Staying motivated; Depending on the Lord: Sooner or later, in our endeavors as managers of our homes, we all run face to face with our poverty of spirit. We come to the end of our ability to love in a certain situation. We become physically and emotionally tired. Especially in today's culture, we feel the sting when people do not appreciate what we do in the home or why we do it. We make mistakes or even sin. We fall short of our goals. We compare ourselves to other women who seem to have it all together, and we become discouraged or even jealous. Instead of developing godly sorrow that leads to refreshing and repentance, we nurse wounded pride because we are not as perfect as we thought we were. (II Cor. 7) Regarding that last sentence, have I ever been there and done that!!
For the Christian, being a manager of our homes is one manifestation of our love for Christ and of our love for our families. This love for Christ comes from the fact that He first loved us and gave Himself for us. He has given us a command -- to love one another as He loved us.
To love as Christ loved is not an easy calling. It requires taking up our crosses daily and following Him. It means schooling our words and our emotions and our actions, rooting out our selfishness, enduring persecution for Christ's sake, serving to please our Heavenly Father and not to gain the notice of people. It involves repentance for sin, an honest effort to learn from mistakes, and perseverance for the long haul of life. It is a joyful life and it is the only life worth living, but it is not always a comfortable life.
We simply cannot walk as Jesus did (I John 2:1-6), even as managers of our homes, on our own power. Therefore, it's good to recognize and always remember our own poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:5). That is what drives us to our knees in prayer to a gracious God. We trust in Him, who longs to fill our poverty with citizenship in His glorious Kingdom.
We remember that God gives grace to the humble, but He opposes the proud. I Peter 5:8. Therefore, we are not afraid to say to Him (and to others as is appropriate), "I am weak. I need help. I don't know what to do. I need forgiveness. I need strengthening. Without Christ, I can do nothing."
Admitting our need is not the same as complaining about how hard our lot is. When we truly understand our poverty of spirit, we do not whine or murmer. Instead, we pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, and rejoice. We are not defensive when some person or some circumstance points out our imperfections, because we are already aware that we have fallen short of God's glory and are justified freely by his grace. We are excited to learn from our mistakes, to repent of our sins, and to move forward to excellence, because we are committed to growing in Christ for the long haul. Instead of becoming discouraged when comparing our life to another woman's, we will rejoice for her over the blessings in her life.
As Alan Redpath said, "Any battle for victory, power, and deliverance - from ourselves and from sin - which is not based constantly upon the gazing and the beholding of the Lord Jesus, with the heart and life lifted up to Him, is doomed to failure."
On the other hand, as Jesus said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor. 12:9. Christ also invited all of those who were heavy laden to come to Him, take His yoke upon them, and learn from Him. He promised that He would give us rest. Matthew 11:25-28. When we reach the end of ourselves and cast ourselves upon the Lord, we realize how truly sweet is the rest that Christ provides. Only when we are vitally connected to Him can we bear fruit as keepers of our homes. Only in Him will our labors be sweet and not burdensome. Only in Him will we make progress in both Christlike character and the skillful, loving management of our homes.
Many parents make the mistake of thinking that their teenage children do not need their guidance any longer. To me, this is like playing three innnings of a football game and quitting in the fourth. Even as children move into their adult lives, they still need us.
On the other hand, by the time a child has hit his mid-to-late teens, he or she should have mastered many practical life skills. Here is some food for thought:
1) If you were out of pocket for a few days, could your children take over your tasks until you resumed your duties?
2) Can your child balance a checkbook?
3) Can your child cook a meal? Perhaps, daughters will be more interested in the culinary arts than sons will be(although many chefs are men), but any boy will benefit if he can follow a few basic recipes.
4) Does your child know about car maintenance? Typically, boys may be more interested in this than girls, though this is not necessarily so. Any girl will beneift if she has at least enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions of a car expert.
5) Can your child do laundry? I thought we had this one covered until my son washed white towels with red stripes in hot water and the towels bled in pink streaks on the white. We are thankful that the pink came out in the next washing, and his towels are fine now.
We all live and learn.
6) Does your child know how to organize time? Does your child have a good sense of what needs to be done when?
7) Does your child know how to converse with people at the bank? Does he or she understand the way savings accounts, checking accounts, and 401K's work? Does he understand the principles of giving and other aspects of Biblical stewardship?
8) Could your child fill out a tax form?
9) Has your child ever read a copy of the Constitution of the United States, or, if you do not live in the U.S., is your child familiar with the workings of your country's government? Your child doesn't need to be an expert, but it's good to have a basic acquaintance with your country's foundational operation.
10) Can your child change a diaper, babysit, teach a children's class, or otherwise take care of children for a short time?
11) Can he or she manage his or her emotions well? Can he or she patinetly wait for and work toward some goal, or does he or she always seek instant gratification? Is your child able to demonstrate empathy for another? Can he or she handle trials or setbacks? Can he or she handle success? We aren't looking for perfection or adult maturity here, but the child should be well on his or her way to developing healthy ways of thinking.
12) Can your child navigate his world? Can he or she read a road map? Would he or she feel intimidated to be in a large city? How about in the country? Is he familiar with how to buy plane or train tickets? If your child had to travel alone somewhere, would he or she have the skills necessary to get around?
Of course, it's best not to wait until your child is about to leave the nest to train him or her in these skills. Children can begin to learn many life skills quite young, and they can continue to develop in these skills as they mature. However, if your child is lacking in some skills, it's never too late to help. Do be sure, however, to realize that your teen child needs you to relate to him or her differently than when he or she was younger. He is no longer a child and does not need to be treated as such. However, he still needs to show you respect, and you still need to offer guidance as needed.
I know from experience that there is always some way in which you had better prepared your children for adult life. Sometimes, as our children begin the nest-emptying process as they fly to nests of their own, we can start worrying about how well we did as parents or if our children will be able to function on their own. That's where we have to trust the Lord and trust our children, too. We have to trust the foundation that we laid with our children, even if it wasn't a perfect one. Our children will thrive better if they realize that we are at peace with this stage of life and that we have every confidence that the Lord will guide them.