When others find out that I am a homeschooling mom, one of their first questions will be, “When do you get time for yourself?” As I have reflected on my answer, I realize how prone I am to accepting their judgments that my life is not fulfilled unless I have personal time to do what I want to do. It is easy to buy into the “what about me?” mentality because it is most certainly the bent of my flesh. Because of this, it has been necessary for me to go to Jesus with questions about my time, my focus, my energy, my expectations, and my needs. In this series of Mom’s Corners on hard work, I am sharing with you what the Lord has put on my heart concerning these issues.
“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:9-10). This sounds to me like a busy woman—one who has worked hard all of her life as she obediently followed Christ. There is no mention of anything she did for herself but only what she did in service to others that qualifies her for care from the church in widowhood. We see a picture of a woman, with her heart fully focused on the Lord, who spends her time in serving others.
Use of our time such as 1 Timothy 5:9-10 describes is of eternal value. This investment of our energy is where we are to find joy and fulfillment rather than in a quest for personal time, fun, or entertainment.
“But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:11-15).
In these verses, I believe we see the possible results of a self-focus in our lives as women: idleness, tattlers, and busybodies. Perhaps today we have a tendency to wander more from house to house via computers, but the idea still applies. These qualities are not held in esteem in these verses, but rather they are presenting a condemnation of this kind of selfishness and its outcome.
The direction, then, to keep from this kind of sin is to marry, bear children, and guide the house. In other words, the young widow is to be productive with her time in her own home. It sounds much like being a busy homeschool mom to me. Raising children and keeping house are encouraged as fruitful activities that cause Satan not to be able to speak reproachfully of us. My first priority is to be my family and my home. It is not to be getting time for my entertainment, hobbies, or fun.
My heart cry in these Mom’s Corners is to encourage each of us that the busyness of our lives, if it is spent in service to our family, is a good thing. It is what Jesus is calling us to do. If we are feeling overwhelmed, it may mean we need to go to the Lord and to our husbands to reevaluate priorities. Titus 2:4-5 makes it clear that our service begins in our homes, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). Too often, moms struggle not because of their daily work and homeschooling, but because of other responsibilities they have taken upon themselves.
Rather than the feelings and disappointment that go with not having quantities of leisure time, I would like to suggest that we embrace the workload we have with diligence, determination, and joy. We are told that everything we do we are to do as unto the Lord. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). It is hard for me to justify time spent in personal pursuits as being done unto the Lord if there is still serving of my family to be done.
Again, I want to emphasize that I am not saying we will never be able to spend time doing what we would choose to do, that we will never be able to relax, or that we should ruin our health by continual overworking. Instead, I am encouraging an acceptance of the workload we have been given with a focus on Jesus and on serving. In the midst of this, the Lord will give opportunities for what we like to do, and He will bring physical rest. He gives rest to our souls when our hearts are turned to Him rather than to ourselves. When my focus is on me, there is never enough ease or entertainment. I think if we want contentment in the calling God has given to us, we must receive the work before us and look away from “what about me?”
The question looms before me as it is regularly repeated from well-meaning friends: “When do you get time for yourself?” My response depends on the focus of my heart. I can begrudge what Jesus has called me to do. I can resent the gobbling of time that homeschooling my children takes. I can resist the workload of my homemaking tasks. I can be disappointed if I don’t get time for my own fun or pleasures. On the other hand, I can be filled with delight that I am able to homeschool. I can view each minute I have with my children as an opportunity to turn their hearts to Jesus. I can rejoice over every act of service I am able to offer my husband and my children. I can say, “Lord, my time is Your time. Use it as You will,” trusting Him fully with my life.