The books have a way of growing and multiplying. We shift them around the house to new locations, boxing up the leisure books we don’t read and making new space for each fresh crop of research books. They flank my wife Julie as she works on her dissertation.
Life is different for us these days. All of our board games are boxed up down in the basement.
The books creep onto Julie’s desk and leap onto the dining room table.
They fill bags in the dining room on their way to and from the library.
The books are a constant presence, occupying more and more space in our home.
We’ve always had books around our house. We used to visit used book sales and pick up stacks of bestselling books for $.50 each. We dreamed of one day having a “library room” in our house. We even had one at one point, filling a room with shelves of books and our house rabbits, which, in retrospect, was not a good combination, since they chewed up everything on the bottom shelves.
Our home still revolves around books these days.
Some are the books I write.
Some are the books publishers send.
Many are the books Julie needs for her research.
Our callings fit hand and glove, and it’s not just because she is the single greatest development editor in the world. It’s not even my support for more and more bookshelves throughout the house.
Rather, my calling to write fits perfectly with Julie’s calling as an academic.
Need to move to Connecticut? Sure, I can write there!
Need to move to Ohio? Sure, I can write there!
Want to have a baby? Sure, I’m already working from home! We can work at home together with our baby!
As long as I’ve loved books, I’ve also hated working in cubicles. I can’t tell you why or how. I just know that it doesn’t click with who I am.
By the same token, Julie has known that her calling is to teach and research. She’s good at it. I don’t have to prove it or defend it to anyone. We both know it.
Most folks understand my calling and career choice. However, Julie’s calling outside of the home doesn’t always connect with others.
I’ve even heard some extremely progressive couples speak of a woman working outside the home as more of a necessity. There’s an assumption that a woman would only work if she really, really had to for the sake of finances. It’s as if we can’t believe that a woman would feel a calling to work outside the home—period.
Why would God call a mother away from her family?
There are the women who feel called to stay home and there are the women who feel the pinch of finances that force them to work.
While the women with a calling to work may be a minority, we don’t need to imagine too hard to understand what makes them tick.
Just imagine me sitting in a cubicle at a mortgage company and realizing that something God put in me is dying.
Imagine me sitting in an office at a nonprofit making phone calls while my notebook sits at home empty and unused.
Imagine me finally working on books, articles, and blog posts and feeling the freedom and joy of God’s calling in my life coming to fruition.
Now I want you to return to those stacks of books.
Imagine my wife leafing through one book after another reading overlooked literature that tells the stories of people who have been exploited and ignored. Imagine her writing papers and even a dissertation that uncovers an angle to our history that hasn’t been told… at least not yet.
Imagine my wife with a room of students who have just moved away from home. They think they know what they believe, but perhaps they haven’t ever had to substantiate anything. They need to learn critical thinking and how to shape an argument for a research paper. My wife sits among them, guiding them through their research and writing, ensuring they aren’t copying and pasting the ideas of others.
Who can deny my calling or her calling? One is not more sacred than another. Our callings are tied to who God made us to be.
To suggest that women can have a calling to work isn’t to negate their roles as mothers. By the same token, I have a calling to write that doesn’t negate my role as a father.
It would also be foolish to suggest that a woman without a career has failed in some way.
However, in our rush to affirm those who stay home with their children, let’s not forget that some women have callings outside of the home that simply begin and end with who God made them to be.
We don’t define ourselves by our work, but we do have an obligation to serve others in the spheres where God calls us. Whether that’s as a volunteer, a mother, or an employee, the paycheck or the title doesn’t matter.
We define our positions according to what God hands us.
What has God given you?
It brings me joy to see the stacks of books in our home. I’m encouraged in my own calling when I see my wife working hard to fulfill the calling God has given her.
I never measure her against another woman, wishing she baked more cakes just as I never look at a stay at home mother and wish she had a more high-powered position at a growing company.
I pray that stay at home mom has peace of mind as she takes her energetic kids to the playground and that they take good naps for her.
I pray that Julie can find all of the books she needs for her research.
And I pray that we’ll all find what God has called us to do and that we’ll have the courage to do it without concern over what others will think.
What has God called you to do? How has that calling been affirmed over the years?