Speaking of College III: Contentment

Titus 2: 3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. At a recent graduation ceremony I listened as the guest speaker addressed the graduates about each one’s life calling. Typical commencement fare. What I found disheartening was at no point did he distinguish between the young men and the young ladies, and though there were more young ladies than gentlemen, never once did he mention the calling of motherhood. I expect this in the culture at large, but this was a Christian high school. Within the Christian community we need to be holding up the roles of being a wife and mother as more valuable than a “prestigious” career.

With such an emphasis on careers and workplace “equality” for women assumed as the best, I suppose our missionary friend’s concerns about women and college, mentioned in my previous post, are understandable. By having a college education, he wondered, does it make a woman become career oriented, and thus, harder for her to be contented as a “keeper at home?” Sometimes this is the case. Our missionary friend’s wife graduated from one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the country, and yet she struggles with wanting to be “in ministry” equally along with her husband, rather than seeing what a rich ministry the Lord has for her as a wife and mother.

But just because a woman has a degree does not mean that she necessarily would prefer a career! Over the years some of my good friends have included a former lawyer, banker, financial planner, computer sy-op, occupational therapist, and many teachers. None of these ladies resented giving up her “career” for the higher service of being mothers.

Before Tim and I married I decided not to pursue what was then my dream of becoming a doctor, and instead give myself to what the world sees as the inconsequential job of being a wife and mother. My best friend in college, Lori, is now head of a breast cancer unit in a major hospital. I can’t tell you that there have never been moments when I did not wish that I could have it all, what she has AND what I have, but those times are small compared to the vast majority of time when I am in awe that I am allowed to care for and raise in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” all these growing people.

Contentment is a difficult thing. It is so easy to look with envy at someone else’s life, not knowing the struggles and suffering that that one has. Over the years I’ve know many discontented and contented moms, and the difference has never been whether she had a college degree or not. You can be discontented because you are not using your degree in an outside the home career. You can be discontented because you never finished that degree and wonder what you are missing. Or you can be wonderfully contented loving your husband and children.

The key is not whether or not a young lady attends college. College can be terrific preparation for a young woman to become a wife and mother IF her heart is turned towards the Lord as she walks through this time in her life, as it needs to be in all other times. Trumping what our daughters learn in college will be their own convictions plus family and church experiences. Does she desire to submit herself in obedience to the Word of God? What models does she see around her? Does her own mother thank God for the responsibility and gift of being a wife and mother? What does she see in the lives of women in the church?

Psalm 113: 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.


Now, dear readers, I have written many words on this subject, and there is much more that could be said. I could write a post on why every daughter ought to go to school with her older brother (though we don’t know how we will accomplish that with our next one!) But I am ready to hold my tongue on the topic of daughters and college. Still, if anyone is still reading, I’d love to hear from you, whether you agree or disagree. Maybe there are some aspects or issues which I have overlooked or minimized. I hope some of you will weigh in and let me know your thoughts!


Rebecca Nugent said…
Yay!! Thanks, Anne:)
Annie Groover said…
thanks, Anne. It is always delightful to hear your wisdom

I agree with your assessment on whether having a college degree leads to dissatisfaction. I have a masters degree, and worked as a librarian before our daughters were born, but you could not offer me enough money or prestige to shuttle my little ones off to day care or even grandma's house for me to go back to work. I have lots of friends who struggle to some degree with this, though. Some are pressured from their husbands to work; or even their parents in order to "justify" their college tuition.
I do not regret getting a college degree (and beyond) for many reasons: I am a more able intellectual companion to my husband; I have skills that can be used at home and at church (such as our church library); I able to be a more dynamic member of our communtity outside of church.
When I got my degrees, also, I had no immediate prospect of getting married. If I had, I might have changed a few things (like not incurring so much student loan debt, eek!) but I think i would have still gotten a degree. If I had had a more robust education in elementary school though high school, I probably could have foregone college (especially since I love to read). However, I thoughougly enjoyed my college experience (on all levels) and was much matured by the process.
Have you ever read, "Mothers of the Wise and Good" by Jabez Burns? It made me approach my vocation as wife and mother with much awe and trembling. It is a really good book, telling true accounts of famous and sucessful people and their mothers. What our church and community has lost since women felt they should be exactly like men and that service at home should be delegated to anyone who can change a diaper and turn on a tv.
mrsd said…
I don't want to weigh. :)
Anyweigh, I think you're on target. Mothering is the best (and hardest at times) calling/job of all. Also, what if one's husband dies and one has to work to support the family? A degree helps.
Anne said…
Thanks, ladies, for your excellent thoughts!

Annie - No, I have not read "Mothers of the Wide and Good" but I will look for it.

MrsD - I agree about a degree being helpful if instances when one is suddenly widowed. This happened to a friend of mine this fall when her husband unexpectedly died from a massive heart attack at age 40.
Anne said…
Ha ha -

What a typo I made! I guess I was thinking about the "weighing in" comment and I typed "Wide" instead of "Wise". Oops!

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