Monday, October 17, 2005

Eliminating Unnecessary Pressures

I've noticed a tendency amongst younger women especially, to feel overwhelmed and under stress, even after they leave the working world and settle in to be home bodies, where a more relaxed life is expected.

I think what happens is that when your time is freed up from the stringent requirements of school or work, you tend to feel you have to fill it up with other things. People may impose on you, also. They think since you are home, you can do extra things.

If you want to eliminate the unnecessary stress, you have to also be careful about church things. I know it is nice when there is activity going on in the church, but many of the people who run here and there doing "church work" are neglecting their homes, neglecting their rest and their spiritual lives. Their minds are always in a whirl as they try to attend all the available classes and fellowships.

I'm writing this as a Ladies Bible class teacher of some years, and a children's Bible class teacher: don't feel guilty if you have to quit these programs for awhile. All that is required of you is stated clearly in the New Testament, and does not include many of the things that are going on. Real strength in religion and the church comes from within a person; from their reliance on the Lord, and from their praise, devotion and obedience to His word, not on a dozen programs that keep you going, going, going.

It is easy for me to feel depressed when only 6 people show up at the weekly Ladies Bible study, where we enjoy the fellowship and the smell of good food, but I have to stop and think that people come on a voluntary basis, not because they are required to. I know there is a clear command in the scriptues not to neglect the Lord's day assembly, and if the younger women can be there, it makes Christ happy and it helps the church. To put pressure on them to do more than that, would be unfair and unscriptural as well.

I found that once I, as a teacher, relaxed and didn't put pressure on people to do anything, some of these other activities during the week, became more appealing to them. Take a piece of string and lay it on the table. Give it a push from one end and see where it goes. People who feel obligated to do something from pressure, don't do it well or as creatively, bringing out their true talents and abilities, as they would if they were given a take it or leave it approach. People naturally do a better job at whatever they do if they do it because they have their heart in it, because it relaxes or encourages them, or because they feel they are contributing.

I remember when I was younger, and raising children and managing a house as well as church work, how it all began to feel mechanical and meaningless to me. Once I eliminated a lot of the running around and the non-required church activities, my mind became more stable. I think in many ways, feminism has entered into the minds of the women of the church. They think they must accomplish so much, and do so much for the church and the Lord, that they fall into bed unaccomplished and exhausted every night.

Bible studies during the week are lovely, but often impersonal compared to the ones you do all by yourself or with your family, where you get down to solving your real challenges and helping each other with theirs. So, don't feel you must attend everything. Just choose the ones you need, and eliminate the rest.

Looking back at past troubles when I was a lot younger, I managed to connect them to lack of rest and lack of time for reflection, too much verbal interaction with people, and too many social activities. It may not be so with everyone, but it is something worth examining. We ought to balance our social life with quietness and rest.

Social activities too, put a lot of stress on people. I was reading where some of the early settlers of Oregon used to have one final social activity at Harvest, because for the winter season they would be more confined to their homes. By spring, they were excited to get back into social activities. They were fortunate to be able to assemble just once a week for church services. Good works didn't have to be organized into committees and groups. (Inside each person is a built-in committee that knows how to do a good work all by themselves, without a group.) The women would naturally want to offer their help when someone was in need, a baby was born, or someone wanted to be taught something. One account of a preacher stated that when they saw each other on Sunday, there were many tears of rejoicing that "gave the scene a zest, a richness and a charm, which no tongue can tell, nor heart conceive, who has not been one of our number." (written in 1850)

The "zest" he wrote of goes flat and dull when we engage in too much socialization. We are much happier to see people when we haven't seen them in awhile. The hugs are tighter and the handshake firmer; the face lights up with more excitement and gratitude. It is lilke waiting to open a gift that you don't receive every day.

I'm not trying to discourage those who want to build up church memberships by their devotion to activities, good works, fellowships, etc. There are usually two types of people: those who are in a stage of life where they can be more active with church responsibilities, and those whose work at home occupies them. We shouldn't expect that every single lady in the church should come to the Ladies Bible Class, nor should we expect that every single lady in the church would have the same pressing responsibilities at home.As ladies grow older, they may have more time to do thngs that the younger women will not have until they themeselves are older.

Just like too much fat or sugar in our modern diets, resulting in extra weight, we also suffer from the modern malady of too much socialization, which puts unnecessary stress on our lives.

A little peace and quiet won't hurt.

"When He giveth quietness, then who can make trouble?" Job 34:29

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.." Isaiah 30:15

Here is a truth that is good to know: It is just as scriptural to rest, as it is to work. It is good to take a fast from social things and let your mind rest.


Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
What a refreshing post! I agree with you one hundred percent. I have also found that once others, especially within the church, find that I am a homemaker and mother they immediately think I have tons of idle time on my hands with which to serve in some capacity. In years past I would have felt they were right and agreed to whatever was asked of me. Now, after many years of stress and wondering while I always felt so ill at ease, I evaluate everything by how it will effect my family and my time away from home. It is amazing how many honorable requests for my time I have turned down because it did not fit into our family's time and priorities. What a blessing this has been to our family! Thank you for your encouraging words.

Your old Victorian Tea sister,
Lady Aimee

PS Ask Mrs. Chancey about her long-lost pen pal, aka Aimee Welch Waldrop. God is amazing!!

Lydia said...

I'll add to that, Aimee, that many spiritual activities, such as meetings, workshops, revivals, and the like, do nothing to help women in the areas they most need help. After years of going to lectureships and ladies days and all kinds of things, I totally left it all behind to concentrate on my home, my family, the local church and my personal relationship with God. Christians do far too much sitting in meetings, when they need to really be up and about the Lord's true work: working in the mission of the family and home where we are falling apart the most in our nation.

A Servant of the King said...

When I was a young mother, I very much wanted to be involved in the activities at church. Our pastor's wife very wisely told me that now was the time to devote to my children at home and that would be a time in my life when I would more fully be able to serve at church. I'm so thankful that she encouraged me in that area.

Another wise woman encouraged me to try to find ways I could serve without leaving the home. I started writing birthday cards to all the ladies in church and that has been so much fun and doesn't take time at all! I have also found ministries that I can do from home such as the Mailbox Club (see my blog for more info).

Anyway, your post is so timely and I hope the young moms reading it will remember that there are different seasons in one's life. The time with babies, toddlers and young children will pass way too fast!!
Elaine <><

Anonymous said...

My children range from 6 to 13 and I've always been a homebody. I don't see myself being busy outside my home ever. I much prefer to stay at home. :)

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Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
Thanks SO much for words of gentle guidance and wisdom! I have felt SO selfish and guilty in the past when well meaning sister church members (who are supposedly "homemakers") have told me there was something wrong with me because I preferred to spend my time taking care of my own little world of husband, home, and family. How well meaning they are but how easy it is to take on too much and neglect the very things that God has given to me as my primary responsibilities. So often today we are told that we as woman believers must go to this meeting or to that function or take time to help with this, that, or the other obligation - until there is nothing left for that which should be first and foremost - our family.

I was in the store the other day and ran into a friend and her daughter. They were so hurried and disturbed because they were trying to get the unimportant job of shopping for the family out of the way so that she could go back to the important job of working in her ministry at church. I couldn't help but notice that the items she had chosen were all "quick" convienence foods and mentioned it to her. She told me what a burden shopping, cooking, and generally doing what it took to take care of her home and family was and how much time it took away from important obligations as a woman member of the church. All of a sudden I began to understand why her daughter seemed so unhappy. Wouldn't you seem unhappy too if you heard your mother say what a burden taking care of you was? Truly - we MUST go back to a correct biblical understanding of what and where our duties as wives and mothers are - AT HOME!!! - not in the world - even the church world! Thanks again dear Lady Lydia - because of your kind guidance - I won't feel wrong or abnormal for preferring the duties of my little home circle above everything else! - Meg

Lydia said...

People complain more and more about depression or a feeling of craziness--I wish they'd take as good care of their minds as they do their nails and their hair. Ministries take up oodles of time and money and in the meantime, little time has really been spent renewing the mind. Women especially need to make it their "ministry" to have peace in their lives.

The title of this article should have been "You don't have to do all that stuff."

Elizabeth Jane said...

I agree whole heartedly and just to have these good things reinforced to me is like a refreashing rainful on a pleasant day, all because it is truthful and good judgment. Thank you .

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