Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting It All Done Tip #9: Know When to Say “No”

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  (Titus 2:2-5, NIV)

Although we may have to work outside the home, doing so doesn’t mean that our hearts aren’t there. The time we have at home, with our husbands and our children, should be cherished, protected and defended.

I have been visiting the blogs of many beautiful Christian women who are blessed to be able to be at home. Many of these emphasize that they are “steadfast at home.” Since I am called out of the home, I want to emphasize that I am “steadfast about home.” That’s the attitude I want to encourage you to have.
Realize that you do not have to do everything that a SAHM does in order to have a fulfilling life with your family. You may not have time to iron every stitch of clothing your family wears; most of the time, who’s going to notice anyway? You may not have time to have a garden and preserve the bounty; put up what you can from the farmer’s market, waste-not-want-not, and purchase the healthiest food you can afford. You may not have time to prepare a sit-down meal 7 days a week; do the best you can. But above all, cherish the time you have with your family. Guard it; protect it; defend it.

Also, realize that you do not have to do everything you are asked to do, whether it is a need in the church, at the kids’ school (if you haven’t brought them home yet), or from other family members. Approach every request with prayer and with consultation with your husband, and then be obedient to Lord’s will. Do not let Satan tempt you into worrying about what other people think about you. If you are right before God first, and if you are following your husband’s lead second, who else matters?

It is OK to say “No” to the nominating committee at church. Just because they ask doesn’t mean you are being given a mandate from God. Consider how taking on additional tasks will affect your God-given duties to take care of your home and your family. He is not going to ask you to compromise your husband and family to fulfill some role at the church.

It is OK to say “No” to the PTA. It’s a lot easier to turn them down anyway, since they don’t come as if they are bringing that “mandate from God.” On the same note, especially if you homeschool, realize that the kids do not have to be involved in every extracurricular activity in the community. Pick one that each child can be passionate about, and enjoy the time at home during the off-seasons. Children need time to just be kids: to run around the neighborhood, to play in the woods, to make believe and play house, to sit down and read a book of their own choosing. Having every minute scheduled robs them of their childhoods.

It is OK to say “No” to other family members, if and only if there is someone else in the family with whom you can share the task. Remember that your obligation is to your immediate family first, and then to your extended family. However, don’t shirk a responsibility if you are the only family there is. But if there are other family members available, make sure the burden is shared by all, and let your husband handle difficult situations. Keep in mind, however, that we “should learn first of all to put [our] religion into practice by caring for [our] own family and so repaying [our] parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (1 Timothy 5:4b), and “if any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:16).

One more thing on church: unless your husband wants to be there every time the doors are open (in which case you should follow your husband’s lead), don’t feel that you have to be there for each and every service and activity. I know that many preachers emphasize that you need to be at both services on Sunday and at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night and that the kids need to be in Sunday School and in all the extra activities, but by doing so they have made church attendance a legalistic obligation instead of a joy that is to be anticipated and desired. Look at the entire passage from Hebrews, from which the sermon material for this usually comes:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25, NIV)

This passage is encouragement for us to persevere each in his own walk and direction to help each other along, not a new law from God commanding us to attend each and every church function. How often have you heard a sermon based on just Hebrews 10:25a: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” But when we only read that portion of a verse, we miss the point. Sure, we should not neglect meeting together, because “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). But meeting together is not the end-all, be-all. You have to have the rest as well, from drawing near to God in your daily devotion to realizing that you no longer have to have a guilty conscience.

Remember that your primary ministry as a wife and mother is to your husband and children. I don’t recall the Proverbs 31 Woman being commended for her exemplary church attendance, for teaching a Sunday School class and keeping the nursery and for leading AWANAS. If you are called to one of these, by all means, be obedient; just don’t feel obligated to do them all if you have to balance working outside the home and/or homeschooling as well.

Know your priorities, and know that it is OK to say “No.” Be Steadfast About Home, and be at home as much as possible. Besides, that’s where you want to be anyway.

There is joy on this journey, on my way home to my Father's house,
Cindy <><

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