Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

In praise of diligence October 12, 2009

Filed under: For moms,Household,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 8:58 pm

WESTF04513The advent of our third child and my concurrent leave from outside-the-home work have brought about some changes in our household – and in my observations of it.  A new baby means more stuff – car and bouncy seats, bibs, burp cloths, etc.  And since my normal consulting To-Do list is absent, the Growing Clutter and Chaos have been more of a focal point than they otherwise would be. My annoyance is high, and so is my sense that I should do something about it.  I’m quite organized and administrative in some ways – with correspondence, budgeting, photos.  In my day-to-day household life though, not so much. 

I realized that I lacked effective structure and systems to manage my household so I asked a friend similar to me in organizational style – and whose household seems ordered – if I could learn from her.  Have her show me her systems, recipe organization (she’s a great cook whereas I’m mediocre), and generally provide some inspiration and direction.  I observed and came away with ideas and tips, but mostly I learned that she works a lot harder than I do. That’s her secret: she’s diligent. I’m not. 

It’s true that my friend enjoys these pursuits; she loves cooking; she prizes cleanliness more than I do.  Still, since then I’ve been thinking a lot about diligence.  I’ve given it little attention since schoolgirl days when diligence meant finished homework and gold stars.  Diligence, defined as “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind…” doesn’t describe my homemaking efforts.

I like the business-oriented skills of the Proverbs 31 wife – buying a field, planning finances.  I’m good at those ones.  Too I resonate with her relational skills, speaking into people’s lives – my gifts fall in there.  Of course it helps that these are areas of life that the world prizes – marketplace accomplishments, work outside the home.  But the majority of her descriptors focus on intentional and effective homemaking. Since these aren’t my interest or passion, I’ve tended to minimize or even ignore them… which I can’t imagine pleases God too much.

Take Prov 31:17:  “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”  I have certainly not set about my household-related work vigorously, nor had strong arms for my tasks.  The tasks are oftentimes laborious: laundry, vacuuming, meal prep, cleaning the kitchen (endlessly).  I do these things, yes, but shoddily and halfheartedly.  I don’t do them with diligence, or with a thankful heart toward God that rejoices in the home he’s given me to manage and the people in it. 

Or Prov 31:27: “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  While I do watch over my household’s affairs, I don’t apply myself to it with the same effort as to many other aspects of daily life.  And “eating the bread of idleness” — let’s see, does checking Facebook for the 11th time instead of ever emptying the drying rack count?

The point here isn’t self-flagellation, and we moms do need to have realistic expectations and grace for ourselves. But what’s the balance of grace vs. diligence?  I’ve given myself more than enough grace.  What I need is a hefty dose of diligence to “earnestly and persistently” tend my home.  I need to give myself to this part of God’s calling on my life- managing my home life to the best of my ability.

Not long ago a friend posted on her frustration over a messy household following a particularly busy season (I could relate).  In letting it become so disordered, she lamented, how could she have so “let her family down?” (I could not relate).  I had never thought about the notion that a womans’ failing to keep her house in good order was a failure toward her family.  But according to Prov 31:27, it is, as many people’s wellbeing – physical, emotional, spiritual – is  impacted by the job we do.

So I’ve started praying that God would help me give myself fully to the in-home tasks He’s given me, and help me to do them with attention, diligence, and thanksgiving (and so far so good – definitely feeling his presence and the beginning of a new perspective).  Anyone want to join me?

[Editor’s note: for follow-up posts on homeward diligence, see Being Ruthless in Homemaking, The Two-Part Home, Vision and Planning in Motherhood, Diligence: the Big “E” on the Eye Chart , Lacking Homeward Diligence: the Background, and Adopting Homeward Diligence: Before and After]

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5 Responses to “In praise of diligence”

  1. Shauna Says:

    Susan,

    Great post. I too have recently starting praying for help in these areas as I have been feeling very overwhelmed and disappointed in myself for not doing a better job – especially with the prospect of picking up some work outside the home, on which I am definitely dragging my feet!!

    So, yes, I will join you!!

  2. caristone Says:

    Great post Susan. I’m challenged and inspired toward some change because of it.
    Cari

  3. Michelle Says:

    Um, yes. Sign me up!
    I am in the midst of a move and as I survey my landscape am quite disgusted – not too harsh of a word for how I feel – about how disheveled I have let my house become. Let alone how much stuff I have let accumulate with little to no attempt in years to give away, organize, sell, etc.

    There definitely comes a point in a protracted move process when you just give up on your current surroundings in hopes of starting fresh at the new one. But as each week passes, I am increasingly disappointed with my attitude that the current “home” doesn’t deserve my attention. I do feel it is “unfair” to my family and that I am letting them down by not creating a better environment, whether we are to be here for another day or week or month. Too much time and energy is getting lost each day just surveying the clutter and waiting for the move…
    I so appreciate the biblical references which helps my perspective. I am longing to have a simplified, Christ-like lifestyle with an emphasis on spiritual growth and service but unfortunately my current surroundings don’t reflect that. Good stewardship is my new mantra – of money, time, talent and environment. Hopefully that will lead to diligence and a joyful attitude…

  4. heartpondering Says:

    Thanks for the comments girls; all encouraging and affirming. Glad to have some company in my camp (though Michelle I will say that a major move constitutes, in my mind, a place where grace takes precedence over diligence for a woman!)

    When I went to take notes from my household-ordered friend I mentioned here, another friend came too as a fellow learner. Her comment was this: “I can so relate to pretty much all of this. Diligence is essential to my work at home and is something I am going to specifically pray for… I deactivated my Facebook account; since doing so I have felt much more focused at home.” I love the clear link she draws here: more web-time = less home focus (for her at least, and I think for many of us). What a wolf in sheep’s clothing technology can be for us moms as we strive to run our households! More on that in my next post…

  5. Taylor Says:

    Susan, I AM IN!

    Thanks for you honesty…

    Keep cranking (my new word?!!?) forward and allowing the change God brings in you to encourage many… already has and is.

    Here’s to doing dishes with joy! Who would have thought…


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