Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God by Courtney Reissig. Crossway. 160 pages. 2017
I read a lot of books about our callings, the value of our work, and how to integrate or connect our faith and work. This helpful book brings a unique perspective to the faith and work discussion as it looks at the value of the work of a stay at home mom.
The author looks at how doing stay-at-home work means something completely different for her than it did for her mother and grandmother. She writes that in many ways that is due to the shift in how we view the nature of at-home work itself. She shows how we have moved from the idea of a housewife to a stay at home mom.
She writes that moms are tired. They are weary of the pressure to live up to expectations and ideals that no human being could ever attain. On one hand, they hear that their work at home is the pinnacle of greatness, and on the other they hear that they are letting down women everywhere by staying home instead of taking advantage of the strides women have made in the workplace. She states that instead of looking at their work as stay at home moms through God’s eyes, many look at it through their own—and wonder if they measure up.
She writes that many wonder about the work of a stay at home mom. Does it matter? Is it simply a way to survive? Is there something more to see in the dirty diapers, temper tantrums, dishwashing, and repetitive nature of housework? Does it have value? Does it serve a greater purpose? Or is it too mundane? Too daily? Too frustrating? Too inefficient? She tells us that the way forward to find meaning in at-home work is by seeing how it fits in the larger scheme of community, culture, and life. She tells us that she has learned that God is glorified in the mundane work as much as He is in the magnificent. In fact, it is the mundane moments, the moments where we live each and every day, where we come to see the true greatness of God and his love for us.
She writes about the curse of work due to the fall, and how that curse impacts work at home. Stay at home moms wonder if there is something else beyond the cycle of mundane tasks that they do every day.
A contributing factor to disillusionment with at-home work is that stay at home moms aren’t paid for it. She writes that it is important to see work as a contribution, and not always with a dollar sign attached to it. She writes of the fine line between valuing unpaid work and providing people with the compensation they deserve for their work. She writes that work is not simply about closing a business deal, teaching a class full of children, or discovering a new treatment for a disease. It is also about loving and serving our neighbor.
She states that we are living in a time when being ordinary is the worst thing that can happen to a person, and nothing screams ordinary like at-home work. Many feel a strong desire to do something radical with their lives, to not waste it. And at times it may feel wasteful to spend your life on at-home work. But she correctly states that is not the way God views your work. No, He sees the work of a stay at home mom and delights in it.
She tells us that we were created to work because God himself works. It is a function of being image bearers. Everything we do, whether it is work in the home or outside of the home, is imaging the God who made us to work. Because we bear His image, stay at home moms are imaging Him with every task they accomplish in their homes on any given day.
She talks about how at home work is a way to love God by loving others. She quotes Martin Luther who said that if our work is not done for the good of our neighbor, then it is of no real value. Work at home is actually a God-given opportunity to serve your neighbor with your good works. It is an opportunity to love others (including your spouse, children, neighbors, aging parents, etc.), in Jesus’s name.
She writes about collaboration and community, and says it is so important to stay-at-home moms that an entire industry has been built around women writing strictly about the mom life, called “mommy bloggers.”
She writes about the important subject of rest, another way we bear God’s image. After God worked to bring forth creation, he rested. Because of sin, all work exhausts us on some level. Although not a stay at home mom, I appreciated her thought that this side of heaven we will always face the tension of incomplete work in the midst of rest. That is an idea that is good for all of us to embrace.
She states that in our Christian subculture, at-home work is praised as good and faithful work. But she correctly states that if you find your hope and identity in folded laundry, a spotless refrigerator, and children who praise you from the rooftops, you have misplaced affections regarding your work.
She writes of the idea of the “supermom”, the myth of “having it all” and the temptation for stay at home moms to compare themselves to others. The comparison leads to envy, discontentment and guilt.
She writes that as believers, our work is preparing us to rule and reign with Christ in a new earth, where the curse is gone, and we will work for God’s glory, always. She helpfully states that Christians work differently, in every kind of work, because we work for the Lord (not others) and we work hopefully (for the future). It’s good work, meaningful work and work that matters to God.
Each chapter ends with a “Getting Practical” section in which the author drives the point home that the work of a stay at home mom has value by seeing it through the life of another stay at home mom.
Highly recommended, not only for stay at home moms, but for all of us.