“What I’ve learned is that God is glorified in the mundane work as much as he is in the magnificent. In fact, it is the mundane moments, the moments where we live each and every day, where we come to see the true greatness of God and his love for us.”
“So, what do you do?”
It can be an awkward question.
I am still working on a proper answer.
Year ago I said, I’m in school. Then it was, I’m an accountant. Then, I homeschool my girls.
But now that I’m an empty-nester?
I don’t have a single word or phrase that sums up what I do with my life.
Women (and men) who stay at home often struggle with the “What do you do?” question. In Courtney Reissig’s new book, Glory in the Ordinary, she addresses some of the issues we struggle with.
Not a “Real” Job
Like, we don’t have a “real” job unless we’re getting paid. It’s easy to feel undervalued when there’s no paycheck at the end of the month. Or no official title to mark your identity.
But Courtney reminds us that work at home is a real job. Money itself doesn’t make a job meaningful.
“It is important for us to see work as a contribution, and not always with a dollar sign attached to it.”
Wasting Your Brain
There were days at home with my kids when I wondered if I was wasting my college degree. When you’re reading The Cat in the Hat and drilling multiplication tables, you can wonder if this is mush to your brain.
But I had to remind myself that I was using my education, and perhaps more so at home with my kids than when I spent all day doing accounting for a corporation.
Maybe our at-home work (or even at-the-job work) is not in our chosen field of study, but all our life experiences add up and contribute to how we interact with others. (And homeschooling was actually very taxing to my brain.) None of it is wasted.
It Never Ends
For those whose lives revolve mostly around the home, you know it can feel you’re never off-duty. You live where you work. The work is always here. There’s no boss to prioritize your work (which can be both a bad thing but also a good thing!). There’s also no official quitting time when you clock off the job and drive home.
In chapter 6, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep,” we’re reminded that while we were made for work, we were also made for rest. Rest is another way we can bear the image of God.
“Only God gets his to-do list done. And I’m not God, so I should stop trying to measure up.”
Feel Guilty If You Need Help
When you stay at home, you can succumb to feeling like you need to do it all. Take care of the kids, cook all the meals, wash all the clothes, etc. (You can feel like that even if you don’t stay at home.)
But nobody can do it all, whether you’re home full-time or work full-time. Courtney reminds us us that the home is everyone’s job, not just yours. You can’t do it alone. And that’s okay.
“When the work of the home is for everyone, then our identity isn’t destroyed when our husband helps around the house. We are able to understand and embrace that he is a contributor too.”
Not Doing “Big” things
And finally, often we feel that our work at home is insignificant because it seems so small. We’re not “out there” changing the world.
“An even more troubling aspect of our culture’s understanding of work is that we tend to think that if our work doesn’t accomplish something big, it’s not worth our time. But we are defining big and important by the wrong scale.”
Caring for the people in our own circle of life is a big thing. It honors their worth. And it also honors God.
“It is caregiving that makes up the bulk of at-home work. The food is for people to eat. The sheets are for the beds that those people sleep in. The clean clothes are for them to wear. Care takes care of people, but care also shapes people.”
I laugh with my sister Sandy about our job titles these days. We used to say we were stay-at-home moms. But now that our children are grown, we can’t claim that title. We joke that the revised title “stay-at-home people” doesn’t sound quite right, especially when the truth is we are not often at home anymore anyway. We’re more available than ever to do things outside the home and to contribute our energies to those outside of our families.
While it’s nice to have the approval of others about what we do, our worth doesn’t depend on their evaluation of how we spend our days.
Because here’s the main thing: whatever our work—and wherever our work—(inside or outside our house), if it’s done for God’s glory, it’s valuable.
“With every ordinary task you do, you are bringing order into this chaotic world that we live in. While it might feel hardly God-like, I assure you that it is.”
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Have you struggled with your “ordinary” work not feeling valued, whether at home or in a workplace? Please share your thoughts.
Read related articles from Courtney Reissig:
My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book