Friday, November 20, 2009

At Home Unashamed

Head over to Joyfully Home to read Jasmine's great post We Have Nothing to Apologize For. She has aptly put into words things that I have thought and struggled with.

It's hard to write in the online world without a ton of qualifications - "what's right for me may not be right for you," "we're not all called to the same things," etc. It's easy to be misunderstood.

And truthfully, in many situations, God has given us great freedom to choose; what I do won't necessarily be what you should do. We must be wise in understanding this and not put guilt on others for doing things that God has called them to. But at the same time, we don't have to continually apologize for what God has called us to do - or for promoting things that may be wise for many to do. I don't want to offend others, but I also don't want to be ashamed of what I do.

How do you know what God has called you to do? To be honest, I really hesitate to use that phrase... I use it only after prayer and lengthy searching for God's will. It's too easy to say, "well, God called me to do this" to excuse yourself or escape having to explain why you do something. We should have an answer for those who ask.

I do believe that God has "called" me to live at home until I marry. Many things have confirmed that I am where I'm supposed to be. I won't go so far as to say that every woman has to - the examples of my own sisters, all following God, has shown me that God does call different women to different things. However, I do think it can be a wonderful sphere to learn in, and a great way of staying under God-ordained authority.

Yet, it is hard to answer those who ask why I do what I do. Some ask in genuine curiosity, while others seem to want to get me out. A lot of the questions have stopped since I did go away to college for a year, and still ended up wanting to be home. Still, it's counter-cultural to live at home past high school graduation. And people do ask, from relatives to fellow church members to the dental hygienist. What do you say?

Answers vary depending on who asks and how much we have to talk. My answers are initially brief: "I'm studying independently while teaching ballet and directing theatre." If they press college, I usually tell them that I did go for a year, but it wasn't what we felt like I should continue for now. There are other ways of learning - and you can learn so much from books! No, it doesn't get me the all-important piece of paper, but I often mention that I may pursue a degree through distance learning in the future. That usually stops the questions, but I wonder if I should use it as much as I do. It is one possibility among many, but nothing definite...

Too often I answer in a way in which I'm apologetic, somewhat ashamed, for still being at home. In our culture, the connotation of an adult living at home is usually one of a lazy bum mooching off of their parents. So naturally, people will ask what you're doing, concerned that you not waste your life. How do you answer? Jasmine gives good advice: answer confidently, joyfully, lovingly, and Biblically. In doing so, we can change the negative connotation by showing that you can be useful, helpful, and productive while still living at home.

It's amazing how many people actually agree that a woman should stay under her father's authority - even live at home - until marriage, when that authority transfers to her husband. There is Biblical and historical precedence for this, which many recognize. Only last night, I was amazed at how many people from our church agreed that this was good when we somehow got on the topic during the discussion after session 12 of The Truth Project. It was encouraging.

Too often I worry about what others are thinking about me. God has taught me time and again to look to Him for approval - not others. But when people learn that I've graduated from high school and am still at home (most who don't know me just assume I'm still in high school when I'm out with my family - I look young enough...), they ask questions.

I don't want to stir up controversy or try to answer for everyone. But I am so glad to live at home, and I want to share that - without shame.

16 comments:

Miss Emily said...

Thank you so much for writing this! Also Jasmine's post was so beautifully written! I have such a hard time explaining to people about my plans once I'm done with high school, they really don't know what to say but it's like once I say I might do a year at a bible institute they jump in and say "yeah maybe you SHOULD do that"

Nothing shocks me anymore... said...

I have been following your blog for well over a year now. You seem to be dwelling on this topic quite a bit. That makes me think that something is bothering you about this choice. "The woman doth protest too much" What is bothering you? Why do you feel you need to justify your choices to others? That makes me think that you are not comfortable enough with them yourself. You do not have to have your life planned out at this age/stage. When people ask do not worry that you have to make them happy with your station in life. You did the live away college thing and it was not for you. Thousands of people do that every year.. heck many never make it through the first semester let alone the entire year. You moved back home. Your working and keeping your options open to what is out there. That answer is sufficient. Ask yourself if others are disapproving of your choices or if your perception is faulty.
I lived at home for 4 years of college. Moved away to start a grad degree and returned home after a year.. Was burnt out. Went back to work full time. Met a man, married him and moved into his home. Life goes on.
Don't worry about what others are doing. There is nothing wrong with living at home until you marry. Shoot- it is much cheaper then apartment living anyday!

The Bantering Bookworm said...

Your post makes me reminiscent. I went to college and earned a bachelors degree, but afterward decided to stay home until I married. In Massachusetts, living at home is not something many young women decide to do, and if your reason is a reflection of your faith, people do not know how to respond (Massachusetts is not a very Christian state). I became engaged shortly after I moved home from college, but my husband and I had an almost 2 year engagement so he could finish college and graduate school. Many people would ask me why I was still home, what I planned to do with my life, etc. I often found myself at a lack of words, even though I was completely confident in my decision.

God bless you for answering His call! I will be praying for you that you may have the grace to answer inquiries about being at home with confidence.

Marlana said...

yeah who cares whether a girl lives at home. It's economically one of the best decisions a girl can ever make. And its less lonely. Personally I'm not sure why anyone would want to live alone in an apartment.

The home is also the best place for ministry. I can bring people in the home, teenagers or what not, without complete akwardness of a single female. So again, the home seems like the best option.

However, I don't believe adult girls are under their father's authority. The Bible says husbands. But never fathers. I know you don't want a debate though.

Anna Naomi said...

Perhaps I am dwelling on this topic a bit too much. It's just something I've been thinking about recently, and I also wanted to pass on Jasmine's post to those who might be encouraged by it. I'm not questioning my decision, but I understand it's probably tiring to those reading this blog. Thanks for pointing that out; I'll try to write on other topics now. :)

Anna Naomi said...

Marlana: Thanks for understanding my not wanting to start a debate. =)

I do see why some people don't think an adult daughter is under her parent's authority. At college, the RUF campus minister preached a long series that dealt with that - but I wasn't convinced. (He tried to show that the unmarried woman was under the church's authority in the interim - but aren't all believers?)

While there isn't a direct Biblical command to daughters to be under their father's authority (though examples seem to show that they were), I also see no direct reference that they aren't. In fact, the footnote of 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 (at least in the NIV) suggests a alternate translation that deals with a father deciding whether or not to give his daughter in marriage, which I find interesting. I think part of why there isn't much about adult, unmarried women is the Bible is simply because there weren't many of them in that culture. Women married pretty young, and went from under their father's authority (you do agree that young daughters are under their father's - and mother's - authority, right? So at what age would that change?) to that of their husband. The authority structure in the Bible places the husband at the head of the home. While in today's culture those terms ("authority" and "head") carry derogatory connotations, I don't think they're meant to. And yes, they can be sadly abused.

I don't want to make a huge issue out of something that isn't a direct Biblical command. But while adult, unmarried daughters aren't really discussed, in this day and age where there are a lot of them, I think we can should use the ones that are given ("children obey your parents in the Lord" - Ephesians 6:1 and "For the husband is the head of the wife" - Ephesians 5:23) and try to see where we fit in.

For me, I understand it to mean that I'm under my parents' authority; though it is a different kind than when I was a minor, with my having a lot of freedoms and opportunities to learn to make decisions on my own, I value their input and protection.

Okay, so that turned out longer than I expected. :) Hope that clarified my views somewhat, though.

Marlana said...

Anna,

lol. No, the church argument holds no wait to me either. On a side note, many forget that the head of the church isn't the pastor but Christ.

My belief comes from Corinthians. Paul says married women are to focus on blessing and serving their husbands. Virgins are to focus on blessing the Lord but are never command to focus on blessing their fathers or carrying out his vision. (Paul does acknowledge unmarried women in this passage. Then also widows in other places.)

Additionally, (as you mentioned) the Bible says parents, not just father. I value both of my parent's advice equally.

btw, I have no issue with a daughter choosing to remain under her father's authority. That's cool

Homeschoolmum4Christ said...

Don't feel ashamed of staying at home, for God will reward those who diligently seek Him.

Continue to share without shame about your home life. My brother stayed at home until he married, and he was 35 when he married.
Blessings,
Jillian

Caroline said...

What happens when you are 30 and unmarried? Are you still going to be under your fathers authority? What happens if you never marry? Will you continue to live at home under your fathers authority? At some point don't you think that you should move out and be on your own or do you plan on being in your 50s and still living at home under your fathers authority? I think this leads to a lot of dependence on your father and doesn't allow you to grow into your own person. Just my thoughts.

Anna Naomi said...

Marlana: Yes, that is one passage where unmarried women are specifically addressed. Somehow it slipped my mind last night, but it is one of my favorite verses for this season! I think we can be devoted to the Lord while being under our father's authority - I don't think it's an either/or. However, you're right that it doesn't say there that we are to be. The other passages that talk about fathers giving their daughters in marriage seem to imply that, however.

Caroline: I hope I get married one day and move out of my father's house, but there is the possibility that it won't happen. I can't say for sure what I'll do that many years in the future. If my father was still alive, I may continue to live with my parents; they would probably need the help. Or, I may live with a sibling or someone else that needs care. People always bring this scenario up, but even at that age, it would be nice to live with my parents if I were single. Does the authority expire at a certain age? I don't know. I trust that God will lead each year as I seek to follow Him.

Even while living at home, I still have plenty of opportunities to grow into my "own person." But I also enjoy being a part of a family unit instead of just living on my own. But, through teaching and other activities, many people know me as my "own person" - and my parents are sometimes known as "Anna's mom" or "Anna's dad." It just depends on the situation. All-in-all, I enjoy being known as part of this family.

Victoria Faith said...

Anna,

As a 17 year old who finished school last April, I often feel very awkward when people ask me about my plans. I am staying home, and waiting to take college courses in February. I do not even know WHY I am taking those classes, other than, just for something to do. My situation is a little different than most other daughters choosing to stay home because my parents divorced when I was 12. My reasons make sense to me, but I do not know how to explain to most other people. So I just mumble up something about what I'm doing, I don't really know yet, we'll see what happens, etc... Why is it so hard for me to tell most people that I just want to stay home and study until I get married?
Perhaps it is pride... Whatever it is, thank you for your encouragment in your blog.

God Bless,
Victoria S. (I am on your facebook friends but I do not want to put my last name on here) =)

Mardi said...

Anna, thank you so much for posting the link and for sharing your thoughts!! I turned 23 in September and I struggle with how to answer people when they ask what am I doing, am I in college, why am I still at home, etc.. it can be discouraging. I can give them a list of answers like I teach sunday school and piano, studying from home, starting handmade jewelry business online etc.. but there is this nagging feeling I don't measure up to their standards, which is ridiculous. You wrote, "In our culture, the connotation of an adult living at home is usually one of a lazy bum mooching off of their parents." You described exactly how I have felt many times. But I shouldn't feel that way. If God is pleased with me, and if my parents are happy with me being at home (and they have said they are) then I shouldn't let other people's opinions get me down. Thanks so much writing this blog entry.

I also agree with you about being under parents authority. Being under their authority is different than when we were minors like you commented, but to a degree we are still under their authority. As my Daddy as said for as long as I can remember "As long as you live in my house you are under my rules." And that's healthy! He doesn't mean that in a controlling way, it's just good common sense and being the spiritual leader of our home!!

I am thankful that you and Miriam as well as other's who blog about topics like this. It is encouraging to know I'm not the only one who has these feelings, and is staying at home while striving to please God!

Thanks again!

(sorry its a long comment!)

Miriam Rebekah said...

Mardi, we love long comments! =)

Anna Naomi said...

Victoria and Mardi: It's good to hear your stories and know there are other girls out there in similar situations. Whether in similar or different circumstances, I hope this blog is an encouragement to other girls.

And Miriam's right - long comments are a treat! =)

Darelina said...

Anna Naomi, I think you're a breathe of fresh air! I wish that I had made the choice to stay home with my parents until I married, or even for that matter, listened to my parents. My home life was not great (lots of baggage there) and I moved out when I was sixteen, divorcing my parents through the courts.

I didn't know then what an extremely rough road I would lead. I learned many, many tough lessons and made grand mistakes. Things a person shouldn't have to think on. I praise my Heavenly Father every day that He was with me, even when I wasn't listening. Waiting for me to bend my knees and give everything to Him.

Please don't ever be ashamed to pursue what God has called you to (or to share it with others). He knows better than we where we should be and if we listen (and you seem to be doing just that) He will lead us into great joy!

Blessings!
Darelina

Mardi said...

I keep forgetting to say, every time I read "The Truth Project" I have to read it twice, it reminds me of a contemporary gospel group out of Texas called The Trust Project! The drummer in the band is also into directing Christian films through the ministry he started History Maker Films. Anyway I just thought it was neat that what you mentioned in your blog was so close to their group name!