FINDING JOY AND CONTENTMENT IN HOME LIFE
I. Role As Wives And Mothers In The Home.
This is a very relevant and important subject. It is and has been under attack in a very real way in our society, especially in the last forty years. I believe Satan is well aware that if we let our guards down in this area, he has gotten his foot in the door of our homes.
We want to define what the role is as wives and mothers. Starting in Genesis after God created Adam and Eve , He said in chapter 2 verse 24 :"Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh." We see the beginning of the first home. A short while later after Adam and Eve sinned, God was speaking again in chapter 3 -starting at verse 16-19. “To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”
These verses confirm the role of fathers and husbands that their responsibility is to provide for the physical needs of their wife and family. In Genesis 9:1 God said to Noah and his sons: "And God blessed Noe and his sons. And he said to them: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." And so we've had homes down through the centuries of time which consist of a father, a mother, and children.
Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous woman- looking after her household, caring for the needs of her children and husband. Start at verse 10 to verse 27. These verses give women something to strive for. Probably few woman ever attain such lofty ideals, but they can still try to do their best. Verses 13 to 24 speak of meeting physical needs of the family and of physical work. Then in verses 25 and 26 speaks of her character and spiritual qualities.
Now, going to the New Testament Titus 2:3-5. The older woman need to teach the younger. They need to prepare them for their place in the home. We'll be referring to these verses again.
I Timothy 5:14: "I will therefore that the younger women should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, give no occasion to the adversary to speak evil.” Are we convinced that the Bible defines clearly that the womens place is in the home and this is what God expects of wives and mothers? Do the influences of our day affect us? Sadly to say they do! As a child growing up in the 1960's and attending public school, There were very very few, that I remember, of any of my classmates whose mothers worked at a job. Even all the neighbors around us none of the mothers worked outside the home that I recalled. In our church, (which was a church of about 300), to my knowledge no wives or mothers worked away. In the 1960's there was a push for getting an education going to college to prepare for a career. And then iin the 1970's the women's liberation and equal rights, which started in the '20s, revved up.
I don't know what percent of mothers work at a job, but I believe it's quite high. Why? For the most part, they want greater buying power. More money to spend. Ladies do you feel that you are just a housewife and feel intimidated when others find out, that as a catholic, you have 4,6,8,or 10 children? Or do you praise our Heavenly Father for the true liberation you have and are you thankful for your place and work at home. Even yet when you meet old friends or extended family and you start comparing your lives, they will ask you how many grandchildren you have. I know a family, who when asked this question would tell them 23. People will express amazement and many will show pity in their faces.
II. How To Experience Joy And Contentment In That Role.
Joy is a must for every Christian in our everyday lives. The word Joy is found about 170 times in the Bible and if we include joyous or joyful there are many more. Contentment is mentioned about 30 times. I went to the dictionary and Joy means to experience great pleasure or delight. Contentment is to feel satisfied with our status or situation. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 reads like this: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” A couple verses that speak about contentment is Hebrews 13:15 : "Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have; for he hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee." Philippians 4:11 Paul says, "I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith." So it can be said, that the desire of the women should be to find great pleasure, (Joy) and feel satisfied with their situation in the home. I like the account of the Shunamite woman. II Kings 4:8-13. I like that phrase "I dwell in the midst of my own people." In other words, she was experiencing contentment.
Joy and contentment is an attitude, a thought pattern. Wives and mothers must choose to be thankful for their place in the home. Their joy is tested in adverse circumstance- the trial of sick children, the huge laundry piles, bushels of tomatoes to can, trying to stay within the budget, constant meal preparation, and the list could go on. You could probably name many more from your own experience. Do you choose to be cheerful and thankful? I believe if you are cheerful and thankful, you will be finding joy and contentment in home life.
III. The goal of finding Joy and contentment in home life.
Now I'd like to again refer to Titus 2:3-5 where it says older women should teach the younger. We see grandmothers are to be an example or role model to mothers and mothers have a responsibility to their daughters to teach them to enjoy homemaking, to prepare them for "guiding the house." I know not all Mothers and Wives enjoy the same things. Some prefer cooking over cleaning or some enjoy sewing more than others. But we need to do many things we don't particularly care for. And your daughters should not have to learn everything about the house when they marry. Maybe it would be best if through their teenage years they would help young mothers instead of getting jobs. I knew of some parents who had and have that goal and I believe it is a very worthwhile goal. Also, the phrase "to love their husbands, to love their children ", often the way you relate to your husband and children is the way your daughters will relate to their husbands and children. When you become a young mother, observe the older ladies in your parish and try to learn something from each of them. You will find that some you will want to be like and some you won't want to be like.
Another way to achieve your goal of finding joy and contentment is to be thankful for each child that comes into your home. Psalms 113:9 "He maketh the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children" Psalms 127:3-4 "behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb. As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of of them that have been shaken." These scriptures show us how God views children, and when they are placed in our home, we have full time work to teach and train them.
Our children know if they are loved and come before a sparkling clean house. Consider it a privilege to make a difference in the lives of each family member. The influence of a mother is immeasurable. We are molding future members of the Parish, school teachers, priest and Nuns, and members of society. Spend time with them, read to small children, talk to them, listen to them, and answer their questions. I know a mother with seven children, and each of them felt like they were special to her. When emotional needs are met when they are small, they are better prepared to face life.
Maybe another way to find Joy and Contentment in home life is to stay at home more. We live in such a fast-paced age where we go, go, go. Don't cut back on Mass. Let's keep our priorities straight. Are you going on another shopping trip? That's the second day this week. Or are you going to Tupperware parties and such like? Many of these appeal to our lustful nature and make us feel like we need things we would really be better off without.
Joy is found also in serving others. Open your home to schoolteachers, Priest, Nuns, etc as you are able. Visit the elderly in your parish. Make a meal for a new mother. Contentment is living within your budget. Don't expect to have all the material goods someone else has. That is a good place not to compare ourselves with others. I Timothy 6:6-8 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out. But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content."
I have also listed some rewards of having Joy and Contentment in home life. Here I'd like to read the verse in Proverbs 31:28 "Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her." In the Present- If mother is happy the rest of the family will probably be too. A relaxed atmosphere- meals on time and everyone looking forward to Daddy coming home.
In the future- Having good memories of putting our all into home life. When we look back, we should have fewer regrets. We won't need to think if only I could do it over, If only I had done more of this or that. Also seeing our children prospering in their home life and seeing them making a contribution to parish life and society. We can see our labor did make a difference.
And then the eternal rewards- I John verse four: "I have no greater grace than this, to hear that my children walk in truth." Matthew 25: 21,23-the parable of the talents. We want to hear the words. "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Also Revelations 22:14 "Blessed are they that do His commandments and that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city."