Keepers of the Home
Home can be a paradise, or it can be a prison. Women were made to be KEEPERS OF THE HOME. What is a keeper? A guard, a watch, a sentry. These words do not describe a weak, passive woman. They speak of strength, keen insight, and great responsibility! Home is our battlefront, ladies; we are gate-keepers. Are we keeping a prison or a paradise? Do people find rest in our presence, or are they glancing about for a way of escape? Do our attitudes and activities foster freedom or cause others to stumble? How well are we doing at protecting the minds and hearts of those inside our castle?
Let's be a generation of women who are unflinching keepers of our homes...offering welcome, rest, and love while barricading the doors to gossip, pride, and discontentment. -@DaughtersofPromise
Recently, our friends at Daughters of Promise posted this quote on their Instagram and the Influence Network hosted a class with Ashlee Proffitt on making a house a home which revolved around this passage:
The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not blasphemed. -Titus 2:3-5
Thus started my tentative journey into studying what it means to be a keeper of a home. First, a little background. Growing up in a traditional Russian, religious home, I was raised on a steady diet of ideas that a woman's role was in the home. Even though I am blessed to have parents who instilled in me the importance of education, including college, I was still exposed to a spectrum of subtle (and not so subtle!) hints that maybe my time was better spent learning to cook and husband hunting than taking a class in economics or going to law school. Now, there is nothing wrong with getting married young or choosing marriage and a family over college and/or a career. But to a girl like me, who grew up playing "business woman" and escaping into books while her friends were playing house with dolls and toy kitchens, the idea of being put into a box of wife/mother/homemaker literally gave me anxiety attacks.
So I delved into to my education. I refused to learn to cook (because older woman pointed out that being a good cook equated wife material), kept guys at a distance, subscribed to my fair share of feminist theories, ignored passages like the one above in Titus, and prayed for God not to force me into marriage until I could finish my education. Part of me was bitter, lamenting at how God could give me these amazing career and educational opportunities, and yet still expect me to fit into my church's ultra-traditional view of womanhood.
But God. Doesn't that phrase always transform us? He wrecked my misconceptions and pride in the best kind of way. He broke down the walls around my heart, one insecurity and fear at a time. For every tentative step I took in His direction, He took a dozen more towards me, until I could fully surrender my life to Him - even if it meant never having the successful career I dreamed of and instead raising ten kids in a cottage as a wife and mother (y'all, at some point, that is what my nightmares were made of, so this was a momentous step for me). But there was no lightening strike or something equally grandiose to mark the occasion.
More than two years have passed since then, and I'm still no closer to getting married (although the thought of marriage no longer scares me!), but something deeper happened: my heart changed. Slowly, God began to teach me His views on male-female relationships, the importance of praying for my future husband even in my single season, and most importantly that my role as a woman is not defined by whether I am a mom and wife, but as His daughter - first and foremost.
That's why today we're going to study what it means to be a keeper of your home (or as the NKJV says, "homemaker"), whether you live in a dorm with roommates, in your own apartment, or with your husband and/or kids.
The Greek word for "keepers at home" (KJV) in this passage of Titus 2 means caring for the home, keeper of the home, to guard the home. This exact phrase, "working at home" appears only this time in the Bible - a special calling for us women alone. In our study of the Proverbs 7 woman, we talk about the power we women have - from the way we dress, speak or even look at men. But, in today's society it's almost taboo to talk about the calling and responsibility women - single and married - have to the places we live. Let's save the women's roles in society discussion for a later day and just focus on what it means to keep your home.
Bloom where you are planted.
I have met many young women who wait until they're married to have a pretty home. On the other hand, there are married women who wait until their household income increases to really "nest." But a home is not made up of expensive furnishings, the presence of a husband, or whether you rent or own. I love this quote by Bailey Jean in her interview on Natalie Metrejean's blog:
I first heard the phrase “buy the fine china” a few years ago, and it was then that I resolved to do just that. Literally, I purchased a set of gorgeous dishes from Anthropologie when I moved out on my own, and they are some of my favorite things. I remember being sad and envious when my friends were engaged, having wedding showers, and registering for all kinds of gorgeous things to beautify their homes. I then thought, well huh… I don’t have to wait to have a man to make my home beautiful and inviting. It is one of my greatest joys to nest and have a retreat that I can come home to and invite people into, so my fine china is home décor and, literally, the beautiful dishes. -Bailey Jean
Ladies, let's cultivate a welcoming and beautiful home with what we have today. If you're on a budget, take advantage of estate sales, Goodwill, and your parent's garage to decorate. If you don't know how to cook, don't be ashamed of relying on a Crockpot or take out. If you live in a tiny, old apartment until your husband finishes grad school and you can afford something bigger, then bring in some fresh flowers and fill the house with love and joy.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. -Philippians 4:11-12
Stop comparing or wishing for someday. Make the most of what you have today and enjoy each season of life for what it offers (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
Let go of the idea of a perfect home.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. -1 Timothy 6:6-8
My mom told me a story about a young woman who married a missionary. Together, they moved to a village in Asia. The houses there had exposed doors and windows. Nonetheless, the woman brought some of her prized decor with her, including a beautiful carpet. She was so proud to welcome the women and children of the village into their beautifully decorated home. Until one day, a little boy accidentally peed on her couch. And the women - who didn't wear shoes and walked miles on muddy roads - wore out her carpet. The young woman grew increasingly upset, until she realized God was calling her to sacrifice the beauty of her home in order to minister and love on the people He put in her life (1 Peter 4:9). That's what love does - it welcomes you with all of it's imperfections and share the last of its food with a stranger.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. -Maya Angelou
Because it's not about how pretty something is, but how it makes people feel. I've been in homes that belong in a magazine, but it felt like I was in a museum. As a kid visiting those homes, I remember being afraid to breathe, let alone play, as not to mess something up. But I've also been in homes with toys strewn everywhere, worn out couches and plastic plates, and yet they were welcoming, and it felt like home.
Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. -Jeremiah 29:5
Yet, for a few years, we must pass through this world. When the Israelites were in exile, the Lord instructed them that although their living situation was temporary, and less than ideal, they were still to set down their roots, so to speak. We too are called to build homes and plant roots - even if it's temporary, so that in that we can glorify God by opening our homes in hospitality, raising our children, and praising God for His provisions and blessings.
Create a Godly culture in your home.
Keep your home in a way that reflects your values. When people walk into your home, what do they observe? Are you a collector of art? Books? Cookware? Expensive furnishings? Designer shoes?
What does your home say about your character? Are you a neat freak? A slob? A hoarder? A minimalist? Someone who loves color or prefers a sleek, black and white kind of world? Does your life revolve around the huge flat screen TV in your living room that is on 24/7 or does the well worn porch swing speak of deep conversations on summer nights?
The way you decorate and the activities you invite your guests to participate in speak volumes on who you are as a person. It takes time, intentionality, and a lot of prayer to cultivate a culture of love, godliness, and peace in your home.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. -Hebrews 13:2
Don't wait until your home is sparkling clean or until you finally learn to cook a gourmet meal to invite people into your home. Offer to host a Bible study. Loan your couch to a friend who is passing through town. Invite a young woman from your community over for tea. Everything God has given us in this world, we are called to share with others (Luke 14:12-14) - this includes our personal sanctuary, the food in our fridge, our time, and the empty chairs at our dining room table. Show hospitality - genuine and welcoming beats fancy and expensive every single time!
When you do invite people in your home, be on guard to what they bring into your home. From the books your children bring home to the conversations you have with friends over brunch, you are the guard at your front door. Be vigilant to keep away anything with demonic and sinful undertones (this applies primarily to entertainment), gossip, or anything that threatens to disturb the peace and godliness of your heart, family, and home. Be the mama bear that protects the sanctity of her home from the world.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. -Joshua 24:15
Friends, let us be women who open our hearts and homes to others. May the way we live - and where we live - point people to Christ, not to material possessions or pride. Because it's not about women's roles in society, marriage, or feminism. It's about a deeper calling and Biblical womanhood. Because out of the entire Bible and story of mankind, God reserved the calling to be keepers of our homes for us alone.
// images via Hope Engaged