"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Stress is a very real part of all of our lives. For some reason it seems that more and more people are breaking beneath the load---Christians included. My heart goes out for the many young women I talk to that are overwhelmed and burdened with their load.
You see, I know first-hand what it means to "break" under the load. I was a happy, fulfilled wife and mother. I was a pastor's wife with a church that was growing, people getting saved and many wonderful things happening in our lives when I broke under the load I was carrying. It took about 12 years of leaning on my Beloved in the darkness before my healing was complete. My post-depression verse is "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" (Song of Solomon 8:5a)
So, what is my advice to young wives and mothers busy trying to serve the Lord and be active for the Lord when they think they're about to snap? Listen closely dears, and I pray that you'll either not become as wounded as I did or that if you are already broken the Lord will use me as an instrument for His healing in your life.
1.) Don't confuse work with worship.
Before my husband took his first pastorate he was an assistant pastor. We were very active in our local church, we had four small children (ages 5-10) and we were living on a meager salary of $125 per week. I was absolutely full of joy and delighted in the Lord and my Christian life and walk each day. This was at a time when if you had looked at our life you would have wondered how! We literally had to pray in our gas money, food money and bill money every week.
My walk with the Lord was so very, very sweet. He was my Best Friend, my Confidante, and had my utter dependence. I spent time in the word of God daily just enjoying it and letting it feed me.
When my husband took the pastorate everything was much better for us financially. We actually had plenty of money to pay bills and buy the children clothing. I can remember being brought to tears because I had enough of the "essential" clothing for myself for the first time in years.
With the pastorate came all kinds of new duties for me. It seemed everything I asked about that wasn't being done my answer was "the pastor's wife does that". I was the church secretary, Jr. Church teacher, did all the bulletin boards, coordinated all church activities, did the missions board along with many other duties I hadn't had before. Looking back it would have been better left undone that my trying to do it all but I didn't. I was afraid it would look bad.
I had been homeschooling our youngest but now I was schooling all four. My husband's duties had grown so I had more to do for him. I had lots of company on a regular basis and bunked them and fed them!
Although I didn't realize it at the time I became a Martha instead of a Mary. I had lots of busy "church activities" in my life that were visible to all but it took something precious from me to be so busy at work for the Lord--my Mary life.
Did I read my Bible and pray? Yes, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't that sitting at His feet and soaking up His presence, praying as I laundered, praying as I did dishes, memorizing His word as I did dishes, spending time just talking to Him. Instead it was hurried and became almost a rote listing of my prayer requests. More and more I was apologizing to Him for not spending as much time with Him as I should be spending and found myself just counting the chapters that I'd read to make sure I was on track with my "daily Bible reading".
At the same time I was fighting some major spiritual battles and seeing some wonderful victories. However, fighting spiritual battles draws from you and I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with things that were stressful that never had been that traumatic to me.
Then there came the day that I crashed emotionally. No one around me but my husband knew about it at first but as time went on and I became worse and worse my children found out and then my family. I withdrew more and more as my emotional state worsened. My illness did some major damage to our home, our children and my husband's pastorate. I no longer was even able to carefully "watch" over the spiritual welfare of my family. My only prayer was "Help me."
We still live with some of the aftereffects today as a family. I ask the Lord to use it for His glory however He chooses and that is one of the reasons I'm writing this. WHATEVER you do, don't trade being busy serving the Lord as your worship of the Lord. Should we be busy for the Lord? --yes, yes, yes! but that takes us to the next point.
Spending time with the Lord is something we choose--Jesus Himself said to Martha, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Give the Lord His time--worship Him daily.
2. Live by design and by priority.
Do you know why I write this blog? I have become (not that I always like this) an older woman. Titus calls it an aged woman. (See Titus 2:1-5) I am told to teach the younger women certain things in the word of God. That's why I take the time to do it. I see young women with different levels of frustration and my heart yearns to get them to the point where they can find joy in what they're doing. Life doesn't give us a second round and if many of our frustrations are easily resolved then I want to see them resolved for young women.
Do you know why God made you as a woman? Do you know your Biblical role? Do you know what God wants you to give your attention to and what He designed for you not to give your attention to?
Let's just look at Titus 2:4. First young women are to be sober. That's being serious about what we need to be serious about. Your spiritual well-being is serious. Second to love their husbands, then to love their children, then to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands. Why? That the word of God be not blasphemed.
Now out of that list can you find things that require your personal attention that would consume time? Husbands? Children? A home?
Could we make a priority list here?
First, give the Lord the proper attention. Talk to Him, spend time with Him, confide in Him first, pour every trial, tear and trouble into His ear and then TRUST Him to supply your every need. Your spiritual needs, your emotional needs and your physical needs. Don't tell another soul till you've confided in Him and asked Him to help you stand perfect and complete in all His will in the situation. Then trust Him to do it in you and for you.
Second, give your husband the attention he needs. Now much of this overlaps. Husbands need their clothes laundered and their meals cooked and a nice clean home to live in but most of all your husband needs you to give him your love, loyalty and to run his home and raise his children in a way that honors his wishes for a home. We know what our husband wants (spoken and unspoken) and we should yield our will to his will. Each and every desire he has that is not a sin we should be doing our best to give him.
There were several activities my husband felt were unnecessary but I was afraid what people would think if I didn't do them and I ignored what he wanted. Although I've asked him to forgive me I still live with the fruit of not honoring his wishes.
Also, let your husband carry out his God-given role and you carry out yours. You are not loving your husband when you take on the role of bread-winner. If we're to trust the Lord with all and all then we must trust the Lord to lead our lives and meet our needs through our mate. God says that the man is to provide for his family and if he doesn't he is worse than an infidel. Don't think you're loving him by going out and getting a job in the world so you can pay the bills. You're not his mother--you're his sweetheart. You're not the other man in the house--you're the one he is to cherish and care for. Let him.
Today's young woman seems to be getting her role model from the world and the media. They are a facade. They put the woman in the man's world carrying out the man's role and make her look very successful at it. That is not true. Sit at a counseling table for any time at all and you'll find women are miserable trying to be men. God has a design and when we don't carry out things according to His design they break! Love your husband enough to let him be the man and you concentrate on being the woman--according to the Bible not the world. Make the Proverbs 31 women your number one role model. I've worked at it for 36 years and I still am falling short! It's a big order but a beautiful one!
Third, your children need your attention. You only have one time to raise them. Children need much care and that means they consume much of our time. A child "left to himself" (to send away, let loose, cast away, dismiss, give over) bringeth his mother to shame. Who have I sent my child to instead of taking personal responsibility for my child's rearing, teaching and training? The public school, tv, computer, cell phone, friends, a babysitter or daycare? They don't just need food and clothing and some "quality" time. They need us. They need Deuteronomy 6 rearing. We need to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord as we sit, walk and stand.
Fourth, our homes. The home is the domain of the woman. Study your Bible carefully about the woman. Her ministry is through the home--not outside of the home. That's where she cares for her husband so he can go out and pastor, evangelize, or teach. That's where she raises his children carefully so they are an honor to him. That's where she cooks for preachers, puts people up as they serve the Lord, sews little clothing to give to others, and the list (from the Bible) goes on and on. The home is the wonderful little piece of heaven God has given us to serve Him in as a woman.
When a woman goes outside of the home she is no longer following God's design for her and she'll get in trouble. I remember two different women that joined our church when I was a teen and they were always at church doing something. One lady wanted to run a van route, she went on visitation all the time, she went to every meeting at every church in the area. The other one was at the Christian school or at the church volunteering to do every extra piece of secretarial work or other work that she could find.
My mother was unimpressed. She said they were doing it to avoid their work God had given them at home. She would say, "Tami, always remember your mission field is at your feet. They're neglecting their husbands, children and homes in the name of serving God and God isn't honored with that." Before I was married both women were divorced and out of church.
Don't take my word for it. Do a Bible study and see where God has women ministering. If women are out of the home see what God says about them. If they are out of the home and in a spiritual position see what condition the nation was in spiritually at the time and see if God liked it. God made the man for the position of going out into the world and holding positions of leadership and authority and we're his helpmeet. We are to see to it that he can do his job efficiently and with our encouragement and help!
Count phone calls, internet time, and other "gates" out of your home as time out of the home. Remember God's warning about younger widows who have married and cast off their first faith? "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." (I tim. 5:13) The word learn means "to learn by use and practice, to be in the habit of" and the word idle means lazy, shunning from the labour which one ought to perform". If you're doing all the Bible tells you to do as a woman you won't have time for wandering from house to house (even by phone or internet) speaking things which you shouldn't be speaking.
What a beautiful place the Lord has given us to work. What a wonderful and varied life's work He has given us. Domestic skills (and the word "keepers" in Titus 2 means "working at home, caring for the home, the watch or keeper of the house, keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, a domestic") are some of the most wonderful skills to learn. Entire websites and blogs are dedicated to our lives--crafting, cooking, sewing, interior design, childcare, cleaning, and the list goes on and on and on. God put the love for the domestic things in a woman--feed that instinctive love He has given you. I love my chosen career. I love being able to use the home the Lord has given us to minister to those He has given me to care for and attend to.
So dear ones, if you are careful (to be anxious, to be troubled with cares, to seek to promote one's interest, to be annoyed in spirit), or troubled (disturbed, to be troubled in mind, disquieted) then I pray that you will come to the Lord and yield yourself completely to Him. If you've never yielded yourself to Him for salvation then that is the first and most important step of your life. He alone can wash away every sin, put His precious blood on you, enter your life and heart and save you from the destruction of being a sinner against God by saving your soul.
If you are saved then yield your all to Him and let Him have full control of your life. Agree to give up your plans, dreams, ideas, hopes, and possessions and put them in His care. Start a walk of sweet fellowship and friendship and choose to sit at His feet daily.
Remember there is no grace for anything you're doing that He hasn't chosen. You're on your own and let me assure you that the arm of flesh will fail you. Whatever God orders/prescribes for you He enables you to do and gives you grace and strength when your flesh fails you. "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Psalms 73:26)
I pray that this has given you new hope and new strength and perhaps for someone very stressed and worn out emotionally it will get you back to a pathway of joy and healing.