Tuesday, November 15, 2011

{ Tension }

I place so much value on productivity.

Like, soooooo much.

I am a person who thrives in structure and stability. As my friend Misha put it: "a system to create in and a process for enjoyment." That really captures the sort of structured freedom in which I work best. One of my preconceptions about becoming a stay-at-home-wife {SAHW} was that it would be an easy transition because I was homeschooled all my life 'til college. I'm familiar with being self-motivated and getting things done on my own and making priorities and accomplishing them. This'll be a piece of cake.

And yet, a couple nights ago, I literally had a fight with myself when Mike walked in the door after work. With every fiber of my being, I suddenly wanted to show him my to-do list for the day--what I'd accomplished, what I'd crossed off, how productive I'd been. I matter. I was alive today. I did XYZ and so it's okay that I don't work outside the home, look at all the important things I did! It was an abrupt and gut-wrenching desire for his validation and approval.

Do I matter, even when there is no paycheck attached to my activities, no nod of approval from a manager, no camaraderie with coworkers? When most people won't see or know what I do on a daily basis?

This morning I read an interview with Ann Voskamp in WORLD magazine. One sentence struck a deep chord in this feels-like-I'm-flailing heart of mine:
"A mother does eternal work in hidden, quiet places."

Hidden, quiet places.
Like home.
Hidden, quiet places are okay. Normal. Mike doesn't ask me to validate my day by producing a checklist of duties accomplished. He trusts that I will figure it out. I, in turn, trust that Jesus has it figured out and that by sticking close to Him, I am exactly where He wants me to be.

This word isn't just for mothers; it's for a young woman clinging to Jesus as her Rock in a world that has changed and shifted so much these past weeks.

There is a beautiful beach with a ferry dock about 10 minutes from our home. Yesterday was unusually sunny for November here in the Pacific Northwest, so after running errands I went down to the beach with a book to enjoy the beauty. Even before I went, I felt guilty. Why should I enjoy so much beauty while Mike is working in a cubicle? Shouldn't I go home and organize the storage closet while the weather's nice? This is a waste of time, really, and I'm afraid people already think I'm wasting my life now that I don't have a job, so I should really do something productive.

Ah, there it is. Fear of man, trying to rob me of gorgeous afternoon-gift from Jesus. I didn't listen. I bundled up and sat in the sunshine and read and laughed at the funny seagulls and soaked in the goodness of the moment. Today, as I look back on my rebellion against my old slavedriver, fear of man, I think of another quote from Ann Voskamp's interview:
"I preach the gospel to the person who needs to hear it the most: me. I need the truth of God's word, and to encounter afresh the grace of Jesus Christ...I will out-loud preach the gospel to myself. My children hear me quoting Scripture back to myself, giving thanks in situations, being very intentional about focusing on the Lord."

There it is. I need to preach the gospel--to myself. In these moments of uncertainty, when fear tries to grab the reins, I need to preach the gospel to myself. I need to nestle in closer to Jesus. I need to choose to believe what I know to be Truth, not what I am afraid of {or what I am afraid is truth}.

Some days, preaching the gospel to myself may just mean an afternoon at the beach, refusing to preach fear of man and pride and identity-in-works by instead saying "yes" to beauty, joy, peace, and a few hours of doing "nothing."


  1. I encountered the same feelings being a "SAHW". I didn't even like being asked what I did that day because I felt like I had to justify myself being at home. And like you said about enjoying yourself while your husband was at work, I felt bad or guilty or like I should stay at home and not spend any money because I wasn't making any money. I eventually got bored being a SAHW and went back to work! I'm hoping having children at home someday will be a more enjoyable stay at home situation for me! I am glad that you've found a good balance of work and relaxation and are finding joy in the Lord while doing it!!!! Always love reading your blogs Nikki :)

  2. So so good Nikki. And true! Every word of it! I constantly fight that battle of what I do does matter. No one really sees the folded socks and underwear or the organized toy closet. But is does still matter, so very much. And such a good word about preaching the Gospel to yourself. I need to do that more. Thank you for the encouragement. <3

  3. Sounds like you are learning some beautiful truths in this transition! So many of the same thoughts have been churning through my heart (and eating me alive!) in this last month, especially now that Neal has a job and I'm still looking (albeit half-heartedly). It is not easy to choose those quiet hidden places of fulfillment, especially when we are not even used to recognizing them! Thanks for sharing your journey in this - I think I may just start 'preaching the gospel' to myself too! ;)

  4. Amen! Great post and open heart. Thank you for sharing and being so real! :)