Monday, November 3, 2014

Practical Approaches to Vocation and Family

I didn't grow up in a traditional family. I spent my teen years being raised by my father who worked full-time.  Even though I grew up in the Church, the thought that I would have a "role" in the family didn't really occur to me. So by my late twenties when I was married with a small child and another one on the way, I found myself at a crossroads.  I worked as a full-time English professor at a small private college and I loved my job.  But I began to feel an inner tension.  I did what most of us would do when we become uncomfortable on the inside:  I prayed.  I asked God about this turmoil and eventually I started to ask women a bit ahead of me in life about the twisting and turning I was feeling.  With their wise counsel and the Holy Spirit's breathing of Psalm 46 into my spirit, I made some minor adjustments that calmed me as our second daughter entered the world.  And I kept my job.

Then one morning before work after our second daughter was born, I knew something inside was shifting again.  The wonderful woman who cared for our daughters in our home had a sudden emergency and I didn't have childcare.  Packing the girls and six diaper bags (that's what it felt like at the time) into my car, I drove us to the college and set them up in my office.  My colleagues and my husband helped care for the girls while I taught my classes.  It worked and everyone was fine. Four months later I found out I was pregnant again and I realized I had to make a change in the way I was working.

Placing aside any stereotypes of what I thought a Christian woman's life should look like, or maybe out of sheer ignorance since I didn't have a clue how this worked, I prayed again.  This time, I asked God to show me how to live out a family life with the gifts, passions and education he gave me.  I'm really thankful I asked.

Here's a few practical thoughts I'd love to pass along to you that the women a bit ahead of me in life taught me:

  • Follow your heart
  • Share responsibilities with your spouse
  • Find solid childcare even if you don't have a paid job
  • Be creative in making money during seasons when you step out of your field
I like the above wisdom but I LOVE the ones below and I think you should pay close attention to them as a Christian woman in our current culture:
  • Seek out women ahead of you in the race and initiate time with them
  • Show your true feelings with these women about working and having a family
  • Cry when the tears well up
  • Don't make vocational decisions in the heat of chaos: pray
  • Read Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith and consider doing it in a book group
What does it take to talk openly about family life and working as a Christian woman today without putting women into hurtful stereotypes?
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