Sunday, April 16, 2017

Changing the Way we See Work as Christian Working Mothers

I don’t know all of you, I don’t know your hearts or your day to day life. I don’t know why you are working and what kinds of ups and downs you face as a Working Mom. Everyone is so different.

Some women feel clearly called to work outside the home.

Some women have found themselves needing to work to make ends meet.

Some women are single and have no other source of income so have to work.

My experience is different from yours and yours from mine.

But I do hope what I share in this post can be something that we can all connect with and find hope from. 

I am excited to share this because it is something that is changing the way I view my work. I do love what I do. I am lucky in that my work is meaningful and I use my gifts and skills and feel good about the work. But what I don't feel good about, at times, is the void of time I am away from my kids. My kids are now both in school, so it is a bit of a different feeling; however- my youngest who is in pre-school still gets to me. There are days where he wants me to stay home, where he asks me not to go to work and it hurts. There are days I wish I worked only half a day so I could help out in the school and be more present. My older son is going through a lot and I wish I understood what his life was like in school- these are the days I think I should be homeschooling. I have doubts, I have questions, I'm sure some of you can relate.

Usually on those particularly difficult days, I feel particularly distant, anxious or sad about something going on in the lives of my kids and I feel like maybe I should be home with them to “fix it” or to help them sort it out. On days like that I do my best, I pray with them, I pray for them and I check in at the end of the day and typically I see how the Lord has met the needs of my children and all is well.

But somedays the tension remains. I wake up with it, I feel it throughout the day and I feel it at the end of the day.

So I have started asking God to help me see this tension in a new way. Is it there because I truly am not supposed to be working? Do I need help with something? Am I focusing too much on the house, dinner, vs. being present with the kids? Am I missing something that God is wanting me to do? I don't feel convicted of sin. I do know that.

I prayed through these questions and the Holy Spirit led me to a few specific things but also to an overarching idea.  I was looking at needs and what I was doing to meet those needs, all day, every day. My focus was on what I was doing and accomplishing and then determining/assessing my success based on that. Not an unusual thing- most women do this, whether you stay at home or work. We want to do what is right and best for our spouses, our children and our home.

But what the Lord led me to grasp is something even better. To start looking at the tension I feel (which really boils down to what I am not able to accomplish, control or change), as an opportunity for sanctification.

Our goal is to become more like Christ. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we are saved upon belief, the moment we admit we are sinners, admit that our sin is keeping us from God and accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, determining to believe in Jesus and follow Him. We are saved.
But the rest of our lives are all about being sanctified. What is sanctification?

Sanctification is God’s will for us. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says- “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”.

The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness.

To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy. 

Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter this state when they are born of God.
1 Corinthians 1:30- “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” This is positional sanctification. It is a done deal upon belief in Jesus.

Progressive sanctification is growing in the Lord.
2 Peter 3:18 says- “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
While we are set free from the eternal punishment of sin when we believe in Jesus, we still sin every day.

But we are to pursue holiness.
1 Peter 1:15- “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”
We can pursue sanctification by applying the Word of God to our everyday life.
John 17:17 says- “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

Sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world.
John 17:18-19: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was.

Working Mamas- think about this and let it sink in. You are set apart, in your day to day life as a worker and a mother. You have been sent into the world, just as Jesus was sent, for a purpose- which is to pursue holiness. You are to pursue earnestly that purpose by applying the word of God to your life. When you do this, other will see.
Matthew 5:16- “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Maybe, just maybe (and I say maybe because I cannot presume to know everyone's situation), God is allowing this tension that oftentimes comes when a mother works outside the home,  as an opportunity for you to become more like Christ. For you to pursue holiness. For you to be changed and for you to bear witness in a powerful way.

How would you see each day- if you looked at it in this way?

If you woke up in the morning knowing that this day you have before you is on purpose.
That you have a purpose- which is to seek holiness, to become sanctified and to apply the Word of God to all areas of your life.

Your life can be a stunningly beautiful witness for the Lord, right where you are, right now. Believe it sisters and pursue it. Instead of working being a burden, maybe we can see it as a blessing and as a tool that the Lord will use to make us more like Him!

When the tension comes, lay it down before Jesus and ask Him to USE it to make you holy and more like Christ. I hope this encourages you!


GirlHouse said...

Thank you for this. In August, after 8 years of being a SAHM, I went back to work. 100% by choice and fully Goes plan. I'm a Childrens Ministry Director. Every aspect of the interviwing process was covered in prayer by my family and the staff. Just recently I 've been feeling the tension. The doubt, the stress. I thought all those thoughts were the enemy. But I knew that wasn't it. Your post brought me such a peace this morning!! Thank you for your words. God used you today!!

Melissa said...

This was so timely for me. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. The tension is hard to be in but great reminder of God's work in my life and His plans for my life and my family.

Elizabeth Jones said...

I am so grateful! I've been chewing on it for a while and it just started to blow my mind. The fact that I could look at my work as a way to become more like Christ, as a sanctification tool, it just gave me a lot more freedom and courage to face the tension And the frustrations with less guilt and more hope!
God bless you!

Elizabeth Jones said...

God is so faithful! He is always at work. His plans are so good. Thank you for commenting and God bless you sweet sister!

Elizabeth Jones said...

That is so wonderful! This is something I've been thinking about for a while now. Your comment is confirmation that God really is teaching me something new about how to see my work. And how to see the tension and stress as possibly something God can use. I am so grateful how the Holy Spirit connects the body of Christ. And I'm so glad that this post gave you peace! Praise God for that! And what an important job you have. Both as a mother and as a children's ministry director. May God bless you in both of your roles and may the Holy Spirit produce much fruit in both ministries!


Kelly Engle said...

This has been a huge blessing to me tonight. I struggle with a vague sense of working Mom guilt that doesn't always make sense when I try to describe it to my husband or friends. I work from home and the set up is nearly ideal and I know my work is God's plan for my life right now yet I consistently second guess myself. My mother was a SAHM of 5 and from the time I was a young child I was taught that women working outside the home was essentially wrong. I am amazed at how timely your post is because I was just telling my mom that working truly forces me to rely on God moment by moment. I did stay home for a time and I didn't feel as connected or in need of him as terrible as that sounds. Long story short- thank you for the gift of your encouraging words.

Elizabeth Jones said...

Wow. I love how the Holy Spirit works. I agree! Working has pushed me closer to God more than anything. I also have an ideal situation- 30 hours/week, flexibility, lots of leave but the second guessing and tension is there. I had a friend once say to me that we need "a life-giving message from the church for Christian Working Moms." I also always felt that there was this message that it was- if not wrong all together- then it was "less than". I've learned that no life when surrendered to Jesus is "less than"! Glad this encouraged you and thank you for commenting!

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Unknown said...

I can't tell you how excellent this was for me tonight. I often feel the tension of being away from my babies, and spread the tension to my household. This evening I left my daughter's room after nursing her back to sleep from a restless episode. I often ache to be home with them, but this door opened, and I think I'm in the right place for now. But I was wrestling with that again tonight and did a random Google search just to see what other Moms say (who has time for a plethora of mom friends to talk this out with when you're a working-outside-of-the-home Mom, right? :) ). Your article was a good reminder. Thank you.

Elizabeth Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Jones said...

Elizabeth JonesJune 6, 2017 at 6:25 AM
I am so glad that this encourage you! And you are in those really difficult days – I remember so clearly. Waking up and nursing my baby and then going to work and pumping and your heart just feels pulled so much. I want to encourage you that God loves you first and foremost. He knows your heart. He knows that you love your children and that right now you need to work and that that is hard for you. I pray that this time – as difficult as it is- will be a time or you grow even closer to the Lord. And that this will also be a time when your prayer life becomes richer as you depend upon prayer more than anything else. Make sure you spend time in the word- even if it is just one verse a day. I used to have three verses taped on the side of my sons drawer – which was right next to where I sat and nursed him. I would just stare at those versus over and over again every night – sometimes several times a night :-) I truly believe that the word of God is what kept me strong and helped me to find joy in the midst of those early days. You are an amazing mom! And you have a God who loves you tremendously! Be encouraged and live for the Lord today – both in your workplace and in your home. God will give you the strength that you need!

Koderchrome said...

Wow. Thank you for this. I've been thinking about this topic for a while and this Summer, I was feeling really low. I work full time, plus I am a lay ministry leader and have a couple of other volunteer positions (I do not let those eat into my family time, and they are all related ministry - and this brings joy in my life and I am certain of my calling, and I am ready to surrender any moment He says, STOP). I have been struggling, as our church really do not have any support for working moms (why not just take advantage of Women's Ministry?) and some pastors comment so much in support of staying-at-home-moms but don't pay any attention to those of us who HAVE to work, either the reasons you listed in your post, or in order to submit to our husbands decisions. People often talk about Proverb 31 woman, but neglect to comment on how she not serves her family (She does her husband good, not harm, her children call her blessed...), she has a job that she is good at and work hard at...and she has a ministry!
So thank you, thank you, thank you, I will keep my eye on Christ and consider my situation a process of sanctification! I'm blessed to know even as I write this, He is making me more like Christ!