Tuesday, May 28, 2013

College Bound? (Part Two)

The fourth post in my previous stay-at-home daughters series.

College for Girls - the eighth deadly sin? (part two)

Having spent a year taking classes at our community college, I can attest to the fact that it is very difficult to stay focused on the things of God while trying to keep your grades up. The amount of studying required gives you little time to be involved in your community, church or family life. The worldly environment (even on a Christian campus) can quickly wear you down and leave you feeling drained spiritually.

Not only does it leave little time for spiritual growth, but you also have to consider whether college is a wise use of your money. A typical degree can cost anywhere between $60,000 and $100,000. I came to the conclusion that being a good steward of God's money meant not wasting it on a degree that I didn't really need. Think about this: If you choose to go to college, unless you are extremely blessed financially, you will likely enter marriage with college debts. One way I believe I can support and help my future husband is by staying out of debt before marriage.

My biggest issue with college is not that it is inherently wrong. I have nothing against women being educated (though I honestly do not think that college gives you the highest education), and I do not claim that women should never go to college. However, my biggest complaint about college is how much valuable time it steals from young women. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17). Think how much you could accomplish in the four years that a typical degree requires! Think what a difference you could make if you chose to dedicate the years before marriage to serving Christ and His church rather than pursuing a degree and a career to satisfy your own desires! Satan wants to distract us from our purpose of serving God and bringing others to Him. I will dare to say that he has accomplished this in the lives of a staggering number of college students who have gotten caught up in the world's standards for success.

During the course of a conversation on college, generally most of the questions I receive begin with the phrase, “But what if...?” What if your husband dies? What if you never marry? What if your father loses his job and can no longer support you living at home?

First off, these are very real concerns and I do not want to treat them lightly. At the same time, I have no desire to live my life in fear. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). We could live our whole lives preparing for the worst, or we could use the time we've been given to focus on furthering God's Kingdom, knowing that God is on our side. For me, that means not wasting time in college or seeking a career. However, that does not mean that I could not step up to the plate, should a crisis occur, and contribute to the family's income. This last summer, my dad lost his job, and the reality of life hit me. Tragedy happens. Being a helpless damsel in distress is not an option. This trial gave me the perfect opportunity to practice my "survival skills".

When my dad lost his job, my family did not fear the future. We knew it would be tough for a while, but we never feared starvation or destitution. This was mostly due to our belief in God's faithfulness and provision for those who serve Him, but it was also due to my family's ability to work together to save and make money. My brother runs a lawn mowing business, my little sister is incredibly disciplined about saving money and will not ask for things she knows she can do without, my siblings and I do pet sitting and babysitting, my mom is a super saving genius and was able to cut our grocery bills in half. Sure, these were little things, but when we put it all together, it added up to a considerable amount of money. It is possible to make it financially without resorting to sending women out to the workforce to hold down a steady job, even when times are uncertain. It definitely takes more discipline and creativity, and possibly more hard work, but it keeps the family together which is more important to me than being able to afford a few meals out. The lessons I learned about how to save and make money from home were lessons that I would not have learned had I been at college during this time, and I am so grateful for that experience.

The Proverbs 31 woman made money. And not just when times were tough. She was a hard working woman and she received reward for her labors. I would never say that a woman cannot or should not learn how to make money. Quite the opposite, I believe girls should learn marketable skills. Obviously, a productive woman is something Scripture praises. But look at the jobs the Proverbs 31 woman did. She eagerly worked with wool and flax (vs. 13), she is skilled in cooking and could presumably make money selling her food (vs. 15.), she buys land and profits from the fruit of her labor (vs. 16), she is a seamstress (vs. 24), and above all she is not idle but looks after her household well (vs. 27). All her work was based from home where she was still available to her family and anyone who needed her. She was certainly industrious and creative, but she remained under the protection of her husband and did not enter the workforce, thereby abandoning her children to be raised by babysitters and public school teachers.

But this doesn't really answer the question, “What if you never marry?” Or my favorite question, “How will you meet someone if you don't go to college?” But I think these questions will take up a whole article all by themselves, so I will leave that for next time. For now consider this. What do you want to accomplish with your life? Do you want to make a real difference in the world? You are not going to make much of a difference if you do the same thing that everyone else does. It takes dedication and strength to stand against the world's ideas of what a young woman should do with her life, to instead cling to God's design, but it's worth every second of struggle in the end.

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