Fighting for joy in my life has always been a challenge. I often struggle with contentment in my present circumstances and wish for that “greener pasture” over yonder. When I meet the woman who seems to have it all together, or spend idle time browsing perfect homes on Pinterest, comparison will sneak into my heart and steal the joy I ought to be experiencing in my personal calling.
I count it a huge privilege that I am able to stay home full-time right now, and this will be an even greater gift if we are blessed with children. Even in this pre-child season though, finding joy as a homemaker can often be difficult for me.
I recently came across the story of Annie Hawks, the writer of the great hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Annie was a wife, mother, and homemaker. She was right in the throes of (what we could only assume) finding joy herself, when the famous words we often sing were brought to her mind. Annie writes, about 150 years ago:
“One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me.”
I love how Annie clearly understood her need for Jesus in order to persevere in the great and high calling of wife, mother, and homemaker. Sisters, we need Him every hour as well. So desperately!
Here are a few ways to help us (myself included) find joy as homemakers.
1) Keep an eternal perspective
Before I was married, I spent my time sharing the gospel with college students, and traveling the world. It was one of the most exciting seasons in my life! I was thrilled to marry Adam, but one of the most difficult transitions to married life was wrapping my head around the eternal significance of managing our home. Isn’t sharing the gospel with people in East Asia far more eternally significant than making sure my husband has clean socks?!
The importance of the home, and a woman’s role in relation to it, is mentioned all throughout Scripture. It is clearly something God cares about. It’s the wise woman who builds her house (Proverbs 14:1), and does her husband good, and not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12), loving her husband, and children…working at home…so that the Word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:4-5).
We ought to be faithfully serving our husbands, children, and homes with the perspective that our work will echo into eternity. There is so much more to our work than what the world measures as a success. Those we have been entrusted to care for are eternal, precious souls. The work we do at home, heartily for the Lord and not men, will last.
2) Reject what the culture tells you
I still cringe a little when someone asks me “So, what do you do, April?” Knowing how hostile our culture can be to women who choose not to work outside the home, I’m always a little nervous to answer this question. Sadly, I often feel the need to share about my years in full-time ministry, and time overseas, so they don’t think I’m a boring person who has no life. The fear of man lays quite the snare, doesn’t it (Proverbs 29:25)?
Our culture loves to believe that homemakers are useless, worthless, dreary people who live in constant monotony. In the world’s eyes, women who are career driven, and financially successful, gain much more respect than the ones who stay home wiping noses, training children, and cleaning toilets. (I do think it’s important to mention that Christian women who choose to work outside the home, for whatever reason that may be, can certainly live a life that is faithful to the Lord, and pleasing to Him.)
Sweet sister, be encouraged that Jesus knows it all. He sees your faithfulness to Him, your husband, your children, and your home. If you are His daughter, your worth is found solely in Him. Not what the culture thinks, and not even what your husband or children think. He has called you to this GLORIOUS task and He will equip you for it by His grace. Do so with joy!
3) Keep up with your responsibilities
One way I have found joy as a homemaker is to keep up with my various responsibilities. As I write this, I am running loads of laundry. I’m close to being done, and the only reason is because I keep setting the timer on my phone for 45-minute cycles. When the alarm sounds, I get up and keep the laundry moving. Before I began writing this post, I made sure the sink was empty of dirty dishes. When our next meal rolls around, I won’t have double dish duty. How can that not bring your heart joy?!
We are called to look well to the ways of our household, and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27). This simple task of keeping up with your responsibilities can be very effective in cultivating joy.
4) Pray for heart change
Your attitude has an enormous effect on the atmosphere of your home. A radical change of heart is needed if you continually find yourself lacking joy. God can (and wants to!) soften the hardest of hearts. We ought to be praying for a new heart, and a new spirit.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:26-28).
5) Look for glimpses of grace in your daily tasks
When we intentionally turn our hearts towards gratefulness, looking for God’s grace in our lives, we will begin to experience joy. It’s only by God’s grace that I have a home to care for, and dishes to clean that were just piled high with the most delicious meal. It’s only by God’s grace that we have clothing to wash, and a working washer and dryer to do the work.
It’s only by God’s grace that I have been given the gift of my husband who I have the privilege of serving, so he can then pastor the precious flock God has entrusted to Him. I don’t deserve any of this, and when my heart realizes that, joy comes.
6) Fill up your own tank with God’s Word daily
This is absolutely necessary as we seek joy in our homemaking. We must fill up our own tanks in order to continue pouring out into others. This will look differently from woman to woman, depending on the season they are in. Be careful not to compare your time in the Word with others, lest you be tempted towards pride or despair. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, open your Bible, and seek the Lord.
“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Psalm 105:4).
Let these words by Annie Hawks sink into your heart, and allow the Lord to preserve you as you work to His glory in your home.I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord; No tender voice like Thine can peace afford…