Blessed Insignificance

“So… what do you do?”

The question has been presented in various forms over the two years John and I have been married. I heard it again last weekend at the wedding we attended.

Before I answer, I ask myself, what do I do?

Thinking over my days I remember the many little things that fill them. Waking up while the morning is still crisp, snuggling with my husband and baby boy, eating breakfast of cereal with banana before John leaves for work, reading my Bible with Troy on my lap… doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, ironing…. planning menus, making grocery lists, having dinner ready when John gets home from work… holding and loving my precious baby boy, kissing poor tiny fingers pinched in baby toys–which will soon be scraped knees and cut fingers, changing many diapers a day, looking into Troy’s sweet little eyes as he nurses… enjoying conversations in the evening, ranging from computer networking to Bible doctrines… watching Troy enjoy his bath, then rocking and singing him to sleep… listening to John read God’s Word and praying together before drifting off to sleep…

“What do I do?” I reply with a smile. “I am a domestic engineer.”

“Oh. Wow.” The eyebrows go up. “And… do you enjoy that?”

Again I smile, unsure if this friend of a cousin understands what I mean in using the little phrase my mom coined when I was a little girl. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

A friend stopped by yesterday. We haven’t seen much of each other lately due to many short trips both of us have made. This was the girl who, in our high school years, was envied by many of the teenage girls in our church. Perhaps because of her naturally tiny shape, stylish clothes, coquettish ways? I don’t really know why we girls think some of the silly things we do.

We had a bit of an awkward visit yesterday. I listened for the first hour while she talked about all of the excursions she and her single sister have been making… weekends at the beach, visiting friends around the state and country. She told me about the cosmetology school she enrolled in, the house she just bought. She laughed as she told me about all the many guys who are just “crazy about her.” She talked of the clothes she’s been buying and the brands she loves.

Then she paused, sat back, and looked at me. “So what have you been doing? What’s up with you?”

“Well,” I began. “Not much. We just got back from a wedding in Minnesota, and we’re finally done with all these trips! I’ve just been kinda recovering from that… you know, laundry and cleaning up and stuff.”

I was met with a blank stare. For a moment there, I felt exactly like I did at fifteen when this same friend, who has become a dear friend in more recent years and with whom I laugh about our high school years now, would talk to me only if she had to, since I far, far from “cool.”  She said nothing. Just looked at me, waiting for me to say something else.

I took a breath. “Aaaand, taking care of Troy…. and…. stuff like that.” I laughed. There really wasn’t much else to say!

A  little half smile and a shrug. “Oh.”

This was one of those rare moments when I feel that my life is monotonous… humdrum… a little, perhaps, boring? I wanted to crawl upstairs with Troy and hide in a corner. The blank look, the shrug, the half smile. I felt so… insignificant. I didn’t have any wild times to talk about, or guys to report on,  or new clothes to sport. I just had the rhythm of my little life, not too full, not too crazy.

She left shortly after that, and I sat down on the couch where my friend, whom I do love dearly, had been sitting. I pulled Troy near to nurse him and thought about the visit. My heart was full of many different emotions, for many different reasons, not all relating to that conversation. But I still felt a tiny bit bruised from the encounter, and was rather surprised at my own reaction.

Then I looked down into the eyes of my baby boy. He was gazing up at me with more trust and little baby love than I ever could have imagined. I ran my hand across his soft head and held his hand in mine. My eyes started welling up.

As I sat there, John arrived home for his lunch break. He came and sat with me while I still fed Troy, and we talked together about his morning at work, my visit, and a few other topics. He put his arm around me and said, “The house sure looks nice. I like coming home when you have the music playing and candles lit.” I smiled at him, happy he had noticed my cleaning efforts of earlier in the morning.

It was quiet for a minute, then John looked down at Troy, stroked his little foot and said, in his cutest little mushy voice, “Isn’t he just the cutest thing?”

As I sat there, contemplating the events of the first half of the day, I became overwhelmed at God’s goodness to me. He has indeed given me everything and so much more than I ever could have asked for. He blesses me each morning with new mercies, a husband’s love, a little baby blessing to love and nurture, and a home to keep for His glory. What more could I want? The day to day tasks of my life may not hold much significance in the sight of others, but I can go to bed each night knowing that my husband considers himself a blessed man, and we are raising our little man to love Jesus with all of his heart. These are the things–the occupation–I have been given, and by God’s grace, I want to be a good steward of them, so that in the end, I can stand before Him and be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant… He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much… In as much as you’ve done it unto the least of these. you’ve done it unto Me.”

Written August 2006

14 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post. As a mom to a newborn and wife and homemaker, I really appreciate this. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Oh, I really really loved this post!
    You are so blessed, don’t worry about the others. They don’t know, and you do, and I do =)
    Just you continue to love God, your beautiful babies and your husband =)
    In Christ,
    åslaug

  3. Pingback: A Sweet Fragrance
  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, Ashleigh! I’m so grateful for your perspective.

    One day your little boys will rise up and call you blessed. But even more importantly, the Lord is pleased with the way you are giving your life away to serve Him by caring for and loving your husband and little boys. He sees all you are doing to sacrificially serve Him in secret. And He’s not going to forget any of it! Like you said, His commendation and reward is all that really matters.

    Thank you for writing for ylcf!

  5. sweetmomma says:

    This is such an awesome post Ashleigh! It’s very real and honest. I am just now really getting up and around with our three week old and can really relate to all that.
    Something this story really shows up is how no matter where you are, the enemy can still try to make you discontent and belittled. Married with children women can make the single women feel useless and empty unintentionally by their attitudes and conversation just as easy as single women can make married women feel insignificant and boring by their attitudes and conversation. Each has her place in the body of Messiah and I firmly believe that if we all did more talking about HIM and less about OURSELVES and OUR lives then we would all be able to see things a little clearer.
    There are many different parts to His Body sisters! Rejoice in what you have and where you are! Much Love!

  6. My mom is a stay at home mom and over the years I have watched many people belittle her for her decision to stay home and raise my two little brothers and myself. They ask her why she doesn’t work and earn money. They judge her and believe her to be insignificant. It’s not just people in the secular world, but church people too.

    But to me, my mom’s decision to stay home has meant the world. I’ve made many mistakes, but I’m sure many other mistakes have been prevented by her watchful eye. As much as I used to, and still on occasion do, resent her presence, I’d say that God has really blessed me through my mom.

    Ashleigh, this was such a beautiful post. The values of the fallen world we live in sure aren’t the same as the values of our eternal Father. I admit that I tend to cringe when my answer to what I choose to do with my time is “Bible study” or “praise and worship”. To many people those things are a waste of time that could be better spent doing something else or even sleeping!

    But in the end, I know that God’s highest priority for my life is my relationship with Him. That’s all that should truly matter to me: loving God and showing His love to others.

    Thanks for a wonderful, insightful post!

    God Bless,
    Iona

  7. Homemaking is such a beautiful task – I don’t understand women who don’t like it! Even though I’m single, I have spent a great deal of my adult life taking care of children. I’m used to people not understanding what I do and why I do it, and I really don’t care. I personally think you really haven’t lived until you have known the love of a child. At this time I am a private duty nurse for a severely disabled child. It’s hard to explain to people that this is just about the pinnacle of what I want to do with my life. I know the Lord will probably have different plans for me in the future, but I could be happy doing what I am doing right now for the rest of my life, because to Jesus, the “least of these” are the ones who really matter.

  8. Hi Ashleigh, this is such a beautiful post with so much Truth even now 3 years later…I heartily agree with the other girls that no vacation, no high brand of clothes, no huge career can compare to the Grace and Love that God gives us through a gift of motherhood and being a wife..I like Agnes have an empty nest, i am not married, don’t have any kids, and i am 30..but i am still serving the Lord joyfully (at least most of the time) and have a job that i love. And 1 time per year i try to go to a mission trip to New Orleans to help out with construction from Hurricane Katrina…i do so so pray that one day i’ll share a similar calling to you…and i praise the Lord for such a doting, wonderful, and loving mother such as you…I work in retail and too many times i see parents and children, with parents yelling at them so loudly..that it makes me sad..Other times i see parents that are firm yet so so loving with their kids…I can’t help but tell them how well behaved their kids are..that’s the least i can do in my profession without going over the line :))

    Ashleigh i wanted to also say that the Lord will richly bless you for all you do in your husband’s and Troy’s life…That is a wonderful calling , i look up to you…I pray the Lord gives me that kind of happiness and duty one day to be a mother, and wife, and keeper of the home….:)

    Blessings to you dear sister!!

    In His Love, Jane

  9. Ashleigh ~ *thank you.* I know it was written 3 years ago, but it brought tears to my eyes. The reality of it all. All around us is telling us that we must *do* something to be important, to be anybody, to be known. And even when we *know* that what we’re doing is what God wants us to do, it can still be hard. We can still lose focus. And that’s not good. . .it drags us down and makes us weak. So thank you, thank you, thank you. This really, really, really blessed me today. <3

  10. That was beautiful, Ashleigh…thank you for sharing. A mother’s work may not be very valued in the eyes of the world, but I think it is very precious in the eyes of God. I hope it is a work I will get to share in someday…but for now, I am very grateful for the faithful example of mothers like you and my own mama.

    Blessings,
    Kiersti

  11. I know this was written 3 years ago.. but how funny that the enemy uses the same lie of ‘insignificance’ on people whether they are single or married. I feel exactly the same way as you’ve described when married people ask me ‘how’s your love life?’ and look at me with concern because I’m 37 and still not married and don’t have kids. I have a career that God led me to, and that fulfils me (for the moment). I really do want kids and a husband, but God knows me and knows when the best time for that would be. I bet if that girl is still in the same position, perhaps 10 years from now, her view of you will be VERY different. I really admire young moms.. it takes maturity and great character to be a stable mom at such a young age and I know I couldn’t have done it!! OK, long post, sorry, but just to say you young moms have my utmost admiration.. God willing it will be me too one day!

  12. Great story Ashleigh.

    Sometimes the mudane things are looked down upon, and honestly I think homemaking fulltime could be rather boring. (I’ll find out when I get there I guess.) But I’m grateful that my mom used her life raising her kids and loving my dad. I know it has made a difference in my life and in the lives of my siblings, and Dad.

  13. Ashleigh, how very lucky you are to have realized that you are doing God’s work! I am sad to say that it has taken me longer. For the first few years of my children’s lives I felt such a divide between wanting to be home with my children and feeling pressure from the collective “everyone” to do something with my life. I have worked outside the home a few times and it has never worked for my family…. the house becomes a mess, the children felt neglected and dinner was never on the table before 7:30.

    I now proudly tell people that I am a homemaker. It is the hardest job I’ve every had, but the most fullfilling. I would much rather be remembered for being a good mother, a loving wife and keeping a warm, welcoming home, than for having great clothes and taking vacations. Clothes wear out and become out-dated….vacations have to end at some point…. Creating a beautiful life for those that you love is truly being the hands of God.

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