Working Women

One of the questions from last evening’s devotional asked the husband if he felt that his wife appreciates his work. 

My husband Chris responded that he felt that I appreciate the work that he does around the home more than I appreciate the work he does at his job, because I see what he does around our home and the yard.  But he felt that I really don’t know what he does at work and don’t see him in action.

I explained that yes I do appreciate the fact that he is hard working and gainfully employed.  That he is respected and well thought of in his job and has advanced in his career.

After seeing some poor examples guys who are not employed…not temporarily because of a job layoff or due to illness…but because they are lazy and just plain don’t want to work…I greatly appreciate a man who goes to work day after day to earn a living and care for his family. 

I appreciate my husband’s job because through it he is able to care for our family…even if it’s just the two of us.  God wants a husband to provide and protect.  Chris is faithful, honorable and dedicated to do what God requires.

Even as I say that…I know that there are instances, through no fault of the people involved, where a husband may not be able to work…due to being laid off or illness.   Goodness knows that even people who want to find jobs in this bad economy, they may have to keep looking for an extended period of time.  Perseverance bears witness of a man who is responsible and continues to search for employment despite limited job opportunities.  There are also men and women who have been struck with a debilitating illness who would love to work…but because of their affliction…they are physically not able to work. 

I assured Chris that I do appreciate the work that he does…both in our home and at his job. 

I went on to say that I believe that a working woman may not appreciate a husband who works as much as a stay at home wife and mother.  The wife who works within the home and is committed to raising their children and being there for them…may have a deeper appreciation for her husband’s dedication and sacrifice for her and their family.

But a working woman…she’s out there in the job market too.  She is also enduring demands, challenges and difficulties in the workplace, just like men do.  She’s also out there working hard to bring home a paycheck to help the family and pay bills.  Because of that…the appreciation for the responsibility that a man bears to care for his family may be lessened.  Perhaps less so for a Christian wife…because we know what God requires of a husband.

I can’t help but think that it also impacts that all import area of respect. 

While it’s common and may even be necessary for women to work outside the home…I can’t help but think that the impact on marriages, husbands, wives and children is not all good.  There is a price to pay for everything.  I wonder sometimes…is the cost too high? 

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Respect

Recently I found my thinking was challenged when I was greatly disappointed in the actions of another. My feelings were hurt…and I overreacted emotionally. Rather than saying, “Gee wiz…that hurt my feelings and I feel let down and disappointed”…I wanted to say, ‘I’ve lost all respect for you.”

Part of me wanted to “hit back” emotionally. To let him feel the same sting of hurt that I felt. To pound home the point of how much his actions hurt.

However after sometime passed…I had to ask what does it really mean to say “I’ve lost all respect for you”? Is it just a one time only action (or lack thereof) that smashes a history of proven character over time? Unless we’re talking a serious moral breech…I don’t think so. I’m talking murder, molestation…theft…or something pretty big…yeah then I could see that. But the everyday actions of life…some good choices…some bad choices…probably not. That instead comes under the realm hurt or offence.

Perhaps letting the words rip “I’ve lost all respect for you” feels good in the moment…but in some respects it’s kind of lazy. I don’t have to think about what’s really bothering me. I don’t have to take the time or effort to explain what I’m feeling. And I don’t have to take the risk and expose myself and be vulnerable to someone who just hurt me. I don’t have to risk him saying…”I don’t care”…or worse yet, “Good, I’m glad I hurt your feelings…because I hate you!”

Depending on the person…that may not be a risk I want to take. But hopefully people I’m involved with are people who are emotionally safe.

When I realized that perhaps I had “overreacted” or was being overly critical…I started thinking about the word respect. Specifically holding up the magnifying glass of respect and seeing…did I really loose all respect? Or was something else going on?

What are some of the elements that make up the word RESPECT? Some that I came up with help define it or are elements are listed below. They are in no way definitive:

Responsible (Dependable)

Expectations (for oneself and others)

Steadfast (Persistent, Unwavering)

Purposeful (Focused, Determined)

Ethical (Knows he is accountable to God…and it effects/determines his actions and how and what he does it. Caring)

Character (Moral, Internal Consistency…he’s the same in all situations and with all people)

Truthful (Honest, no guile, real)

When I look at his actions…against the measuring stick of respect…in all honesty I can’t claim I’ve lost all respect. There might have been one or two of those elements that were breeched temporarily. But a history of proven character can’t just be thrown under the bus.

Have I “lost all respect”? No! Was I disappointed? Yes!

So that I might be consistent…in another situation when I hold up this same mirror of respect against the actions of another…I would say more of those elements were violated. In a way…I have lost respect. But even that instance is more accurately described as disappointment. A keen disappointment…but one more all encompassing over a period of time.

As New Years Eve approached I debated…should I send a letter? Should I reach out? , Say, “Hey…I know that you are a better person than that and I don’t want to “throw you away.” I knew exactly what I wanted to say. But at the end of the day I decided not to send the letter. Why? Because all other attempts to reach out were rebuffed. Even I…one who is slow on the uptake…gets it.

But at least I feel a release from the hurt of disappointment. My desire to send a letter told me that I was walking in forgiveness. My decision to not send a letter…was me walking in reality.

Can God work in the hearts and minds of people? Absolutely…He does everyday in my life.

I guess I’m walking away from these experiences with a challenge to examine more closely my feelings before emoting. Speak my mind…share my feelings…yes. But do so with more thought and intent behind those words. Which goes back to an earlier post…I need to live more intentionally. Intentional in my words, thoughts and actions.