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?