The work/ SAH dilemma
As a disclaimer, this is only my journey and does not equate to the plan God has for everyone’s life. I thought I’d write it down in case it could serve as encouragement in some way to anyone else.
After college I had jobs, but I have never had a “career”. Before we got married I told Jay that I would like to stay home for a while when our kids were young. So, I quit my job when I was about 6 months pregnant and was a stay at home mom for the next 6 years.
When my first child was 3 I started grad school which took me 4 years to finish instead of 2 because of my desire to be at home as much as possible, and because we had child number 2. There are so many reasons I wanted to go to grad school but one of the main reasons was because I am a good student. It’s too bad “student” can’t be a career, right? J No one wants to pay me to study things I find interesting and then take a test or give a report over it? No? Oh, ok just checking.
A few months before baby #2 turned 2 I started inquiring of the Lord what was supposed to be “next” in my life. Was my life to be more of what I had been doing (staying at home), or was I supposed to find a job? I had been applying to jobs at least once a month for about a year (since I finished grad school) at this point but wasn’t super serious about getting a job. But at the same time I started seriously seeking what God wanted next in my life, I started applying for jobs once or twice a week. I was searching the word of God for a black and white answer telling me what God’s plan was. In short, what I found was that women should be busy at home. The proverbs 31 woman turned her skills into a “job” and made money to buy land for her family. Adam and Eve “worked” in the garden before sin entered the world. Wives are supposed to be the “helpmeet” for their husbands. None of this was black and white enough for me. HAHA… God is patient with me, thank goodness!
I had a few call backs for jobs that didn’t pan out, and after a few months of trying to figure it out I told God I would stop trying my way. I still had a few applications out there, but I’m not going to press this anymore. If you want me to work, then you’ll have to make it happen. Since I still seemed unclear on moving forward, I assumed that meant God wanted me to keep walking where he currently had me.
A month or so went by, and I had a dear lady from church tell me to send my resume in because she had recommended me for a part-time job. She told me about the job, the hours, and the requirements, and I sent in my resume. Within a week I was interviewed and given the job. The original hours for the job were Monday through Thursday 9 to 1. My youngest would have to have childcare on Mondays, Tuesdays through Thursdays were covered. The lady who recommended me for this job told me to ask them if they would consider rearranging the hours to be completely during the hours I already had childcare covered. Guess what? They did!
So, currently I am a GED instructor at the community college where I live. I take my oldest to school and get done in time to go pick both my children up for the day. I mean God so creatively took care of all the details so I could still be busy at home. When my kids are away for the day, I am busy using my gifts and education to help others. I am still being my husband’s helpmeet. The last time I had this work/stay home conversation with my husband, he said, “If you stay home that will just mean I have to take Ansley to school everyday”. So clearly he thinks I’m more helpful when I’m working. ;) He stills stands by the promise that he totally doesn’t care whether I work or stay home. I have asked NUMEROUS times what he wants me to do and he never gives a definitive answer. I later talked to my cousin, who is also a minister’s wife and a SAHM. She was telling me that it’s funny how we put words in our husband’s mouths sometimes. She mentioned a time when she felt like she was not loving her husband well because with 3 young kids her house was not perfect. She felt he was upset about the situation. Her husband told her that he never said he expected her to have the house clean when he got home from work all he wanted was a kiss when he got home.
I know now, that I wanted Jay to tell me what to do because then I wouldn’t have to make the decision. I felt like there was a right answer and a wrong answer and if I chose poorly then I would royally mess up my family and God’s plans for my life. I continued to pray fervently about the situation and discuss it with a couple of close friends who also prayed for me. After a couple of weeks I really felt a peace about either outcome. I felt the Lord saying, “Jamie, they are both good options. Now, you go where your heart is telling you to go.” What freedom that gave me! I don’t know why we think that God puts us at a crossroads waiting for us to choose incorrectly so that he can punish us for being so stupid. That is definitely not a correct picture of the God who IS love and the one who extends greater grace than we can ever imagine.
So with my new freedom, I sent a letter stating I had enjoyed the year but was not planning to return for the following school year. It was hard, and I was nervous. But because of the life and ministries God has blessed our family with; I know that He is going to use it all for his glory and purpose. Ultimately that is all I want from my life. Yes, I would like to be a part of my children’s lives as much as I can. Yes, it would be awesome to start saving for colleges, weddings, and retirement. However, God says to trust Him for tomorrow’s worries because today has enough trouble of its own. God has never left me and has always proved he is faithful in good times and bad. If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is that my life is not for me. I am not given life to make myself comfortable. He has far greater things to accomplish then my comfort. Besides he wants to be my comfort not for me to find it in the things of this world. I want nothing but to be used by him to share the hope of the cross with the world. If I do that at home with my children, I have lived well. If I do that while working, then I have lived well.