Hello my dear sisters in Christ. Did you have a wonderful Christmas?
Often, Christmas can be stressful with families. Do know that no
matter how your Christmas went that Christ is always there for us.
He promises never to leave us nor forsake us. He also is a great
Healer of past hurts, present hurts, and even those that may occur
in the future.
I have “known” Cheryl virtually for many years through
CWM. She has always been very open about her struggle as a CWM.
Today she was gracious enough to share her struggles with being
a CWM honestly and God’s great provision through the process.
We can all be blessed and learn a lot from Cheryl.
Cheryl is a 49 year old CWM who lives in the United States. She
is an Associate Professor of Nursing. Cheryl has 4 children: a 17
year old daughter, 13 year old son, 9 year old son, and 4 year old
daughter. Listen as Cheryl shares her story as a CWM.
I have had almost 18 years now of being a Christian working mom.
There are three areas of my life that working has impacted. The
hardest part, by far, has been the internal conflict and tearing
of my heart and soul when separating from my children. I miss them
and I miss being there when they get home, or miss going on the
school field trip, and feel guilty when they really wanted me to
come, too! My 4 children are each spaced between 4 and 5 years.
So, while I did find some relief after each one started school,
I have always had a younger “baby” who was still devastated
to have me go to work. Even though my husband and I tag team (he
is with them when I’m at work and vice versa), that didn’t
really comfort the little ones. There were (and sometimes still
are) many days I’d cry on the way to work, because my little
one was so upset.
I prayed for many years for God to change my situation –
to let me be a SAHM. However, I provided half the income and we
never could figure out a way for me to do this. I would get angry
with myself and/or my husband and blame it on our culture or my
upbringing. You name it and I had someone to blame for why I “had”
to work. Granted, in hind sight I might do a lot of things differently
in setting up my life as a mother. But, we don’t really get
to act on our hind sight, except to share this wisdom with others
(especially our children).
Work pressure and feeling inadequate, or unworthy is my second
struggle. My work is very demanding and the schedule often unpredictable,
although many people think academia is a plush position. The problem
is it has no boundaries. It is acceptable (even expected) that you
live for academia – that you put this above all else –
including your family. This is deeply rooted in the history of academia.
However, there is so much work to do in just teaching, preparing
courses, advising and meeting with students, working on committees,
curriculum development, clinical teaching, (just to name a few),
that I don’t have time to do much scholarly work. None of
my colleagues have children at home, and many will spend 60 plus
hours a week on their professional lives. Therefore, I feel I haven’t
totally met the expectations of the college or my colleagues. I
feel inferior in many ways. However, I must choose to let this go.
I am technically 80% FT, but work about 40 hours a week (sometimes
more). If I did scholarly work – add another 6-8 hours.
Thirdly, working and tag teaming with my husband has resulted in
a strain on my marriage. However, with God’s help, we are
making it through the stress. We don’t fight and we enjoy
each other, but we aren’t as attentive to our emotional needs
as we should be. We have 4 days a month off together, BUT we do
have a lot more time together in the summer and at Christmas. This
has been a true gift from God. The problem is we’ve set up
our lives in a little cocoon. We have no extended family near, so
whatever needs to happen – we need to do it. While it has
been hard, I honestly don’t think I would change this.
So, in a sense I don’t feel I’ve performed at my mothering,
professional, or wifely role as well as I’d like. Although,
I know that I’ve given it my best.
Over the years I have even come to see why God didn’t provide
a way for me to stop working. While I enjoy my summers and time
off with my children, and I do feel “most right” when
I’m at home and focusing on the family – I also see
so many ways in which God has used my work. The amazing thing is
this: my work continues to ramp up (like most of society), but God
has given me a calm. Yes, it is stressful and yes, I’d jump
at the opportunity to do other things not related to my paid profession,
BUT I’m OKAY. There are still days I want to pull my hair
out. My very strong willed four year old is going through a particularly
hard time right now with the separation anxiety rearing up strongly
again. But, He has not forsaken me. I am NOT crazy. I CAN think.
He has kept me sane!
I’m not convinced that God wanted me to be a working mom.
I know a lot of working moms feel it’s their calling to work.
I did feel that about my work until I had my first child. I now
feel my calling is to be at home. BUT that doesn’t mean that
God can’t make something good out of a bad plan on my part.
It may not have been His plan for me, but He is bigger than my flops.
I see so many ways in which He has indeed turned my work into
a positive. I have met many people in this work that either positively
affected me – or I have had the chance to do something for
them. In the last year, I have had 3 students with major life crises.
I was able to reach out to them, physically help them, and share
some of my faith. They told me how much this meant to them and even
though they have graduated they continue to contact me. I enjoy
my students. I give them my best. I get a sense of satisfaction
I have a colleague with a recent family tragedy. I reached out
to her – took her a meal, sent regular emails, went to the
service. After the memorial, she whispered to me “thank you,
I can feel God’s love from you”. This is a child of
God. He used me!!
Providing for my family has been a gift. We’ve had many medical
and dental bills over the years. I don’t see how we could’ve
paid them if I weren’t working.
God has used my work to bring the right people into my family.
We’re at our new church because of a contact that I initiated
20 years ago at my hair salon. I chose this salon because I can
walk there from my office. If it hadn’t been for that contact
at the hair salon, we wouldn’t have (20 years later) quit
our old church and joined a brand new, on fire for God church. My
oldest got baptized this summer, my 9 year old and I got baptized
in October together and my 13 year old is getting baptized in January!
This is because of a contact I would not have had, had I not been
had my work. This is GOD! God is grabbing my family!
Working has also given me a perspective on mothering that I wouldn’t
have if I had stayed home. I cherish my time at home. I’m
excited to see my family. I look forward to summers and Christmas!
When my little ones would (will) say to me “Mommy, I don’t
want you to go to work tomorrow”. I can say, “I’ll
miss you too, but I always come home and that’s the best part
of my day”. We can both (all) look forward to reuniting. Maybe
they appreciate me more, as well???
My work has given me stories to tell about patients we’ve
helped or co-workers or students (both good and bad examples). It’s
also shown them how to persevere, even when you’d rather be
doing something else – even when it’s tough. (I use
this a lot when they are struggling with school and homework) I
had a very toxic administrator a few years ago. She was toxic to
everyone – not just me. My children heard me talk about it
and talk about how I was praying for her and for the situation.
After 3 years, she was let go. It was the culmination of years of
prayer. I shared this with my kids and made sure to remind them
I had been praying and this was God’s response to me (and
It’s only been in the last 5 or so years that I’ve
had a peace about working. I fear that prior to that I instilled
work values that weren’t healthy in my children – complaining
for example. I’m trying to do better now and hope that they
will learn from all my mistakes (although I know we all have to
make our own mistakes as well). I do tell them to plan their careers
so that they will have flexibility when they become parents, in
the event that they may want to stay home. I also tell them to talk
to their future spouse (before marriage) about the option of staying
home. They may have no idea they’ll want to stay home –
most people (at least for me) don’t know how they’ll
be changed by becoming mothers. I tell them to save one income and
live on the spouse’s income. If you can do it before children,
you can probably do it after children (or least only work part time).
My oldest leaves for college next fall . I’m going to miss
her so much! It hurts to even think about it. I do have some regrets
that I was so busy with work, but she has turned out very well –
responsible, caring, creative, resourceful, loyal, loving, generous,
and loves God! So, that tells me God can work in any situation.
He wants our children to love Him and to be well adjusted. Despite
my work demands, He has given me the strength, wisdom and resources
to do right by this child of mine. He has intervened (probably more
than I will ever know), to protect her from my mistakes and provide
what I couldn’t.
My biggest hope is that all my children love God and will be eternally
with Him and happy and safe. So far, that is happening. I keep praying
for everyone of them, every day. That He shows Himself to them –
that He sends the HS to convict them, to love them and to bring
them to Jesus. So far, that has happened. Although I won’t
give up praying every day, because Satan and his evil spirits would
love to have my children!
Favorite Bible Verse:
I have so many – depending on what’s going on. In the
last year, this passage has helped me a lot. I know God comes “right
away” as it is written in some translations. So, even when
I don’t see God at work, I trust He is helping “right
away” and I just need to be patient.
Isaiah 30: 15-18
The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, “I will keep
you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong
if you quietly trust me.” Then you stubbornly said, “no!
We will safely escape on speedy horses.” But those who chase
you will be even faster. As few as five of them, or even one, will
be enough to chase a thousand of you. …The Lord God is waiting
to show how kind he is and to have pity on you. The Lord always
does right; he blesses those who trust him.”
In the last few years, I have seen God work on some major life
crises (both work and family). I’m learning to trust Him more
as I have seen Him work. These things He has done are things that
were not possible in the natural world. In fact, each time He did
something, it came just as I thought I couldn’t take it anymore.
I was desperate and had been for a while. Nothing I had done seemed
to bring any relief. So, each time when the event(s) turned for
the better, I was overwhelmed because I “saw” God –
I “felt” God. It was powerful – in a physical
and spiritual way. I felt my body tingle, my legs shook, etc….
There are 3 major events I am recalling right now. There are other
smaller events that were just as clear – but not related to
a change of course in my life. But still, God is showing me he comes
to help and he does require us to trust Him. This is what I’m
Words of Encouragement for other Christian Working Moms:
Keep trusting. Be patient. If you have young children, it does
get better as they get older! If you keep having younger children
(like I have done), then keep waiting - it will eventually get better
– even if it takes 20 years ! Keep talking to your kids. Use
your mistakes or wisdom to help them. Over time, you’ll look
back and see how God has worked and how amazing it is that you are
still OK! You may not see it right now, especially if you are new
to working and struggling internally – if working doesn’t
really fit your calling to stay at home. God will keep you sane
– He promises He’ll never leave us. We all have to keep
holding on to that when times are hard.
Cheryl, I really appreciate your words of wisdom and for taking
time to share them with us. My oldest “baby” just finished
her first semester of college. It has been difficult, but also neat
to see her grow up and be independent. One of the things I appreciate
about what you said is how God is sovereign in all that happens
in our lives. Also, I would like to share with everyone a thought
that came to be recently about being a parent. If my husband and
I were the “perfect parents” (don’t know any do
you?) then my children wouldn’t need God. God will continue
to grow my children in His image. That is a great comfort and relief.
Be thinking about what spiritual resolutions you will make in 2013
for your own personal walk with Christ and for your family as well.
Till next time,
Kimberly M. Chastain
Kimberly M. Chastain, MS, LMFT is the Christian Working
Mom Coach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the
author of The Voices of Christian Working Moms, 2 ebooks and an
online Bible study. To find out how to receive coaching tips by
email daily, go to http://www.kimberlychastain.com/cwmtips.htm.
To find out more about her books go to www.christianworkingmom.com.
For a free, initial coaching session send an email to email@example.com.