“I’m going to do something important with my life,” she* said, eyes bright with hopes and dreams. “I don’t want to have a normal life. I don’t want to just sit at home and be a normal American Mennonite woman. I want to do things, to make my life count. I don’t want to put my time into a nice house and lawn; to waste my time and money shopping and scrap-booking and drinking coffee. I don’t want to just get married and raise a family and enjoy life. How can people just sit and do nothing while the world is going to wreck and ruin around them? Why can’t we do something about it? How can people be content to just go to work and come home and make a comfortable life for themselves? Surely those people that go to the mission field are heroic, godly people, sacrificing their all for Jesus.”
I hear that girl. In some ways, I was her once. But life and experiences and perspective have changed those ideals.
When your husband cheerfully goes to work every day, and you both do your part to live on one income, so you can stay home with your children, suddenly the whole go-to-work-and-come-home routine looks different. For one thing, the money goes to pay the bills, and you live from paycheck to paycheck, carefully budgeting to make things stretch. Just because we live in North America does not equal richness. I’m not denying however, that we live higher then parts of the world, but there are parts of the world that live higher in material things then we do. But what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s a “Hudson Taylor” faith walk for trusting God for our needs, even in “rich” North America.
In reading and hearing from those that have gone overseas to live and share the gospel, I am amazed at how much their lives are like mine. They do dishes and laundry. They try to make their homes a haven for their families, and a place of hospitality for others. They struggle with the same feelings of inadequacy, and wondering if they are really making a difference. They have child raising questions and difficulties. They struggle with living in a different culture, perhaps in a different and more intense way then I do, but the bottom line isn’t that much different. They go out to coffee shops with friends, and get together with others for recreation times. Basically, they do the same things I do. They live out their lives for Jesus just like I do here at home.
Basically, when you strip away “things”, life and human thoughts, here or anywhere else on the globe, aren't that much different. I realize there is a difference in places ravaged by war, disease, famine, and natural disaster, but if those things happened here, to me, my life would be lots different too.
Women in all cultures like to have their house pretty and respectable. I'm not talking huge and fancy, I'm talking clean, and creative with their decorating resources. They like to get together with friends, visiting and doing things. I'm pretty sure they even go to market (think shopping) together.
And raising a family is the most important thing you can do. Godly children can shine the Light in their generation. Hudson Taylor** had a mother too. She never went overseas; I doubt she traveled very far in her lifetime, but she perhaps did more for the Kingdom of God then we think.
So to you young women, with your dreams and ideals, keep dreaming. Those are good ambitions. But in the meantime, dig in right where you are now. You will be doing essentially the same things the rest of your life, no matter where you live. “Wherever God has you, be all there,” our pastor said once. Such sound advice.
* ‘She’ is a composite of many people I have heard in person, or been myself. I'm not thinking of any one person.
** Hudson Taylor was used in this article because he is a recognizable figure. I have a few issues with how he handled things, particularly with his family. But I recognize that God used him in spite of human failings.