Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

May I Sacrifice

The Linda Hirshman debacle has already been covered on several other blogs (As Linda so graciously enlightens us, "full time mothers, who are overwhelmingly represented among female bloggers, don’t like being told they had chosen inferior lives.") and I don't have an overwhelming desire to rehash old news. I'm not going to try to correct Linda's opinions about homemakers. Her mind is obviously made up. But I do have a few related thoughts to share. In other words, I've been ruminating and this is a good outlet!;o)

I believe that Ms. Hirshman comes from a worldview so foreign to mine, that argument with her is pointless. She will never comprehend (short of God changing her heart) why what I and many other women desire to do (put investing in our families and others FIRST before seeking public honor and success) has great eternal significance. She probably doesn't have a relationship with our Heavenly Father or give much consideration to the afterlife. Therefore she can only see significance in the here and now. Looking around, we see that success in the "here and now" seems fueled by money, power and having as large of a public impact with that money and power as possible. It's no wonder she feels that full-time wives and mothers and homemakers are wasting our lives. We are deliberately (or according to Ms. Hirshman, under the duress of public expectation) "limiting our influence". In fact, if we follow her logic from its underlying presuppositions, it makes perfect sense.

Where does Ms. Hirshman place her faith? Can't say. But my guess is, herself. She suscribes to a doctrine of autonomy:
(a) If I can reject the societal constraints that seek to hinder me, I can live my individual life to its fullest. (or, independence=good; dependence=bad)
(b) Living an autonomous life will not have detrimental effects on my personal relationships.

Props for Ms. Hirshman's idealism (or is it delusionism?). However, I am daily reminded that we do live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. I am one of them! None of us can find within ourselves the means to flourish independently of God and one another. I am not self-sufficient. And my choices can hurt others, even myself. I am a dependent being, and I have dependent beings relying on me, and no amount of "women's liberation" is going to change that.

1. If I choose to put a career above my personal relationships, I may have many colleagues. I may have clients. But I will be lonely, because I am using my waterbucket to tend many scruffy weeds with shallow roots, rather than watering the deep, permanent roots of my trees. Trees whose arms could provide shelter when it rains and refreshing shade from the heat.

2. If I have children, and pay someone else to raise them, they will miss out on the love and constancy and example that my care could give. And I will miss out on a deep and special relationship with them.

3. If I have a family, and refuse to make any sacrifices for them, they may be loathe to make any sacrifices for me. My children will not learn from me to make sacrifices for others.

4. If I am married, but view myself as independent from my husband, he may start envisioning his life independent of me.

5. If I have a house but consider all the work of taking care of it beneath my dignity and intelligence, I will not have a home. Visitors to my house will see only brick and mortar. They will not see life and personality spilling from every nook and cranny. They will not enjoy a sense of homeyness and hospitality when they step inside my door.

6. If my name is well-known by many, but my heart is well-known by none, then my greatest power to influence and impact others lies wasted.

7. If I am not willing to live my life as a sacrifice of love and service poured out to others, than I am not following in the example of Jesus Christ. He did not come to earth as a king. He did not seek fanfare or power or wealth. He came as a servant. One despised and scoffed at by men. He "wasted" his time on the "least of these". He wanted to show us that His love, for us and through us, is ultimately the only currency that will last forever.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8


Anonymous The Happy Feminist said...

But service and sacrifice can and do occur in the context of the professions. Law and medicine and entrepreneurship and technology and politics have value to our society and they make the world a better place. What would our society be without those things? Working in the professions is also something one can do for one’s family. A professional provides for her family, and she models values of service, hard work, and human potential for her children, especially for her daughters.

I do not agree that human intimacy and love require dependency. Indeed, I think dependency often hinders intimacy and love because it can foster resentment on both sides.

I have been very Hirshman-ish in my choices (although I reject her derision of homemakers). But, just like you, I have faith that my choices not only have the power to bring me happiness but, more importantly, that they make a difference to my community, those around me, and to other women.

5:06 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Rhonda said...

Well said! God's way is always the best way!
Years ago, before the kids came, I worked outside the home. It was OK, nothing spectacular. But I spent most of my waking hours with people I shared with only on the most superficial level. It felt empty.
Everything I do for my house and home is meaningful! Like Flylady says, "nothing says "I love you" like clean underwear!"
I am not just cooking and cleaning, I am cooking and cleaning for my loved ones! My husband and our children! I educate our children. How cool is that? A sacrifice? Nope, can't see it!

5:24 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger zan said...

I am so sick of seeing that Hirshman woman (if you can call her that) on TV. She is so full of bologna she should grow her hair longer because you can see it sticking out of her ears!

I think you are doing a service for society in some career fields, but you should be putting you babies and your family first. Raising the next generation is a mother's job. If she messes this up she doing a disservice to society.

Erin, you really have it right about non-Christians just not getting it. My sister-in-law is a non-Christian and is at death's door right now (lung cancer). She has had so many opportunities to accept Christ, but she has always refused. She spent her whole life being independent and obtaining money and living for herself. It is so depressing to see her now.

My husband and I have been praying for her salvation.

7:02 PM, June 29, 2006  
Blogger Samantha said...

This post is so refreshing. I've read alot of posts about this Hirshman woman and my first instinct is to get angry with what she is saying, but it doesn't do any real good. If someone is a non-Christian their authortity, inspiration, and moral guidelines come from a completely different place. Also, like you said, they tend to think of our time here on earth as long instead of short. As Christians we live our life in prepartion for eternity, whereas a non-Christian will try not to think about the end at all and instead look at this life as all there is. Or they will think if they are doing "good" things and "not doing harm to others" they will make it to heaven.

I can only imagine what a powerful testimony she could make if God makes a change in her heart. The best thing we can do is pray for her and other non-believers.

Zan-that is really sad about your sister-in-law. I'll keep her in my prayers as well.

8:26 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

But service and sacrifice can and do occur in the context of the professions. Law and medicine and entrepreneurship and technology and politics have value to our society and they make the world a better place.

I agree! But I think Zan gets it right: family should be the FIRST priority of every person who has one. I'd like to write another post discussing a family-centered approach to work. (Not because I'm an expert, but because this is something my husband and I are passionate about and have thought on a lot!)

I do not agree that human intimacy and love require dependency. Indeed, I think dependency often hinders intimacy and love because it can foster resentment on both sides.

HF, you and I disagree on this. I am dependent on God and my husband, and I wouldn't have it any other way! In return, my husband depends on me for various things. We are a team and we support one another. We have a division of labors, instead of each trying to do our own things for ourselves. It's awesome, and it really builds our unity and strengthens our relationship as we both try to serve one another in various ways!

"nothing says "I love you" like clean underwear!"

I think my husband would concur!;o)

Zan, I'm so sorry about your sister-in-law. I'll pray for her today.

Samantha, Ms. Hirshman has certainly made me upset too! Especially after I heard how rude she was to SAHM callers on a radio talk show. But when I considered her worldview, I could actually see why she would believe what she does. That doesn't excuse her rudeness, but it does make her honest. I do hope that God reaches her heart. You're right...what an AWESOME testimony she could have!

10:30 AM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Green Darner said...

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7

This verse sums up for me the whole matter. IMHO it is useless to dispute with unbelievers. In fact I think that the more one disputes with them the more one "fans the flame." Hirshman doesn't make me mad so much as I feel great pity for her as she can't know the happiness and peace that I know in my Lord and Savior Jesus. I think the best thing to do rather than responding to her words is to pray for her heart, mind, and ears to be open to receiving the Lord.

3:43 PM, July 01, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Green Darner, that is wonderful encouragement. You're right.

2:09 AM, July 04, 2006  
Anonymous Kim in MI said...


I came to your blog from chickadee's link about daycare. I worked in a pretty good one, for a short time, but chose to be home with my own children.

Anyway, I just wanted to say what a nice blog you have.

And, in response to this particular issue, how funny it is that anyone would suggest that others have "chosen inferior lives" -- that phrase in itself assumes we share the same values. I'm not familiar with Ms. Hirshman, but suspect she'd just frustrate me. So I'll leave her untouched. But I agree that her faith and values must be placed very differently, to feel homemakers choose something inferior. From a different value perspective, hers would be the inferior choice.

All the more reason that we all make sure to stand firm on our values from which our choices flow, and always be seeking the Lord to ground our values firmly in Him. Whether or not the world understands.


8:39 AM, July 04, 2006  

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