Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don't Give Up

Every once in awhile throughout your endeavors as a wife , homemaker, or a grown daughter serving at home, you may be thrown into confusion and self doubt about what you are doing. There is a popular saying, "Expect to suffer for doing right."

I've known this saying for many years, but criticism and condemnation always surprises me and can temporarily debilitate me. My emotions take over my will and I am lost in self doubt until I come to my senses.

Some people are de-motivated and depressed in their spirit by cruel and thoughtless remarks regarding their profession at home. Others are crushed so much after such verbal attacks, that they cannot concentrate on anything worthwhile. Have you ever picked up an object at the grocery store and were unable to read the label, because you had such a burden on your heart? Have you ever lost your ability to concentrate on anything worthwhile? Have you ever wanted to run away?

Remember that you are right. Keep your confidence, and let all this resistance from others, even those within your own family, be a confirmation that you are doing well, and doing right. Instead of letting it crush you, convert it to fuel. The more you are scorned , the more you can do to make your home successful. One area that you can use this negative energy, is in the realm of house cleaning and house keeping. Every time someone says something that discourages you, pick up a broom, a mop, a dust rag, or open a drawer and unload it, clean, sort and cull. If we all did things like this, we would be able to tell who was persecuted the most for becoming a wife and homemaker. This is how you get the upper hand on these people. Insulted again? Guess I'll clean up the bathroom. Oh, you think I'm out of my mind? I'll clean the garage. Keep hurling the insults and I'll get my flower beds weeded. One more remark like that, and you'll get me so stirred up, I'll make a goodie basket for you. Take that.

I am afraid that I picked up this habit way too late in my life, and that I sufferred needlessly from taking cruel remarks seriously. When I was told I was worthless, mindless, not contributing an income, shouted at, or shown great disrespect, I tended to nurse my emotions curled up in a ball, unable to eat or sleep.

In the 80's there was a stark absence of support for people who wanted to be like the Proverbs 31 woman, or be wives and guides of the home, as in I Timothy 5:14. Not only was there very little support (most women were gone to work and the houses were empty--there was no one to call or visit), but women in my position were sometimes told that the Proverbs 31 woman was "engaged in commerce," which justified women leaving the home to go into the workforce full time.

Some people even went so far as to claim that this example of an ideal woman was in real estate! I did find out that the "field" that she bought was about the size of the vegetable garden in my back yard, and that it was a common custom of the times, equivilant to the responsibility that many women have today of choosing the appliances for their homes, or the best car for their uses.

This woman is often interpreted in such an extraordinary way that people say she was not a full time wife, mother and homemaker, but a shrewd business woman who stayed up all night and sewed things to sell. A careful study of it will reveal something more realistic. The larger principle in this description is that she made good use of time, and was not idle, but someone whose major concern was the success of her family spiritually, physically and mentally.

Rather than being impressed with the care and concern she had for "the ways of her household," there is a tendency to magnify the money-making aspect of her life, which, I suppose is on everyone's minds in our times.

Challenges like this, which can shake your confidence, can be used as a hint that you need to better yourself. After the next negative remark, think, "Is my work done?" Think about something that has really be neglected. Maybe it is something that you never seem to be able to get around to--such as that overflowing closet or bathroom cabinet.

Getting in and beginning to straighten, organize, and clean, takes away the taint of these awful things that people say to discourage you. When the mind is flooded with sorrow, it can be soothed by cleaning and organizing, (as strange as it sounds.)

We are all emotional, but I think especially as a young homemaker, you can take some of these things too much to heart. I remember being so grieved at criticism levelled at me that I wept until I sank into depression, and my home and family were even more neglected.
One day I decided to get the better of it.

I am not saying that people were always levelling rude comments at me, but that it happened periodically and it always devastated me. The day that I decided I would not put up with it any more, is the day my life changed for the better, and I became more successful at home.

I remember clearly that a relative of mine made a cutting, sarcastic remark about me "never doing anything." I remembered what the Bible said about doing good to those who treated you in a despiteful way. I excused myself and went and put on the tea kettle. (Oh the blessings of making tea--even if you don't drink it!).

"I'll be right with you," I said. "I'll make us some tea." In a few minutes I brought out some beautiful tea cups and fragrant Celestial Seasonings herbal raspberry tea in a pot. I poured the tea and offered some scones. I then reached over and got a huge basket of laundry that I had been folding before she dropped by to see me.

I began to fold, occasionally showing her some piece of clothing or a towel that I liked, and making a comment about where it had come from or what I used it for, and when I had finished, I put it away and brought in another basket. As she sipped her tea, I put away the children's toys. Then I invited her into the kitchen and began to work on washing the dishes, talking in much the same manner as I had while folding clothes. "This plate was a wedding gift; these are the children's special glasses my mother gave them, " etc.

You can be sure I never heard another discouraging word from this woman. She, in fact, became inspired to go home and clean her own house, because of the way I was doing it, with joy. Do remember this when critics are watching you work: you can't act like an oppressed woman who doesn't enjoy her work, if you want to win the approval and support of others.

Another thing that really helped me claim my territory and establish my borders, was to do something benevolent for the person who was displeased with me. Inviting a disgruntled critic for dinner, or giving them a love-basket full of things that delight a woman's heart (candles, soaps, teas, a beautiful book), usually nuetralized her and I heard no more of her talk.

Showing these people that being a homemaker enables you to be rich in good works, (I Timothy 6:18) can help to open their eyes. I remember once a woman who was in business where my husband worked, constantly asked why I wasn't in business with him, and what I did all day.

It was reported to me by several people that this woman just couldn't quit talking about me, so I extended an invitation to her and showed her around my house, explaining what I was doing in every room, and what all I was responsible for. She and her husband enjoyed a meal with us and they became good friends. She later made a heartfelt decision to be a full time wife, mother and homemaker. If I had retaliated towards her thoughtless remarks, I doubt this could have been accomplished.

My mother did this once with a neighbor who came by daily and just wanted to sit around and complain. In those days mother was an avid gardener. Her visitor followed her to the garden, where my mother pulled weeds and picked strawberries. This memory came to me when I decided that I would not let these remarks and challenges hold me back.

Are you letting popular opinion hold you back? Do you lack group approval and motivation? Are you hurt by those remarks? You can use it as a driving force to do good, instead. Each criticism, each disappointment, each accusation, can spur you on to something useful. It can be like a signal to do something beautiful: - arrange a mantel, a table-scape, or make a bed in a special way.

My husband (who only wants me to be happy) told me once that I could reward myself with something I wanted, every time I sufferred such disappointment, if I wanted to. I learned to look at it in a completely different way, thanks to his attitude.

Shortly after that, a woman told me that my daughter wouldn't always think the same way about life as I did, and that she would rebel. We were both horrified. How dare she suggest such a thing. I felt like my stomach had rolled over inside of my body and my heart had constricted into a tangled mass of muscles, unable to move. Normally, an insulting remark like this would have debilitated me for days, where I would experience heavy anguished sobbs intermintent with a blank, hopeless stare...but this time, I remembered "the reward", --and so, as a reward, I sewed her and myself matching dresses, a personal luxury for us, which began a tradition that has not stopped. As time has gone by, I find I don't need rewards. Rising above it and being able to conquer the hard challenges of homemaking, is reward enough.

One woman with whom I am acquainted was constantly derided by her teen son, who thought that his mother was very stupid. He criticised her constantly, and she found she could not win an argument or convince him of her reasons for being home, so she began to clean his room. It made an amusing sight to see her folding and putting things away, while her son berated her. Who was doing that which was right?

It is interesting to watch critics. They talk much, and achieve little. If we could only think, when we are criticised unfairly, to "check the fruit on the tree," or have a good look at their own lives, we would not waste time and energy feeling sad and wounded at their thoughtless words. Just keep working, and you'll have victory over the housework and victory over your own self.

At the risk of making this entry a bit too long, I really must add that it is more than housekeeping that you will find yourself guarding. It is the values that you hold dear; that of marriage, loyalty, the house as a refuge and a place to be respected, the family as a cohesive unit that supports one another and cares about each others feelings.

You will instinctively be guarding your home against things like selfishness, rebellion, disrespect, and any thing that devalues its impact. There will be those that shake its emotional foundations by challenging your right to maintain these values.

Remember that you are right. Resistance to what is good and beautiful is only an indication that you are being effective. If you have to reward yourself after a battle, then do so, and eventually you will find that success is reward enough, and that it was worth the price you paid.


Calla Lilly said...

Thank you for this encouraging post. Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that if we are not being questioned or persecuted by the world, that perhaps we are not living life as we should. This persecution is to be an affirmation and encouragement to us that we are living a life different from the world. It is always encouraging to me when I am under attack to visit your site and know that I am not alone in my endeavors to be more godly and feminine. Thank you for being set apart.

Janet said...

There have been many times that I have been hurt by others, and then debilitated for days because of it. This post has surely encouraged me and strengthened me to face these times in a beautiful, constructive way! Thank you for reminding us that we are right... when we are criticized, often the first thing we do, is to question if they are right and we are the crazy ones.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman,

Thank you so much for this post! I believe it is one of my favorites. What strikes me most is that you not only acknowledge that as humans, we DO have these feelings in such circumstances, but give such Biblical and wise counsel in how to rise above it and correct and improve our own sensitivities. In this way, we don't allow Satan to creep in and have his way with us, but rather, glorify Christ.

I also like what you said (and have said in a previous post or two) about doing our work at home in a joyful way. I totally agree that we cannot encourage more women to be keepers of their homes by acting burdened or overwhelmed.

You have inspired me to work with more joy. My sons need to see this too, so they will seek wives who stay at home because they SEE that it is best, not just HEAR it from me.

You have also inspired me to think of something kind to do for someone when they are unkind to me, whether it is my child or someone else. Christ has instructed us in this, but I thank you for giving me this example, one woman to another, to remind me so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing to read this entry!! When I was younger (I believe I am probably about your age and with grown children, like yours) I also took to heart many of the criticisms of my husband's family, particularly his mother who was an ardent career woman. As you mentioned, there was not much support for being home in those days, even within the church. I am so happy we have this wonderful medium of the internet today. Count it all joy! I can't thank you enough for the encouragement you give us each day!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

There is something else: no matter how much we try to overcome the slaying comments aimed at us, with little techniques of improving the home, rewards, and so forth, our husbands and children have the duty to honor our role as wives and homemakers. They must not disparage it! They must not be allowed to run us down. It should be treated as a serious breech of good manners. A cutting remark from within our own camp can reduce our effectiveness in the home. When we let these things just fly over us and don't confront them, we allow them to destroy their own house from within!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

...and, the homemaker must not be regarded just as a housekeeper. I've heard women say, when their opinion is ignored, "Don't pay any attention to me. I just work here." It means that somehow they are valued only as servants and cooks and housekeepers, but their natural womanly instincts to give good counsel, are being cast aside. This is very sad--may it never be!

Donna said...

I'm sitting here in tears...joyful tears. You've put a problem I'm constantly faced with into words and given me constructive solutions instead of meaningless platitudes.

I thank you. God used you today to minister to many with this wonderful post.

Rhonda said...

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and encouragement. Where I live, in Chile, with our new female president, women are encouraged every day to leave the home. I continue to try to encourage my ladies to stay in their home and be successful and fulfilled there. There is so much at stake!!!!
I read your blog all the time. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I'm sure that if you were not an acomplished housekeeper, you would not have the time to write so thoughtfully.

I don't know how old you are, but thank you for being the "aged woman" for me that Paul was talking about in Titus 2

In Christ's love

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman, Thank you so much for speaking on this subject. I'm sure many of the younger homemakers have an especially difficult time when misguided people make such thoughtless and unkind comments. Your solution of showing kindness to those who ridicule is the biblical response, of course. It is simple in theory yet more difficult in practice - at least the first time or two, then it becomes quite easy. One of the good things about being an "older" woman is that we are more confident in ourselves and our choices and we aren't as stricken to the heart when we are questioned or teased about our choice. We can more easily show compassion to those who hurt us because if we recognize that envy is probably the main driving force behind this hostility to homemakers and we can help these unhappy women by showing them kindness and letting them see the beauty of how we live. You explain this much better than I ever could! Thanks again for your wise words; they always come at a time when I've been puzzling about the very same thing! Best wishes from Mrs. T.

Victoria said...

Thank you for another very encouraging article. I have read in some of your other posts about your suggestion of wise investments and careful handling of a husbands salary. I was wondering if you might have any advice for older women such as myself who don't have any financial security and wondering how I might invest and build my husbands salary which is not very large. I desire to remain at home but it is a constant concern. I am learning to be more frugal and to trust in God more. Thank you!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

The one who accuses is often the one who is hurting the most.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I'm thinking, I'm thinking! We have investments in annuities of some kind--my husband takes care of that, and also something called Edward Jones. Maybe someone else has some ideas.

Stephanie said...

Thanks much for this post. My husband and I are in ministry, and while I've not received any comments or criticism on being a homemaker, we are criticized in other ways. Especially right now, we are experiencing a time of deep trial, with some people leaving the church and slandering my husband and the rest of the church leadership in the community...some of these people were good and trusted friends. Thanks for the reminder to "overcome evil with good." It's a tough one to remember and to desire to do, but what joy once obedience is underway! Blessings on you and your home.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

When I was 16, my mother was probably about the age I am now (55--its not really old, these days!) and I listened to something she said in response to criticism, that was so funny I had to stifle my giggles. There were two college students living next door in Smithton, Tasmania, and when they had nothing better to do, they would come and spar with my mother and father to show off how very clever they were. One of them said some very vulgar and crude remarks about my parents having 7 children,plus all that they thought about it and how the world should be run, etc. My mother said, "It is time for you to go home now. She opened the door, and as they were slightly pushed away by her, she said to them,"And, here's a piece of advice for you.Have a good evening, and, ah, don't worry about anything." If you had heard that delightful tone in which she said that, you would be stifling laughter all day long. I still laugh when I remember it. It was in the 60's when the new critical thinking and higher criticism became popular. She always acted like she was wiser than they, and told them the simplest things. She never let them bluff her or consternate her or put her off balance. That is something that many homemakers lack today. We need to teach them how to do it, ha ha.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Denise, I deleted the posts from that blog. Just make sure you check "anonymous" when you post.

Mrs.B. said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I so appreciate this.

Having no children and staying at home I hear some 'interesting' comments and every time I'm tempted to doubt what I'm doing, God sends something like this to remind me that He's happy with what I'm doing!...This time He used you!(o:

Anonymous said...

what an encouraging post! Thanks for this!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mrs Sherman,

I was so discouraged today but when I read your post it gave me a much needed lift. Sometimes it isn't even what people say but the fact that Lucifer tries so hard to throw things in the way to make fmaily life difficult. He uses neighbours who look down on our way of life sometimes. He helps neighbours complain about our kids and tell our kids that their parents shelter them too much. I have had some neighbours do just that...tell my kids that they are being sheltered too much.
Hey..even the neighbours kids are saying that. It can really throw things into confusion as you have to talk to your own kids etc and put your marriage under great stress through these attacks. Your article really encouraged me. I don't know why but I cam ehere today to see if you had written anything new. And I really felt as if I have had a draught of fresh encouragement. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I like the article. I thought that the idea of channeling would-be frustration from others' insults into something constructive was kind of funny (especially the "goodie basket" part). I also giggled a little bit about the paragraph about the mother who went so far as to clean her critical son's bedroom and went about "folding and putting things away while [he] berated her".

I also liked the bit about your mother going about her gardening while her neighbor came over "and just wanted to sit around and complain". (My mother has started a small vegetable garden of her own this year, which she mostly tends to in the evenings and on the weekends since she has a full-time job outside of the home. She also keeps a "compost" pile not very far from said garden, which mostly consists of leaves and fruit/veggie remains. Just out of curiosity, do you remember if your mother did anything similar to that?) I also liked your comment about how your mother also dealt with the college students from next door who came over to "spar" with her and your father. (You'd think maybe they could've used their "mouthing off" time to study or get jobs, if they didn't already have them, or something.)By the way, I have found myself repeatedly reading that article you wrote on the LAF site about your "unique mother". She sounds like a very interesting, not to mention resourceful person.

Anyway, I was quite intrigued by this article and I look forward to whatever else I may find next on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, not only is what you are suggesting wonderful but it is ALSO incredibly Christ-like. We must do good to those that hurt us even. Christ submitted himself in the worst of circumstances.

This past January I involved myself in a discussion with a my fiance's sisterinlaw who said some of the most foul and hateful things about my desire to be a homemaker. I respond by inviting her to lunch, smiling when I see her, and being nice to her in general. It hasnt won her over yet, believe me. She still declines my invitations, and slanders me to the rest of my fiance's family, and pretends to ignore me. I still love her as a sister in Christ however and will still continue to be nice to her :)

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

There are other things I wrote about my mother, and there may be some on this blog. One was about her shiny red hair and how it caused my Dad to "fall" for her from the roof. I don't remember where it is...

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

The students were also involved in a very strange paranormal "science." They tried to tell my parents that the chairs they were sitting on only existed in our minds. Mother tipped one of the students over and pulled the chair away from him. "I suppose you are imagining being dumped on the floor, too," she said.

Emma said...

Thank you so much. This is exactly what I needed this week.

Naomi said...

My youngest child is two and my oldest is 6. There is an expectation from family and others that I will return to work once my children are all in school. My husband and I are committed to my being home. It must be said though that it is very lonely. Even though I live in a small village and there is less pressure and many mothers do stay at home, many of them are out all day. It seems they have to justify their time by being involved a myriad of activities outside of the home. Nobody has time any longer to visit and be social.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, so much to say!
1. Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee actor) said,"Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize."
2. My mother (the eldest of 13) grew up in Queenstown, Tasmania. When I think of people condeming large families, I always wonder which person would you get rid of?
3. When the devil's niggling at my pride and I feel hurt or useless, I try to say a pray for the person who's hurt me. Sometimes it takes one Hail Mary, other times it can take a whole Rosary!
4. My MIL was a career woman who is very critical of me and once while she was visiting, I was deseeding tomatoes to get ready to plant next summer and she said, "I wish I had time to deseed tomatoes" and I replied, "I wish I had time to sit and watch someone deseed tomatoes." Which probably wasn't very nice of me, but it did stop her comments for a little while.
5. I've noticed for about the last 2 years I haven't mentioned going "back" to work. Thanks to you, LAF and Laine's Letters, I now have such delight in the vocation that the Lord has chosen for me, that I no longer think that the grass is greener on the other side.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
God Bless,

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Although I was home with my family when they were younger, I also noticed how easy it was to be out all the time. It was exhausting going to the barber, sports, book stores, art classes, music lessons. Finally I looked for as many ways as I could to do these things at home: I got a book and video on how to cut men's hair, and for years cut hair while they watched a video of their choice, played sports on their own sports equipment at home, got their own musical instruments, and art supplies along with instructions. It really cut down on the stress. It takes hours and hours of being at home to really get a sense of relaxation.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

A pity so many houses remain empty during the day. They pay their rent and payments and there is no one to stay in them and guard them and enjoy them. Those poor lonely houses!

Stacy said...

Oh, I am glad you wrote this. A friend of mine (who works) and I have discussed the Proverbs 31 woman and she brings up the part about how "she considers a field and buys it". I was interested to hear your note about the "field" and what that actually represented in that time. Thank you.
Also, that same friend has often said to me, "What will you do if your daughter (now 4) wants to work when she gets older? How will you respond?" I sincerely think she will not want to work; why would she?- if she is lovingly taught that being a wife and mother is her role; and will be the most enriching, fulfilling, and joyful job?

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Our daughter loved actual work and was always busy and industrious at home but never was tempted to get a job or a career. She didn't want to. She had no desire to because life at home was WONDERFUL.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I needed to hear that. The way you show love to those who only find fault is extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

Nice thoughts.

Sadly, somettimes always being nice to those who condemn you is equivilent to someone kicking you on the dance floor everytime you ask them to dance. I don't want to be kicked everytime I want to dance, so maybe trying to find another friend would be better. One can only take so much abuse in my opinion. After all, we aren't dying for everyone elses sins.

Esther said...

I am a divorced lady and still enjoy being a homemaker. I am not a wife but hold dear my role of being "a keeper at home."
When I was married my MIL gave me grief many times because I wanted to be a homemaker. I loved the book "Fascinating Womanhood" and I love the Bible and believe it.
I think the comments about getting busy and enjoy being a homemaker is the best defense against anyone who tries to discourage. I truly feel sorry for women that have to be in the work force and behave like men. They rarely enjoy their home and are often naggy towards their husbands because they are overburdened with masculine duties and so try to enlist help from their husbands for their feminine duties .... oh how wretched is that role blurring. I am just thankful that I can be a woman based on biblical principles....

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Whenever I am discouraged, I read this post. I have it bookmarked for that purpose. Thank you very much!


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