Friday, January 7, 2011

The Burden of Guilt...

    As a woman, the world has convinced me that I’m not “doing my job” if my house isn’t spotless, the kids aren’t perfectly groomed, my husband isn’t wallowing in sexual bliss, I’m not earning a big fat pay check each week, and I’m not impeccable at all times.  Is it any wonder that so many women simply cannot find the contentment they know is just around the corner.  Or at the very least, available at the next shopping fix?   FYI ladies, retail therapy works only as well as the length of the walk to the car.  The clothes wear off and so does the feeling. (well, until the bill comes…another lump of guilt?)

    The burden of guilt, when we find that we’re not perfect, can be almost astoundingly overwhelming.  We find every pair of shoes left where the feet removed them to be some form of obstacle, or intentional slight. After all, WE’RE the ones going to be judged if “someone drops over”.  How often do people just “drop over”?  Not very often in my world.  There’s usually, at least, a courteous phone call in which I’d have every opportunity to pick up those shoes, or have the violator return to the scene of the crime to remove the evidence.  And yet, almost every time I find some perceived slight that would clue the world into my imperfections, I’ll feel at least a moment of my contentment slip away.  Why is that?  Does anyone else out there feel this way?

    Why is it that women, almost universally in the U.S., feel the need to not only run the household, but be singularly responsible for caring for everyone in the household, even if she has a perfectly capable partner living under the exact same roof?  Usually one who makes just as much, if not more, money than she does, yet works no more, or less, hours at their job.  Added to that, we must pile upon ourselves the burden of guilt to have groceries bought, dinner cooked, checkbook balanced, the kids doctor/dentist appointments at perfect six month intervals, hair and nails done, extracurricular activities down pat (and you know they must be the “right” extracurricular activities) and everyone must be happy about it.  Where did life teach us that this is living?!  I cannot fathom what mothers whose kids go to institutionalized learning must deal with when homework, after 8 hours of school, is factored into that hectic life pace.

     I hear those that say this is women’s liberation.  Really?!  Are you kidding me?  Sounds like women’s hell, to me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Really HEAR me.  If there are women out there, and I know there are, who LOVE the constant go of working 40 hours per week at a traditional job, taking care of the home, kids and checkbook, then more power to you woman!  I cheer and applaud you.  However, I’d say it’s pretty arguable, based on divorce rates and single moms, that this is, in fact, the norm. The status quo isn’t working. Women, and men, have lost their way…dare I say it…perhaps they’ve lost their place?!

     Women are nurturers.  We just are, we’ll have to deal with that.  We want to make things right (and I know “right” in that context is up for debate but work with me for a moment).  We enjoy a neat and tidy home, kids who are well versed and well dressed.  We like the security of knowing our checkbook is balanced, the bills are paid, and they’re going to stay that way.  We enjoy the comfort of a job well done and knowing we were instrumental in that.  The conundrum comes in when we burden ourselves so heavily that nothing is ever done well, and rarely on time.  Our homes become places of disorder, our work is good, but not great.  Dinners aren’t eaten together and family is placed on the back burner, while impressing others and driving the “nicest” car is placed firmly on the front burner.  Wearing the “right” outfit takes the place of having one that you love and can afford.  Our children become the coup d’ gra of the perfect image we want to project and God forbid if they aren’t comparatively doing “as well” as the mom whose respect we’d like to have. Our priorities are misplaced.

     Men are allowing women to run the show.  Yep, I went there.  Men have allowed themselves to lose their place in the home.  As the HEAD of it. As the one who makes decisions based on prayer, well thought out logic and what is truly best for his family as a whole. They’ve replaced that with golf, surfing the web, and the remote. Somewhere, we’ve allowed men to convince themselves their primary job is bringing in the money, and the women can handle the rest.  Us women are at fault for that.  Yep, I went there, too. We LIKE being in charge, but rarely are we completely capable of doing so on our own.  Be clear, I’m speaking in terms of families here.  A family has an order. We have a clear, concise order that when deviated from brings heartache, confusion and guilt that feels like a Mack truck weighing on our chests.  And frankly, us humans will do anything to remove that truck. Unfortunately, we don’t choose God’s way often enough.  We choose our way.  And we’ll always default back to the flesh. It feels good…for a season.  God’s way feels good forever.  That’s why He’s God.  :)

     God has a plan for each of us.  However, there are some of God’s plan that’s just plain universal and it works for ALL of us.  Women are the nurturers.  We’re the mothers, the caregivers.  We’re not designed to bear the burden of guilt alone, nor are we designed to be the head of our households.  We were designed as helpmate to our husbands.  Not as doormats…a helpmate.  We are the companions and counterparts to our husbands.  What a wonderful thing to be!  The world has told us that we’re “more”.  The world has told us that we “deserve” better.  Really?!  What could be better than having your partner, husband and lover that God gave you view you as his helpmate, his friend, his partner and equal?  Yes, equal.  Helper doesn’t mean less than.  Not in God’s eyes.  That’s the world talking to you, sister.

     It’s time we remove that cloak and burden of guilt and wallow in our contentment that we can find by honoring what God placed us here to be.  We can argue that that’s backwards…but, I’d staunchly disagree.  REALLY look around you.  Think of all the couples you know and really dig inside yourself.  How has the world’s view on women made us liberated?  How has trying to be everything , to everyone, liberated us?  How has this burden we’ve placed upon ourselves set us free to be who we want to be?  The answer is almost painfully obvious.  It simply has not.  It has entrapped us in chains and told us to be happy with them.  It’s told us what we should be, without caring about who we are.  I refuse them wholeheartedly.

     I’m David’s wife and the homeschooling mother of four.  My house in is order and my children’s laughter is ringing in the background.  We’re off for ice cream…and I’m content and thankful.

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