older woman to come teach them on any number of topics.  This week was my turn, and we met at a different friend's home, and I thought I'd share what God laid on my heart to teach them. 

I asked the girls what they want to be when they grow up, with graduation from high school just around the bend.  I remember as a very small girl, still in Mission Friends, that I wanted to be a nurse.  I don't know why, but by the end of middle school, I wanted to be an occupational therapist because I wanted to help people who'd been injured in some way to regain their life skills through the use of dance and art.  That summer, I began volunteering at one of our local hospitals, something I would continue to do the next three summers.  While I loved being a youth volunteer, I quickly discovered, that being a nurse was out for me because I couldn't believe the hours the nurses in the hospital worked.  By that fall, I knew for sure even occupational therapy was out because I'm not gifted in science.

I failed to share this, but I decided to become a teacher because I was in our high school's Teacher Cadet program.  As part of the class, I went every week to help one of my former primary school teachers.  Standing in front of the empty classroom, waiting for my teacher and her class to return, I just knew this is where God wanted me to be, at least for a season.  It was actually while studying childhood development in college, that I made the decision to stay home with my children, something my future husband also wanted.

After sharing about childhood dreams, I turned to Scripture.  First, the Scripture that is the basis for this blog:
In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God's message will not be slandered. -Titus 2:3-5
 We also read about the Proverbs 31 woman, paying special attention to verse 27, "She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle."

I have been so happy to see many of our youth girls make efforts to embrace femininity in the ways they dress for worship, wearing dresses, and I had heard that on the mission trip, they were good at serving the men who were working.  So now, I wanted to continue to encourage them to embrace femininity as they graduate, possibly go to college, take on careers, and/or marry.  I wanted these scriptures to serve as a basis for our understanding of what God wants a woman to be in her life.

A little side note here, I realize not everyone will marry, but most will, and if you don't, you're still called to be life-nurturers, even when you don't physically bear children.  Single women or infertile women are often some of the most helpful to women dealing with the rigors of daily caring for children.  They can be of great help loving on our children in a number of ways through babysitting and Sunday School teaching, just for a couple of examples!

I went on to give the girls a quick lesson in our roles from the beginning of time.  Genesis 1:27, we find that God created both man and woman in His image and are both accountable to him.  BUT, Adam had the huge responsibility of being the first-born and was given authority and jobs to accomplish.  Woman was created with physical differences that made her suitable to be a helper.  I learned from Mary Kassian that the only other time the word for helper is used in Scripture is describing God as our Helper.  This is a huge compliment, not a secondary-type-citizen role! 

Then, the FALL came.  Adam failed to intervene, so he born responsibility for sin first.  And one of the consequences, along with the pain of childbearing, is that woman would "desire" her husband, meaning she would want to overpower and manipulate him.  Even little girls figure out ways early on to sweetly manipulate their daddies.  The sinful idea of "Girl Power" comes from this desire.  Ever since then, women have seemed to struggle with their role.  In modern times, we see women struggle to both have careers and be good mothers.  Even women who have decided to be at home often label themselves as "just a housewife".

However, if we remind ourselves of those first Scriptures, obviously God has an interest in women caring for their homes and families.  We can embrace what God created us to be and find joy in it rather than drudgery. 

I'm not saying all women must be at home, though if I didn't think it best, I wouldn't be doing it myself.  I do think it wise to at least consider careers that are helpful to the family.  As young women, if you desire to study further after high school, perhaps you can choose something that can also help you in your God-given role as wife and mom.  I know my education degree has helped me more with my own children than it did in those two years I taught school.  I think cosmetology is an awesome field.  One of our church members was able to be at home while earning an income by having her shop in her home.  While we were in seminary, I knew several nurses who were able to work just one day a week and still keep their families' insurance coverage.

The reason I was drawn to teach on this topic is because I see far too many women delaying marriage and delaying children so long that they sometimes miss the blessings God has in store for them.  They may delay marriage because of a career.  They may delay children because they see them as hindrances.  Our best opportunity for discipleship comes through parenting.  Paul did say to remain as he was (single) because singleness makes folks more free to ministry, but it's also better to marry than to burn (1 Corinthians 7:9).  So marry, but then don't delay having children too long because the "children are an heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward" (Psalm 127:3).  We need to value children rather than see them as hindrances.

My final thought is that young women should seek the Lord's will for the work He has for them to do throughout their lives and in all the seasons, to reexamine their motives for whatever work they may be doing.  Money, a comfortable lifestyle, the fact that being at home is hard work, whatever - none of that matters in comparison to what God deems as important.