I have the privilege of interacting with “on-the-job” wives and mothers who seek to put God’s law-word into action in their own lives and in the lives of their children. More often than not, I get to hear their litany of things that they consider they are not doing well in carrying out their calling. Their kitchen counters are too messy, their children are not up-to-date with their studies, or the laundry is piled way too high.
A Scripture comes to mind that I believe is relevant to this scenario. Proverbs 14:4 tells us,
Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
This means that if productive work is taking place, one should not expect everything to be in its place at all times.
Think about what a kitchen looks like when a meal is being prepared. Sometimes the sink has dirty dishes in it, and the stove and oven are in various stages of use. If we cannot tolerate a little disorder in the process of producing something valuable, then we will never produce anything.
The same holds true with the process of educating and raising children. Sometimes clothes maybe on the beds waiting to be put into drawers. Things of lesser priority should not take precedence over quality instructional time (academic or domestic). It all boils down to whose burden are you carrying? Jesus said,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30 ESV)
Too often we place burdens on ourselves (or allow others to place burdens on us) that are not mandated in Scripture. The burdens we must bear, and will be given grace to bear, are the commandments of God. When we get those right, all other things will fall into place.
So, the mother who has determined that she can’t have dirty dishes in the sink for more than five minutes needs to ask herself, is that a burden of her own making, or is it a God-given burden. If mom is overwhelmed by all the lessons and sporting events that have been placed on the schedule, she needs to resolve the matter honestly and openly with her husband. Sometimes this may mean reducing the number of lessons and/or sports that the children are involved in.
God doesn’t envision burned-out women who, while recovering from childbirth, are trying to win the title of Supermom. This doesn’t mean the family should abandon their educational choices during this season. Instead, the priority should be developing a realistic approach to the duties at hand, with ample consideration given to lessening the mother’s household chores.
In the end, we should listen to what Jesus told Martha when she complained that her sister wasn’t doing her fair share.
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42, ESV)
Martha was carrying a burden of her own making. Jesus corrected her and challenged her to put her focus elsewhere, on His yoke because His burden is light. In the same manner, if you are experiencing a heavy burden, it is wise to take inventory as to where your priorities lie. Because, if it is His you are carrying, you will notice that the burden is not heavy.