Mean and Messy

Caryn: Okay. So in the event any of you doubt the necessity of the Mommy Revolution—or in case any of you think Carla and I make up the stuff that has spurred us to action here (though, come to think of it: have we talked much about our “stuff” here…?)—I wanted to share with you all a few choice comments recently posted at www.todayschristianwoman.com. Home of a lovely magazine that—above all else, really—knows how to pick mom columists (wouldn’t you agree, Carla?).

But anyway, the comments I read were on an article called “Domestically Challenged,” which is a roundtable discussion between four wonderful and beautiful and talented and loving, godly women who just so happen to be—as the title implies—maybe not so great at keeping a perfect home.

Two of those messy women also  just so happen to be me and Carla. Along with our new friend Tricia Goyer and our old friend Ginger Kolbaba we talk about meeting expectations, following God’s calling, wondering if a messy house equals a messy soul, and all sorts of good stuff.  Essentially, each of us comes clean about being messy. We each try to talk about this in as transparent, honest, humble, and vulnerable–not to mention funny–ways as we can.

So naturally—in the long, sad tradition of Christians everywhere—being that we were transparent, honest, humble, and vulnerable, we got roundly criticized and attacked by our brothers and sisters. Aaaah, the body of Christ.

I gotta say, it actually all started out amusing as I read comment after comment from women who found us whiney or from those who said they worked full-time and had no problem keeping their homes spic and span, yada, yada. Whatever.

But then it just kept getting worse: meaner, harsher, more ridiculous and offensive.  To tell you the truth, I still don’t know whether I want to hug these misguided women and quietly read them the story of Mary and Martha and my Jesus, maybe gently look at the Proverbs 31 Woman together, lovingly discuss the notions of Freedom in Christ, of Grace and Truth. OR, if I want to grab these women, shake them, and yell the stories of Mary, Martha, and my Jesus and scream-read poem-y proverb into their faces (though this is rarely an effective technique, I realize).

I don’t know whether to be sad or angry or both. Maybe you can help. Here are a few samples:

This article was pretty disappointing for a group of christian women. What happened to our priorities as outlined in the bible? It sounded like such a bunch of griping. Stop doing so many other activities and take care of you homes. It does not have to be spotless 24/7, and there will be seasons of life when it is messier than you would like (caring for several small children or an aging parent), however, those are the exception, not the rule. I am doing a study of the Proverbs 31 women this year and was so excited when the magazine arrived, but amazed these were christian women who had given up on the 1st mission field, their homes.
–Chris

Two adults in a house should be able to maintain some level of organization and cleanliness. And paying for someone else to clean your house? Seriously, you are out making money so you can pay someone else to look after your own nest. I fail to see the advantage or where the household is getting ahead. The only thing they are getting more of is stress. Raising our own children is a Biblical commandment, even if cleanliness isn’t.
–MADeland

It is my God-given duty to care for my family and my home, and I want to fulfill my job to the best of my ability. … How could I effectively homeschool if my house is trashed? How am I showing that I am caring and responsible to my family? … These women in the article need to look at the duties of their families first and stop the excuses!!
–T.J.

I was surprised at the rate of excuses coming from these women you picked regarding this topic. Not one of them is a FULL-TIME, stay-at-home Mom. What type of example are we setting for the next generation of Mothers and Fathers? We have an example to set and that is the ONLY thing that carries on from one generation to the next. If domestically challenged is the issue from women you interviewed that have competion coming from numerous directions, then of course they are challenged. I am a DAUGHTER of God FIRST, a WIFE SECOND, a MOTHER THIRD…….everything else can wait for the next season in life. The family organization is dependent on the Mother. It is TIME FOR THE MOTHER TO STEP BACK INTO THE JOB GOD ENTITLED HER TO BECOME and be the foundation of the family. I do believe that if your home is a mess….you are too. Going in too many directions is unhealthy for everyone. Superwoman mentality is rampant in this Country and our children are suffering for it.
–Kristina

I can’t believe this article! Did not God say in His word that we should be “keepers at home”? Please stop making excuses and keep your houses clean! If you have to do it or pay someone else to do it, just do it! It is horrible to go to a Christian person’s house and and see a mess. We have to be good examples in every area of our lives.
–Kaydia

Okay. So, rereading these has made me need to do my deep breathing again. And I’m trying to smile at the suggestions that ”not one”‘ of us is a ”full time mom,” since actually the only one of us who isn’t doesn’t have children. I’m trying to be amused that these commenters imagine that someone else is raising our children. I’m trying to be gracious even when our commitment to God and family is questioned.

I have to tell you: this fires me up. Not that these commenters have such ill-informed and ridiculous impressions of our lives—not even because they make harsh (not to mention unbiblical) judgements, but that this thinking still lives so readily on. That they perpetuate the heresy that to follow God as a woman means to live (or pretend to) the Better Homes and Gardens (another lovely magazine—though they could use some good mom columnists!), pretty perfect little American life.

But more than fires me up, this breaks my heart. I think it probably breaks God’s heart too. So what sort of example are we setting for future generations, Miss Carla? That actually does make me smile…..

Carla: What’s amusing to me about these comments is that several of them seem to think we all live in garbage houses, as though there are only two extremes–the Pottery Barn showcase and those sad news articles about the women with 138 cats who live in filth.

But I’m with you–we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried. I just want to write back to every one of those women and ask them if they talk to/about their friends like this? It’s no wonder so many of us struggle to be vulnerable with each other when this is what we are bumping into.

At the same time, I think about the reactions to one of my favorite books, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women. The author said that the people who the strongest negative reactions to what he wrote were older women. He came to see that they pushed back vehemently because to agree with him was to admit that they had arranged their lives around these lies and they couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with the emotional fallout that would come with that admission. The only other option was to dig in and fight him.

For whatever reasons, the things we are saying are threatening to some women. It’s fine with me if others disagree with me–Caryn does it ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME. But it takes a deeper motivation to write up a harsh comment like these. It takes anger or fear or sense that something sacred has been violated.

My hope is that we can create a better way of disagreeing with each other, one that isn’t based in fear or anger, but in a genuine desire to learn from and understand each other.

Caryn: Thank you, Carla, for coming to this from a such a healthy perspective. As opposed to me—all rage and wrath….. Maybe it’s because my house was (and still is) actually QUITE TIDY as I read these. At least for me.

Please do check out the article, Revolutionaries—after you comment here. There’s also a fun video you can watch of us non-garbage-house-dwellers. Carla hogs the spotlight though. Surprise, surprise…..


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