I tend to live in patterns that make me challenging to categorize. They say that adolescence is this tumultuous time when you lack confidence and you’re very aware of your social surroundings. But my teen years (and into my early 20s) saw me content in my own personhood, oblivious to the mean, catty girls who plotted my social destruction. My 30s, however, find me paralyzingly face-to-face with my lack of connection.
I tend to support ideals but shy away from putting them into effect in my own life. Like the fact that I support our 2nd amendment right to a gun, but don’t want one. Or that while I hope my kids carry a Bible with them to school, I don’t want the school to be the ones to teach it to them. I’m Katy Perry’s hot and then cold, yes and then no.
So it should come to no surprise to me that I left university with some of my most conservative leanings in regards to faith, scripture, family life and how the world worked. Usually the know-it-alls with a diploma tend to live voraciously and then slow down later once the “real world” hits. But not I. All of a sudden, I’m rethinking everything.
Most prominently, I’ve adopted more significant “feminist” perspectives which previously scared me. That word scared me. In honesty, I believed if you were one of those, then how did call yourself Christian? The two ideals simply seemed to conflict.
Until I married. Until I had children. And most remarkably, once I gave up a paying job for staying home every day. The last change probably gave me the most freedom to take on the title.
So, yes. I’m now a stay-at-home mother of (almost) 4 children, spaced in a way that one would inaccurately assume that my religious fanaticism opposed any means of pregnancy prevention. I look like a daycare provider when I leave the house. I cook nearly every meal from scratch, grow a garden and try to preserve the bounty. I bought a sewing machine to create crafts or even clothes. I make my own laundry detergent.
And I feel the most liberated I’ve ever felt in my 32 years of existence.
Last night, (ironically, as I was folding a pile of laundry) I reflected on my progression toward more egalitarian thought and began to feel a sense of peace with my decisions in life. Perhaps it’s because I feel like my daily work, though challenging and in many eyes, somewhat menial, makes a difference. Or perhaps my experiences as a mom of 3 unique children created an awareness that each and every person born to this earth is created equal and beautiful and that no system should purposefully limit what life would hold for them, be it in his role or her contribution.
But most likely, I believe it’s my freedom to choose my role – in this season, staying at home with my kids each day – that has empowered me most. I could leave each morning for a job in the corporate world. I could spend my days leading a team in some sort of non-profit or ministry initiative. But I’ve been granted the permission to choose to do what I love. What helps me define “success”, what gets me out of bed each morning, what drives me continue to grow and learn and do – is my own.
Generations of women lived being told they needed to stay home and raise kids as their contribution to society. I believe a generation of women followed who were told they needed to get a college degree and find a good job in order to fully thrive. And now I live among a generation of women who are sorting out “mommy wars” discussions to find that we finally get to choose to do what fits each of us best.
Sure, we have a ways to go. Other factors, like class & social status (probably influenced by things like race and education) play a strong role in how “free” we are to choose. It’s easier for some of us to make considerations than others. But the fact remains: less and less are we as women being told where our worth comes from. And for that, I’m grateful.
So as I’ve struggled to integrate this appreciation into my worldview of faith, I’m eternally grateful for souls blazing ahead and leaving me something to read in their wake. People like Sarah Bessey
(I’m chomping at the bit to read her upcoming book Jesus Feminist
) and Rachel Held Evans
. And writers like Ed Cyzewski
and Preston Yancy
. I’m watching and hearing faithful people talk about Jesus and the Kingdom of God and how there’s room for everybody
. In fact, Jesus led the way.
I feel incredibly blessed. Incredibly loved. Incredibly grateful. Incredibly empowered.