27 August 2017

What's Wrong with the Laundry Philosophy, Part 2


Yesterday, I gave one reason why the Laundry Philosophy is faulty as a mindset about life with regard to serving God. Today I want to name another reason.

The Laundry Philosophy is lacking because it ignores your passion, whether that's for meaningful work, a career, or even something as simple as volunteering.

If you don't find your fulfillment in changing diapers and scrubbing floors, the Philosophy says, then something's amiss. (With you, of course, not with the Philosophy. The Philosophy thrives on guilt.) In fact, better to nix the whole concept of personal fulfillment entirely; it leads to selfish ambition. You're not supposed to want anything for yourself. You are called to be a servant. Put aside your preferences. Die to self. (By the way, neither the words nor the concept of “die to self” appears anywhere in the Bible.)

I don't know why the dogma of self-abnegation sells faster than bake sale cookies among women in the church these days, but I do know that, like every other well-crafted lie, it has just enough truth to make it believable. The grain of truth, of course, is that the concept of servanthood is indeed all over the pages of Scripture, that we are to look out for the interests of others, that this does mean taking a pass on other things we would rather be doing, sometimes.

However, it doesn't mean giving up on your dreams and aspirations because you think you just aren't supposed to have any, or because the Bible commands men to be the sole breadwinners (it doesn't), or your kids will be scarred for life if you're not at home during all of their waking hours (they won't be).

Let's put a stop to this nonsense. What you want is important! (Oh yes, I really did just say that.)

I'm sure I just alienated a few people with that statement, so let me clarify something. I'm only inviting you to consider the possibilities. If home is your happy place, then by all means stay there. There's no shame in that.

But.

If you ever wonder if you could be doing something else with your life (and not out of guilt or obligation, but because you genuinely want to do more), don't immediately squash that feeling with thoughts of self-reproach, that you should be content just to keep up with the laundry/scrub your floors/take care of your kids/fill in the blank.

God made you, after all, and He knows perfectly well what you want. Not only that, but it's entirely possible that the desires of your heart are there because He placed them there. He gave you talents, gifts, and opportunities that aren't quite like anyone else's (and, if I had to guess, some of them have little to do with unpaid maid duties). Is it so much of a stretch to believe that, after giving you those gifts, He might then call on you to use them? (On a related note, today's book plug: A Woman's Place by Katelyn Beaty, managing editor of Christianity Today magazine. Read it, and I guarantee that you will never look at this issue the same way again.)

Someone else (Frederick Buechner, I think) has already summed up this point better than I could: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Whatever you do that you love, that energizes you, that makes you glad -- if you can write, if you can do advanced math, if you can speak in public, if you have a degree in something, there's a place that needs you. Give it a try; you never know what good may come of it.

Either way, the laundry pile will always be there when you come back.

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