Once upon a time, what seems long, long, long ago, I was married with three beautiful children and stayed home fulltime to raise them. Initially, the decision to stay home came out of necessity because daycare for two infants was too expensive to justify me working outside of the home. But then, as I sought my degree and grew into the mothering role, it became the place I wanted to be until my children all started school.
Then life happened. My world fell apart as my marriage crumbled and my definition of family was augmented. I no longer had the option of staying home with my children.
My re-entry to the workforce as a single mom happened six years ago.
But today, my life is in a much different place! Because of God's blessing and grace, I have found a wonderful Godly man who loves God first, then me, then "our" children (his two, my three, plus our one). And in celebration of that kind of life and love, we have had our first child together. I have been on maternity leave for almost 10 weeks now.
When I decided to take 12 weeks of maternity leave, I had reservations. I knew what having a new baby meant. I knew that there would be nights with no sleep, days with no awake hours, and lots of little moments that I would not want to miss. But I decided to take the FMLA leave because I didn't know if I would want to return to work for sure or not.
But now, as my leave is drawing to an end, I have faced a struggle many mothers have faced before me. I look at my baby girl, my three older children, and the lifestyle we are leading right now--walking to the elementary school each afternoon to meet the older kids, napping with the baby in my arms when I need to--and I struggle to let go of it and return to work.
Perhaps where the story is a little different than some is that I don't "have" to go back to work for our family to survive financially. Since we wed, my husband and I who both fully embrace the idea of Biblical finances have been steadily paying down and paying off our debts (most incurred when we were younger, in our previous marriages). We have tithed faithfully and avoided new debt.
But yesterday, I took the baby out to my office to show her off. (I'm a very proud mama!!) And while I was there, I knew that I had to make a decision. The end of my protected leave is drawing near, and that meant that I had to come to a decision about returning to work.
My husband and I have talked about this exact scenario over and over. Yesterday, I asked him exactly what God was laying on his heart about it. I knew what I felt God was telling me, but I also wanted to test it. I know that when God speaks, He doesn't contradict Himself. If my husband was hearing the same thing that I was, that would confirm that the voices we were hearing were truly God's voice.
"Don't close the door if they make you an offer that is better (i.e. telecommuting, part-time, pay increase). However, I feel that you should stay home. It's where your heart is, it's what I want for you, and I feel like it is where God is leading us."
And my only concern was that I had this small, niggling fear that with the economy what it is right now, closing the door completely could be disastrous for our family financially. I immediately added to that concern that it could be Satan raising this concern. I know how motivated he is to raise questions about God's faithfulness to take care of us. Satan knows that he can only pull us down when he causes us to question our faith and God's ability and desire to do what He has promised us He's going to do.
"Listen to how they respond. If they don't seem concerned that you want to walk away, if they don't try to dissuade you at all, we'll know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you should not go back. If they make you an offer, listen and ask for time to think it over. Then we'll pray about the offer to see how God speaks to us."
I know that God is faithful to take care of us. I have seen God's hand be shown mighty and powerful. I have experienced victory at His hands too many times to really doubt. And yet, I do. At moments that seem too big for me, I struggle over and over with letting go and letting God. My faith needs to grow. I need to get back to a place where I have resided before in the arms of God.
I won't go into all of the details of the conversation, but the results were amazing! I decided to leave it to God, although I was afraid of the possible outcomes. However, my employer was sympathetic to my desire to stay home beside my children. They had anticipated (with the help of one of God's angels) that I would struggle with this decision and had already begun discussion about a way that I could continue working for them, but in a different capacity. Several different scenarios were given if I should decide to continue working, including the option that I had in my heart as being the only way I would decide to work without much struggle (and that was a scenario that I was sure existed only in my head and heart and not in a tangible "real" possibility). I asked that they firm up how they felt they could use me best and to get back with me.
I was forced to make no rash decisions. No doors were closed. And a possibility (which could lead to an additional source of income later) was presented.
Although this story is not over, it is a testament to what God will do when we have faith in Him and let Him work in our lives. Only God knows for sure what offer I will ultimately receive. And only He knows what I will decide to do, although I do know that it is my heart's desire to do only what He leads me to do.
But more than what this has proven to me about God and faith, is what it can show you.
Father, each day that I have been given by you is a day that I can learn to be more like you, to walk more closely in faith to you, and to be blessed by you so that I can give those blessings forward to others through you. Continue to give me wisdom in this situation as well in each decision I have to make. And continue to make me submissive to your will in my life, to my husband, and to the lessons of faith that you will teach me in my life and through the witness of my fellow sisters in Christ. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
- Matthew 18:6
- Matthew 21:21
- Acts 14:22
- Romans 1:8
Please remember to share your stories of faith and faith-development with all your sisters in Christ. It should never be tiresome to them to hear them, or for you to share them!