Saturday, February 7, 2015

Just Say No

One of the greatest gifts a man can give his wife is the freedom to say, "No." I probably don't mean what you think I mean!  

When my two children were preschool age, beyond caring for them, I was coordinating our very active local MOPS group and writing curriculum for our church's preschool Sunday school. But, I still wasn't as busy as a particular friend of mine. Her husband took an amazing stance that I will never forget. He declared the "year of the no." He let his wife know that if she signed up for one more thing during that year, he would personally call whoever was in charge and disentangle her. That would have been embarrassing, to say the least. But, it was just what my friend needed to hear!

He wasn't trying to deny her a "fulfilling life" and she was grateful, not resentful. His position made it easy for her to do what she really wanted to do. He was trying to preserve her sanity -- and his own, I'm sure! She was able to do the minimum of "outside" things that year. In exchange, she got her home and family back in order. In a later season, she was back "out there" again, but she had been rejuvenated by then. His firm words afforded her the "permission" she needed to say "no" and focus on her own children, her own husband, her own home, and even her own needs.

Stay-at-home moms often feel compelled to help out because nobody else can. They jump in to run vacation Bible schools, or fund-raisers for the PTA, or homeschool co-ops, or every other event that comes along. That is all fine and commendable, as long as your own home isn't falling apart in the meantime.  

Look around you. How does your house look? Not just today (which may be an "off day") but on a regular basis? Is it warm and inviting? Can you have friends over and be hospitable? How well are your children behaved? Do they need a few "talking-to's?" Do they need training for chores? Have they had your undivided attention much lately? You can't give them guidance if you are running here and there and everywhere doing for everyone else.

It has often been said that our first ministry begins at home. That's why 1 Timothy 3:4-5 requires of church leaders, among other things, that they be "one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)." God wants us to work from the inside out. Take care of our spouse and children, then comes our extended family and neighbors. Of course, part of training our children will be to show them how we take care of those others, but first they must also be cared for.

It wasn't so long ago that, whenever I baked cookies or bought goodies, my children would mutter, "Don't get excited, they aren't for us." They just knew they would be for my Sunday school class, or a friend that just had a baby, or some gathering of moms. It had become a habit in our home that I was always doing for "others." It took me a while to "get that," but I finally did. I've been able to say, "I made these just for you."  

Titus 2:4-5 says that we should "admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." [bolding, mine]

How can we be homemakers if we are never home? I'm not judging single moms or those who must work to make a paycheck. But, for those of us who actually chosen homemaking, are we doing it? And, if we aren't, is is because we have over-committed ourselves outside the home?

I was talking with a good friend yesterday who has four children, one of them only four months old. She was wondering aloud how she was going to accomplish a huge fund-raising task for a wonderful organization. I said something to the effect of, "Just say no." Her response? "Can I do that?"  

YES! There are seasons for everything. Young mom, there will come a day when you have more time and energy at your disposal. It is okay, and even recommended, that you be home, be with your children, spend time with your husband. Get your foundations firm. Do those things that God calls you to do and let the rest fall away until a better time comes along.