FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine
by Denise Sproul
Mothers and daughters today are under assault. They are told by the world that their future lies in getting a job and “making a difference.” There are battles out there, social ills that need to be remedied, and we all need to do our part. They are often told a similar tale in the church and given a similar charge: the exercise of dominion, the building of the kingdom is found in getting power jobs (well, they don’t often use the phrase ‘building the kingdom’ when giving this advice). It doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference if you’re a man or a woman – the advice is the same. It is a good and proper thing that we should defend and delight in the calling to be a wife and mother. This is fighting wisely, and it is most definitely Scriptural. But there is a danger in this approach as well.
We have often been, I’m afraid , teaching our daughters that life begins when they marry. Too often, for instance, our attempt at avoiding the emotional train wreck of dating leads to the emotional train wreck of courtship. That is, we allow or even encourage our daughters to get all giddy-eyed and light-headed because they’re in the safety of courtship and aren’t spending time alone with a young man out on dates. And they get to jump from having no ties to being engaged, and isn’t that exciting and romantic? This, by the way, is not meant to be a denunciation of the whole idea of courtship. There is a proper and healthy way to do it. It does mean, however, that we need to understand that life doesn’t begin for us or our daughters when they marry. Our daughters are not made to be Ladies in Waiting, but Ladies at Work.
Our daughters need to be taught now that they are now working to make manifest the reign of Christ, that they are now exercising dominion; that they are now under authority. This is the same for all believers, no matter what our ages, social standing, marital status or gifts. And what a blessing God has given in that there is a confluence of their work now and their work then. That is, they are actually at work as they are training to be wives and mothers. And they also learn the virtue of hard work. If they are being trained properly and are doing their work with all diligence, they know that it’s rigorous work now and then. It won’t come as a surprise to them later that they need to be prayerful, diligent, good planners, able to multi-task, and keep the best interests of their loved ones at the forefront of their minds.
But their comfort should not be that they are in training (which will make them all the more impatient for ‘someday’ – sigh) but that they are building the kingdom. They are not just storing up recipes in their recipe boxes to someday prepare for their princes, they are helping their own mother with the meal planning and cooking and are bringing a meal to a sick family at church. That’s building the kingdom now and not succumbing to the sin of thinking, “Someday when I have someone special to call my own, then my life will begin.”
Let me say that marrying my prince at 26, a month shy of 27, I can understand that temptation to despair and think one is just waiting for the day the God will answer her prayers and bring her a man. I know it is not easy to wait when you have not yet been given the desire of your heart. Nonetheless, that does not mean we are free to give in to that despondency and think there’s nothing we can do about it. There’s lots we can do: pray, read what God’s Word says about what we should all be doing now –and then set about doing it.
Practically speaking, as our daughters get older, they should take on more and more responsibility and be more and more productive. As mothers, we should, under our husbands’ guidance and authority, be purposefully planning and training for this increasing responsibility and productivity. Your eleven year old is not just going to wake up one morning knowing how to change the baby and feed him his breakfast. Your fourteen year old is not going to plan a week’s worth of suppers and figure out the groceries needed without you putting some effort into teaching her how to do that. And your sixteen year old is not going to diligently seek to be aware of prayer requests of those in the church and other loved ones and be faithfully praying for them if you haven’t modeled and taught her how to do that. We all have areas where we need to be more diligent with our children. The challenge is not getting slack and just coasting, but prayerfully considering what God would have you working on with each child.
Even now we have several young ladies in our own community who have been an enormous help to families such as ours. They are regularly involved in helping numerous families with various things, from cooking and cleaning to math tutoring and knitting instruction. They are busy now with their own families and others’, lending a hand and making manifest God’s kingdom now by making ten peanut butter sandwiches at a time on homemade bread or by taking a special needs child for a walk and showing her the beauty of God’s creation right outside her door. They are helping with newly adopted triplets’ nighttime feedings and are cooking supper and doing play-doh with a three-year old so that a new mother can take a much-needed rest. That is being about the business of kingdom building now and it is also preparing them for what their own future will hopefully hold. We pray that these godly, young, kingdom-building ladies will be blessed with godly husbands. But we pray that they will see their labors now as bearing great fruit. We pray in thanksgiving that our own daughters are seeing their godly examples. And we pray that our daughters will do the same as they grow older. We want them to be eager to marry, but to rejoice in their current calling. And to labor at it with all diligence.