An annual trip to the doctor this week meant answering the usual questions to update the medical records. Is this still your health insurance? Are you still at this address? Has your email address changed? And you’re still a homemaker? I paused and bristled a bit with that one. Well, I guess so. . . . among other things. The patient coordinator just looked at me. “Okay, yes, I’m still a homemaker.” She was satisfied. I needed to fill that box in her annual survey.
Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry hosted their second annual FEAST event this Spring, and Elizabeth Melton Bartley shared a powerful reflection on the need for more Home Makers in the world. There are quite a few of us minister mamas who are cobbling together work to supplement our primary job of home making. Making home. She spoke of the lessons learned of embracing that home making identity and carrying it with her in her pastoral work of making home in all places. When church gets broken, when church starts to look like corporation, when church loses its way, we need good Home Makers to lead in a different way.
But I still bristle when I find myself in conversations about vocation that leave little room for nuance and discussion. I heard myself speak out of anxiety last month as I ran into old friends and colleagues at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina. The question I most dreaded was typically the first: So, what are you doing now? I tried to stop myself but heard the paragraph come flowing out of me almost every time: “Well, I’m home with the kids while they’re still little, but I’m also blogging and writing curriculum and doing a lot of supply preaching. Plus, the housing market’s awful, so we couldn’t sell our house, and there aren’t many great part-time jobs in my area.”
Good gracious, woman. Breathe!
Sure, there are still the folks who don’t get my life and feel the need to say, “Oh, so you’re not doing anything.” See, I need to fill that box in their annual survey, too. But in my better moments, I know otherwise. I know that I am learning more about vocation than ever before. Some mothers describe the task of raising children as a calling. They felt called to jobs, called to motherhood, and then called back to jobs. That doesn’t really resonate with me, though. For me, the idea of vocation has shifted to an understanding of who I am continually called to become; my pastoral self and my mothering self are but two parts of the whole of my vocation. When I move into the center of who I am uniquely called to be (for my life, not anyone else’s life), only then am I able to move best in the world in all the myriad tasks of doing that are sure to come.
Is there a box to check for that?