I worked full-time most of my summers in college, and I loved it. I loved everything about my job and the feeling of coming home to rest, going out to eat with friends, or heading out for an evening run after a long day of work. I changed jobs during the months of engagement to my husband. I didn’t love this job like the seemingly, perfect job I had before it, but I thought the hours would be more fitting. My new job allowed me to come in early and leave by 3:00 most days. This sounds like the ideal schedule (it’s probably true), but eventually I got married and had to leave the office to work another shift—the shift of a wife.
I dreamed for years about the joy of putting on an apron and having a warm plate of food on the table when my husband came home from work. I pictured myself sweeping and vacuuming while dancing and swirling to music. I practiced recipes. I tried to get better at folding clothes (didn’t help). But as a full-time research assistant who became a full-time wife, I realized it was just that—two full-time jobs.
My new wifely duties hit me like a king sized mattress. I felt like a failure when my husband couldn’t find a clean pair of socks. I winced when he would ask the plans for dinner having not made it to the store yet. I often procrastinated as a wife in making our house a home as I never hung a single thing on the wall in our house that first year, or when our bed sat without a frame. Also, I can count on one hand how many times I cleaned the floor (yuck!). I was overwhelmed, depressed, and I cried—a lot.
My husband and I prayed, and I took a part-time job that I adored. But even part-time work took time away from what I felt I needed to do in the home. My mind constantly turned like a hamster wheel thinking of all I had to do when I got home. By God’s grace, I soon became a stay at home wife for a few months before we became pregnant with our daughter. This, too, had its challenges such as pondering my purpose or if I was even good at domestic tasks. My soul calmed though, and God gave me peace.
In Courtney Reissig’s book, Glory in the Ordinary, she makes me feel like I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who questioned what I was doing with my life, whether I was wasting my intelligence or what I could possibly do all day. I’m not the only one who not only felt like a failure to the working moms but also to the stay at home moms who seemed to have a daily, Pinterest itinerary followed by an Instagram paparazzi. Reissig lays out almost exactly how I feel and think and have been treated as a stay at home wife and mother.
She preaches the fact that even though it’s countercultural in a sense and different from what I envisioned it, there is glory in it. There is glory in the ordinary! My work possesses meaning even without pay. My work holds purpose. My work honors God. Doing laundry does good. Preparing meals for my family does good. Cleaning up spills does good and so on. Reissig encourages hope in the mundane with this:
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. And that can be done only by going to the One who makes effective all that we do (24).
I knew in reading this book, Reissig would help me see hope in my every day. Surprisingly, the book impacted me deeper than I expected as well. Recently I began pondering how I could better love my neighbors. I even took my thoughts to Twitter and discussed it among virtual brothers and sisters. To my delight, Reissig spends time explaining how I fulfill the second greatest commandment to love my neighbor in my home. In cooking a meal for someone in need, pulling weeds, packing my husband’s lunch, and changing diapers, I love my neighbor. What hope this filled me! She declares:
If work is a means of loving God by loving your neighbor, then every act of faithful work that you do is accomplishing just that. You are loving God and the world by caring for the people in your home (133).
I believe this book helps women in the workforce to understand their sisters who work in or from home. And if they desire to leave their job to stay home, their work is still valued. Primarily, this book brings hope to the stay at home wife and mom who struggles with her purpose. Is it an idol? Or does she devalue it? Hope comes with our eyes on the God of all glory—the Most Glorious One! Only He can show us the glory in the daily, mundane, and monotonous. He shows us the glory in the ordinary.