I’ve been reading a blog recently written by a young Jewish woman who grew up as a feminist, steeped in much of the liberalist mindset. When I read the things she writes now, I’m amazed at how completely her life has changed. She maintains a blog called “Domestic Felicity” and in the beginning I couldn’t understand how a woman as young as she is, with so little experience in marriage and motherhood, could touch my heart in so many ways, and teach me – a mother of five who has been married for seven years – so much about marriage and parenting. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. How was she able to step away from her liberalist background so completely and become such a sacrificial, submissive wife? Her writings ooze with joy and contentment, and it’s obvious that she loves her life as a stay at home wife and loves being a help-mate to her husband. The more I read, the more frustrated I became as well. HOW was she able to step into such a role after years of feminism? Why haven’t I had anywhere near the measure of success she seems to have had in this area? Tonight, I was pondering these questions once again when the answer suddenly became clear to me.
She chose it.
God has brought this up to me in other ways recently, but not until today did I see that choosing my lifestyle is not just about whether I will plant a garden, or make my children’s clothes. Choosing my lifestyle also means choosing what kind of person I am, and what kind of person I will become.
The woman whose blog has affected me so deeply left feminism to embrace her Jewish heritage. For her, this meant embracing Orthodox Judaism. She allowed her new-found identity to permeate everything about her – not just her doctrinal beliefs but her everyday life. When I embraced a relationship with God, my doctrines certainly changed, and many of my actions changed, but mine was mostly a change of theology, not identity. I brought into my Christian life all of my old habits and thought patterns and never actively sought to become a “new creation” on the inside. It’s not that my life didn’t change after my conversion – it changed in ways I never could have imagined. But most of my changes took place on the outside. I stopped watching television, changed the books I read and started dressing modestly. I quit my job to become a stay at home wife, and embraced the concept of children as blessings. But in all of this I was drawing around myself a cloak of good deeds without ever letting it change who I was on the inside. I became a Christian and brought with me all of my old habits and thought patterns and covered them with the outward works of righteousness. I maintained most of my sinful attitudes while practicing good deeds. The difference between me and my inspiring blogger? She embraced her internal role as a Godly woman and made it her identity.
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22).
For the first time in my Christian walk, I see clearly that becoming a Godly woman is a choice. It’s not just going to happen to me some day when I’m old enough, or have the right number of children. I’m not going to wake up one morning and become a submissive wife. I’m not going to get up one day and suddenly love to work hard and put others needs before my own. I must decide who I want to be and begin to act accordingly. If I want to become a submissive wife, then I must choose to respect and submit to my husband today. If I want to develop a servants heart, then I must serve and support my family today. As my husband likes to say: “spirituality is theology in practice.” Am I a feminist in Christian clothing? Or am I a Godly woman of meek and quiet spirit? I must begin to act like the person I want to become.
“Take off the corrupted old man, and be transformed in the spirit of your mind. Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:17-24).
I want to end this with a lovely quote from Anna’s blog, which will serve as a reminder to me in the weeks, months, and years ahead. She writes:
Our relationships are based on too little duty and way too much ‘moods’! Just think what we would come to if we only did what we felt like doing. Today I might feel inspired and uplifted and do my work with gusto. I sing while I cook and hang the laundry cheerfully. Tomorrow, I might not be in the mood – and then what? Should I just let the house go?
Some days, we feel like the kindest, most patient human beings. Then the next day, we feel like leashing out on our loved ones. So… should we just ‘go with what we feel’? Obviously, not. In the mood or not, we should prioritize and see what we must do – and then just do it, even if we don’t feel like it, patiently and preferably without grumbling. We rise above our fleeting little wishes and we do the right thing and give to others – and this is what makes our life meaningful.
Are there any of you who have been down this path before? What are some things that have helped you? Is there any advice you can give to those of us just beginning this journey?