September sunrises awaken with refreshingly cool air. Autumn sunsets showcase glory just past suppertime. Interrupting fall’s dawning beauty are marketing campaigns for new TV shows and movies which tell us the world is about to end as aliens invade and warming seas submerge our shores. And if you hear snippets of news at all or talk to others who do you know trust is at an all-time low and fear over the future of our country is at an all-time high.
Let’s talk about that fear.
Most of you are women who have believed in Jesus for salvation and have therefore acknowledged the Bible, His words to us, as true. This is a favorite verse of mine when I hear fears pumped into us by many with megaphones in media, science, and government.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease” said the Lord God (Genesis 8:22). The regular rhythm of seasons, the annual cycles of weather, planting, harvesting, and dormancy will remain constant. He promised. I believe His word.
A second verse that gives me calm in the midst of the current fear-based climate is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I believe this too and repeat it regularly.
So grab a pumpkin-spiced something as we look at God’s design for seasons in our lives as women.
Recently I had coffee with a dear friend, Carrie. Nothing pumpkin was yet available, so we sweetened our coffee with mocha and the chemistry of our always-instant connection. She’s a young 40-something mom of two and bursting with questions about parenting, marriage, and career. We feed each other’s souls. She gives me affirmation that I have a few things to say of value, and I give her affirmation that she’s not ruining her little ones! We also revisited the topic of finding value in the thankless, mundane, unseen season of motherhood.
I’ve spent many hours musing on this idea of seasons in a woman’s life as I’ve observed women on social media who are married with kids at home give so much time to their own ministries, blogs, conference speaking, book writing, seminar leading and careers. Some seem to be okay; others are not. I worry about them all.
I’ve wondered. What do we women from different generations have in common? What did I miss in my generation? What are they missing today? What is different about my friend’s and my daughter’s generation?
I have some observations. I also have some wisdom. I know their stories are not yet to the halfway mark while mine is nearing the later chapters. There will be an ending for us all. Will it be a happy faith-filled one?
I know I don’t know the ending or the answers we each seek. But I do know Someone who does. He knows all questions before we ask and He has answers for each one of us.
Being in Christ unites us as women
If you make a claim to godliness (1 Timothy 2:10) … and you have made that claim if you have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) … if you have been chosen and adopted by God (Ephesians 1:4) … if you have a seat at His table (Ephesians 2:6) … you are above all else His daughter. He is your Master, your Lord. His plan for your life is the one to discover and follow. Not your own or what everyone else is doing.
Important for this conversation is the truth that God deals with us as unique individuals. Though His redemption plan is for millions, He sees us as a Father sees His children, each one of a kind. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Every woman is created uniquely with a one-of-a-kind blend of gifts, talents, needs, and callings. God’s stated desire is for us to use what He has given in the works He has planned. He is Lord. We are not.
As Carrie and I sipped our needed afternoon fuel boost, I told her I think her generation has harder choices than mine. Here’s why.
In the 1970s, 80s and into the 90s, most Christian women who could afford financially to stay home full-time with their kids did so. There was comfort in knowing we weren’t alone, even if we never saw each other.
The culture, however, was shifting. The pressure to have a full-time job, a career, and to become equal with men in the world of work, was swiftly gaining momentum. I felt it as did most women in my generation. And now, I told Carrie, the change is here to stay.
I had no desire to have a career in the workplace, but I did want to change the world. And I did desire to develop my tiny talent as an artist. You can read my personal story here, but the most important facts are these:
- My life belonged then and now to Jesus Christ. All of my life, including my God-given gifts, abilities, talents and my limitations and weaknesses, were given to me to steward and subject to His intended purposes and plans.When I surrendered all, I surrendered all.
- My calling as a wife and mother were also His gifts to me. It was and is now His will that I steward these my people and these relationships.They are His.
- I believed then and now in His sovereign rule of the world and my little tiny life. It is His business to rule my life. It is mine to obey and follow.He makes eyes to see or be blind, ears to hear or be deaf (Exodus 4:11). The question I asked as I wrestled with my talents that seemed to be latent, unused, and dying was the same question asked of Jesus about the man born blind (John:1-12). Why would God give Him eyes but no sight? Why would God give me creativity, a desire to paint, but no expression? The answer for the blind man, for me and for all of us is the same. His intention, though it makes no sense to us at times, is that we might see the glory of God.
- I also believed then and now in the long view of life. I believed in seasons. Farmers have seasons of drought, of crops ruined by summer hailstorms, and they welcome other seasons of plenty and abundance.My years of bearing and raising children were a season. It would not last forever. I knew that. Believed that. And now it’s over.
Trusting God is not easy for me. I want to know the outcome. I want to know the whys. I want to see and understand what God is doing.
Do you too? But His wise and loving way is for us to trust Him, to walk by faith. Therefore when I decided to put away my paints, to set aside my artwork and the development of my talents, I chose to believe by faith that He knew best. I literally said to Him, “It is Your business what you want with my life. If You choose to give me talents and then choose not to use them, that’s Your call and I will trust You.”
When I set aside my painting, I did not quit being creative. I did not kill my desire to create any more than a person who is blind has surgery to remove his eyes. I continued to create but in ways that worked with God’s clear leading for me to invest first at home.
It seemed for so many years that the future would never come. I was swimming in children and their endless always-changing needs, along with marriage and husband needs, that I feared there would be nothing left of me when the last one left home. But just as surely as harvest follows harvest and autumn follows summer, so my season of mommying began to change.
What’s so beautiful about God’s seasonal timing is that He not only gave back the opportunity to paint as I started lessons while my youngest kids were in high school, but He also opened a door for writing, creating a product line, and more than I ever imagined in my 20s and 30s. Decades of parenting had matured me. Silently I had acquired wisdom. In those unseen hours and days of mundane toil and work, peppered with failures and begging prayers, God was quietly, steadily building endurance (James 1:3) and faith (Hebrews 11:1) and the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17).
Encouragement for your generation
I said earlier that I have a few observations for your generation. Not answers, remember?
1. If Jesus doesn’t return soon, or call you home, there will be other seasons in the future beyond the intensity of parenting for you to fully develop your gifts and talents for His purposes.
2. God’s Word makes it clear that some relationships are more important than others. We call those priorities and they are, in order: relationship with God, with spouse, and with children. Growing each of these takes lots of time. They cannot be fast tracked any more than growing acres of corn or wheat. Remember this promise: “In due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
3. Every woman’s purpose, circumstances and relationships are unique and one of a kind. I have four daughters and two daughters-in-law each with children still at home. All are at this time financially able, in various ways, to fully invest in their children. One daughter who has two children, both in elementary, is working full-time in the girls’ school because they need the extra income to save and buy a house someday. A daughter-in-law, with four children, has gone back to work part time now that their youngest just started kindergarten, both for extra income and to keep her dental hygienist skills sharp. And my oldest just got hired to lead the women’s ministry in her church. Her boys are all in school so she can do her ministry work during school hours and still be investing in the boys when they aren’t in school.
I have many other friends also in this season of life, who are working in ministries or jobs that fit with their family’s stages and needs, including Carrie, a free-lance designer who is often hired for small design projects she can do from home.
Rest in what God has for you. Don’t compare.
4. Ministry can become a mistress. This used to be true just for men but it is now equally true for women. From leading one’s own ministry to women, to being the women’s or children’s ministry director at your church, the struggle of balancing the needs of others with the needs of your own family and marriage is a very real challenge. Just as men have lost their marriages because they gave their lives to ministry, so women are now experiencing the same.
5. It is impossible to do it all. Even though we have more conveniences than ever, we also have almost endless of choices that eat time and energy and detract from what matters most: your three most important relationships … God, spouse, and children.
6. If you can afford it, you can pay to have someone clean your house, cooking your food, even do your laundry and gardening and yard work. But you can’t pay someone or delegate the work of marriage or parenting to others. God has made it abundantly clear in His word that it is our work, our stewardship to which we are called. We are His ambassadors, His runners in the relay race of the gospel. Your relay team is your family. Run that race well now.
Ecclesiastes 3 declares, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Have you surrendered to God’s timing and His work for you in this season of your life? Or are you trying to do it all?
A saint now residing in heaven once said,
“In all Christians, Christ is present.
In many Christians, Christ is prominent.
In a few Christians, Christ is pre-eminent.”
In your life, is Christ prominent or is He pre-eminent, which means He is Lord of all you do? Do you invite Him into every decision?
Who owns your life is the question we each must answer, no matter what season we are in.