Before having children, many women worry about what kind of mother they will be. Nothing unusual about that, but a difficult childhood instilled in me a fear that I wouldn’t know how to have a normal family home life. I worried about how I would handle discipline or how I would treat possible future children. On the other hand, that same childhood experience made me determined to create a marriage and home that was stable, warm and peaceful.
Early in my mothering career I attended a parenting conference and heard Dr. Herbert Ratner make the following statement: “The 20 years between 20 and 40 (years of age) are just as long as the 20 years between 40 and 60. What you do in the first 20 years determines how happy you will be in the second 20 years.” That idea stuck with me. I determined to live life with the end in mind.
Not knowing how to have a happy home, I set out to learn how. Here are a few things I figured out:
Books don’t magically solve problems. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re doing something because we read about it and agree with it. Close the book and do what it says.
Surround yourself with what is true and lovely. Protect yourself from ugly input. Don’t live in a bleak, cluttered environment. Bring beauty, warmth, and neatness to all of your life. Be very careful what you allow to enter your mind and eyes. Constant exposure to beautiful ideas and noble goals will transform your thought life.
We all know that thoughts determine actions, don’t we?
Do the things you don’t want to do. Do them cheerfully and well. Edith Schaeffer wrote, “Somebody has to get up early, stay up late, do more than the others, if the human garden is to be a thing of beauty.” At first glance it doesn’t seem fair, but there are hidden and precious rewards for dying to self and serving. Stomping and self-pity cancel the reward points.
Choose your hard things. Do your laundry and put it away. That’s hard. Get ready to go somewhere and realize no one has clean clothes to wear. That’s hard. You pick.
Take the time. Yes, I know you’re busy. Throw a meal on the table and get on to the next thing. No time for a tablecloth and candles and flowers. You’ll do that when you have time. But before you know it, the weeks, the months and the years pass, and the children leave home and you never had time.
Lest you think I’ve sailed through life with clean laundry and beautiful meal tables, I assure you these lessons were hard earned. Many times I felt inadequate to the task. It was like trying to pour water from a dry bucket. Giving your children what you didn’t have as a child is not easy. Creating a happy home life from scratch will take everything you’ve got and even that won’t be enough.
That’s why I’m so glad that the Bible says the strength and power of Christ pitches a tent over me and dwells upon me. His favor and loving-kindness supply what I don’t have. He will gladly do that for you, too, for He knows all about love and building beautiful homes.
It turns out that giving your family what you didn’t receive, gives it back to you.