On Being Home (December 9, 2010)
I am finally getting around to writing a series on being a stay-at-home daughter, which I said I would write over a year ago. The main reason I have put it off so long is because there is so much to say on the subject and I don't feel qualified to be the one giving the advice because there is still so much I need to learn. However, I would like to share a few of my thoughts and experiences from this journey and hopefully encourage some of you who are already stay-at-home daughters as well as those of you who are considering alternatives to a college education. Before I begin this series, please note that my views do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Camp Commit staff.
Let me give you a little history. I was not raised with the idea that it would be beneficial for me to remain under my father's roof until marriage. My parents homeschooled my siblings and me all the way through high school and instilled in us solid, biblical views of the roles of men and women, but they had never given much thought as to whether sending their girls off to get a “higher education” was a wise course of action. Though my mother always emphasized homemaking skills and the blessings of being a stay-at-home mom, she naturally assumed that I would go to college, briefly pursue some sort of career, and soon thereafter marry and raise children. Growing up, the idea of going away to college was not exactly an attractive one to me, but I – like most people – considered it a necessary step toward adulthood.
By the time I was thirteen I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was going to be a full-time medical missionary. I would get my degree as a registered nurse and then live out the rest of my days on some foreign field spreading the Gospel of Christ, ministering to people's bodies and souls. No white apron, van full of kids, or cookie cutter house for me. I was going to make a difference in the world, and a family would just slow me down. Boy, has the Lord drastically changed my perspective in the last few years!
During my senior year in high school I enrolled in the general education classes at our community college in order to take the prerequisites for the nursing program. You know that saying that goes something like, “The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans”? Well, God certainly must have been laughing at me! To make a long story short, through a series of fortunate events, God showed me how different my ways were from His ways, and He graciously brought me to a point where I was finally willing to give up my notions of what my life should look like.
The biggest thing that changed my perspective was reading So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. If you have not read it, I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as you can. While I don't agree with all of their theology, and I believe their view on Salvation is wrong, the book deals more with the effects of feminism on our culture than with matters of doctrine and I think there is much to be gained from their insights. As I read the book by the Botkin sisters, I was continually challenged with biblical principles of what young women should do with their lives before marriage. While I took in their words, I realized just how much feminism had crept into my own life without me even realizing it. I was convicted by how far my idea of submission and a daughter's role was from God's idea. I realized that rather than seeking God's will, I had essentially been saying, “God, this is what I'm going to do. Are you going to help me here or not?”
The second thing that helped me reevaluate my views was a trip I took with a friend who was touring a Christian campus. Though the people there weren't participating in any obviously wicked activities, the girls were still caught up in short-term romances, they were deeply concerned about their image, they lived for the weekends when they could go out and have “fun,” and their opinions seemed to be based more on what other people would think of them than on God's Word. The people who were concerned with getting good grades and who studied more than they partied were termed “anti-social.” Though they are paying more than $16,000 a year in tuition, many of the students don't seem to care about how much debt they or their parents are getting into so that they can attend that college. Many see it as an opportunity to get away from home and make their own choices. And negative attitudes are not just coming from the students, either. Many of the classes, though taught by Christians, are full of humanistic viewpoints and feminist agendas which encourage girls to compete with and outdo men. After much prayer and study, I realized that was not an environment I wanted to subject myself to.
I had to take a hard look at my reasons for pursuing the nursing degree. What I discovered about myself was hard to swallow. Yes, I was trying to earn a medical degree to help other people, but I was also doing it for selfish reasons. I knew that there have already been thousands of people who have proved that homeschoolers are just as capable of succeeding in college as anyone else, but I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to prove that I was not only capable of succeeding, but that I was capable of <em>excelling</em> in my education. If things had gone according to my plan, I would have been finished with the nursing program by the time I was eighteen. I also would have been the first of my siblings to attend college and earn a degree (my two older brothers chose to attend a preaching school after graduating high school – which is, in my reformed opinion, way more valuable than any degree). I pushed myself so hard that eventually I lost sight of why I had wanted to pursue that particular degree in the first place.
Not only was pride getting in the way of my surrendering to God's will, but also my fear. Even after I realized how much better it would be to spend my time studying how to be a godly wife and mother and ministering to my own community, I feared what people would say. Having been homeschooled my whole life, I was used to people asking the same questions over and over (like, “Do you have any friends?” Or, “How can you be sure that you are staying on the same grade level as everyone else your age?” Or – every homeschooler's favorite – “Do you get to do school in your pajamas?”). But it was different when I decided not to attend college.
Before, when people asked questions, I knew the answer to them. I knew how to reply. “Yes, I do have friends. Yes, I am allowed to do school in my pajamas, but I don't like to. Yes, I take tests. No, the government is not the absolute authority when it comes to what is necessary to teach your children.” But suddenly I was at a loss as to how to answer these new questions that would come up. Like, “Do you think it is a sin for girls to go to college?” Or, “How can staying home be better than going to a foreign country and spreading God's Word?” Or, (my personal favorite), “How are you going to find someone to marry if you don't go to college???” It wasn't so much that I didn't know the answers to these questions; the problem was that I didn't know how to articulate my feelings on the subjects without offending the other person – and without sounding like a “sadly sheltered and naïve” girl.
Maybe those are some of the questions that are running through your mind right now. In this series I would like to answer those and other questions as best I can, relying on God's Word for how to live my life, not man's ideals or priorities. Before you write me off as an uptight, hyper-conservative who “would like to go back to the days when women were suppressed and abused” – stick with me for awhile. You may not agree with me, but at least you will get another perspective.
For His Glory,