Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Do you have too much education?

A friend of mine asked me recently, "Do you ever feel like you have too much education to be a stay at home mom?"

She wasn't asking because she felt this way, but she's been hearing that idea from her university professors a lot recently. Since she's made it pretty clear that when she has children, she wants to stay at home with them, a lot of people have been asking her why she ever bothers to go to school.

I have to admit, having higher education and the possibility of getting a great job make the choice to stay home just a little tougher. There is definitely more of a pull towards the workplace when you are qualified to be there. But like I told my friend, I am totally willing to lay down my career to raise my children. After all, why should the workplace be more deserving of educated people than our own children? Being a mommy is not a job for a mindless dummy!

Until recently I have always picked up occasional shifts at the hospital, and we still are of the mindset that part time work isn't necessarily a bad thing. But we have always wanted for me to be consistently there for our children, for their normal day to day routine to be centered around home and our family. They are only young once, and the time is flying by so quickly. And there are so many things yet to teach them!

In this excerpt entitled, "But I Have a Graduate Degree," Elizabeth Elliott writes,
"A woman was asked to speak to the women students of a seminary about job opportunities for those with seminary degrees. She writes, "I talked to them first principally about being, doing, and going as God wills (not who am I, but whose am I). Then I listed both traditional and creative ways to fulfill needs in the Kingdom of God. Three feminists were offended especially that I should mention a nanny among the 70+ jobs. But Aristotle was a 'nanny' to Alexander the Great! These women had bought into the values of the world and were ready to fight for their ten years of executive computer programming. They said my talk had 'put them down more than any man's.'"

Theology means the study of God, but if an earned degree in that field confers a position in life which makes servanthood "beneath us" (three women felt "put down"), something is badly amiss. "The servant is not greater than his master," Jesus said. "Once you have realized these things, you will find your happiness in doing them" (John 13:16,17, PHILLIPS).

Happiness--never mind the "status" of the job. The disciples had been occupied with petty rivalries and questions about greatness. Jesus, "with the full knowledge that the Father had put everything into His hands" (John 13:3, PHILLIPS), took into those hands the dusty, calloused feet of each of the twelve, washed them, and dried them with a towel. It was His happiness to do the will of His Father, but it was a shock to those rugged men. The washing of feet hadn't occurred to them as coming under that heading, I suppose, even though they had heard the principle before. I can imagine the bewilderment on their faces. Can't you just hear Peter's tone as he says, "You, Lord, washing my feet?" (v. 6, NEB)."

Yes, at times the life of a stay at home mommy closely resembles "servanthood," doesn't it? :) I find myself getting frustrated over the constant need to sweep under the kitchen table, the clothes scattered all over the floor, the toothpaste blobs in the sink. You've been there. You know. Sometimes I feel like a maid. I admit it - I do. But I also recognize that the Lord Jesus was much more of a servant than I'll ever be. He willingly stooped so low to become like me, not just to wash my feet, but to offer Himself as a sacrifice for me. For me, a thankless creature, one who all too often takes His sacrifice for granted. And now He asks me to serve.

It is easy to be fooled by the call of monetary rewards, the promises of fulfillment to be had in finding a career outside of your home. Staying at home, raising little ones, well, there's not always immediate success to be seen, is there? But children are not taught the ways of the Lord just by osmosis; it takes some careful, deliberate, and prayerful planning and work. And if my education helps me be a better mom, gives me better skills to face the job, then praise the Lord!


Kelly said...

Thanks for those thoughts, Rachel. I have always felt there is so much more to education than just the concepts we learn IN the classroom. There are lessons in perseverance & commitment, organization, time management...and don't forget the lessons we learn in trusting the Lord to provide when our budgets are less than we would hope when we are in school. There are so many things that an "educated" woman has to offer her family and her children. Even if the degree is never used in the secular world, those lessons can, and do, benefit her family.

HopiQ said...

Beautifully put.

The Lord is here in our homes, our place of ministry (even as Jacob said, "The Lord was here and I did not know it.") It truly is a high calling from the Lord.

Reagan said...

That's awesome, and so true!

dave & rachel said...

I laughed as I read through this again this didn't all come out like I wanted it to. Oops. :(

The more I think about it, the less I am sure that higher education makes it any harder to stay home. I realized I was purely speaking from personal experience. There is plenty of secular employment to be found, regardless of educational levels, you know? And we all have to listen to the ladies in business suits in the grocery stores shake their heads and say, "I could never stay home with my kids!" whether we went to college or not. There is a certain amount of pressure on all of us.

What I do know, for myself anyway, is that having a nursing degree, and working so hard to get it and staying proficient in my skills, made it more difficult for ME to let it go completely.

You can kinda understand where people are coming from when they question your decisions about staying home...because from a worldly perspective, it doesn't necessarily make sense.

"What if you get a divorce? Then what will you do when you have no skills?" they ask, oh and,

"What about retirement? You're not earning any benefits for YOU?"


Thankfully, we can trust in the LORD to take care of our futures and provide for our families. It may not make the best financial sense, but it will be worth it.

Eryn said...

thank you rachel, now i must go and sweep under my table....(seriously, reading this post reminded me of how gross it is and how i forgot to sweep it this morning)

Christina said...

Thanks for posting this, Rachel. I've been struggeling with not "working" lately. I think the main dissatisfaction with being a stay-at-home mom is that there's really no one there rewarding me for my work; no raises, no pats on the back, no sense of accomplishment from completing a task (let's face it, the laundry is never going to be "done"!) It's my own selfish desires that make it so hard, my want for praise and acknowledgment! It's such an encouragement to be reminded that the earthly compensation doesn't even compare to the spiritual benefits received by following the conviction God has given me to stay home with my children.

Kari-On said...

THis really encouraged me Rachel. I appreciate the time and energy you put into writing this all down. Such a great thought, esp for me lately. My mind fights against being a SAHM. My heart loves IT! Its so rewarding teaching Edward and seeing him learn.

BTW - Your blog on your sis moving made me cry. I'll be praying for you and your family. Its so hard being so far from loved ones.

MagenRanae said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Rachel! It has refreshed me to answer the day-to-day questions! :)

meesh said...

Thanks Rachel! This is really encouraging! It is fun to think how the Lord uses everything in our lives to shape us into who we are, and who knows how He plans to use it in our lives now, or down the road. I am glad I went to college for four years, if for no other reason than meeting Andrew there! I couldn't ask for a more amazing man to spend my life with! God is so good to us!