What You Do Matters
Written by Debbie Pennington
After an interview question about my annual income surprised me, I pondered why homemakers are often reluctant to recognize their worth.
“What is your annual income?”
The question caught me by surprise. It’s not an unusual question to be asked during an insurance evaluation. Still, I’m not used to answering it in the context of just my income alone, without including my husband’s salary.
The question I was most prepared for was asked later. “What’s your job title?”
At least I had an idea of how to answer that one: homemaker, homeschool teacher, hobby farmer, editor. Any one of these would have been accurate. But it’s only the editing work that earns me a small paycheck, which meant it was the answer to go on the form.
So I’m sorry to say that when asked about my income, my initial reaction was to start laughing. I gave a very small number in my reply and said I might clear that amount this year.
The response: “Oh wow! Is that because you’ve just started and haven’t been working long?”
Uh-oh. This is now awkward.
“No,” I chuckled uncomfortably. “It’s because it’s nonprofit work, I charge bargain-basement rates, and the hours I set aside to do this are very part-time.”
The interview concluded without further incident, and I’m 100 percent certain the agent was just expressing surprise at the low figure and meant nothing more by it. But the exchange caused a pesky invader, a fiery dart of doubt and self-pity, to enter my mind (Ephesians 6:16).
Why did I let that question impact me?
Logically, I’m well aware that what I do daily has great value for my family. You’re probably familiar with the occasional studies done that determine how much a stay-at-home mom “should” get paid based on the jobs she does all day. Suggested annual salaries are consistently over $100,000.
And besides the very practical things I do each day (dishes, laundry, food prep), it’s a joy to teach my children and share in their discoveries as they learn. There’s even a little time left for hobbies, and the kids and I share the farm responsibilities. I do recognize the profound blessings in not having to provide an additional income. I am deeply grateful.
So the impact I allowed this conversation to make on me was entirely of my own doing.
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,” Solomon tells us (Proverbs 12:25). Why was I particularly susceptible to that fiery dart that day? I don’t know, but it hit. And it stung.
Have you also been impacted by that question?
Ladies, what you do matters. We all need to be reminded of this from time to time, but perhaps the homemakers and moms need to hear it the most.
Isn’t it interesting (and sad!) that we sometimes allow ourselves to derive worth from a paycheck or some other status symbol rather than from work itself? As if what we do is somehow “lesser” because it doesn’t come with a six-figure income?
And isn’t it even more interesting that we somehow feel suddenly justified and validated when we put that six-figure income value onto what we do? That’s right! What I do is worth $100,000!
Why do we do this?
I submit to you it’s because we’ve allowed how our society views and values what we do to impact how we view and value ourselves. If you’ve fallen into this trap, as I did recently, perhaps it’s time for a reminder of a familiar proverb: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). This is the same woman who “watches over the ways of her household” (verse 27).
In other words, she’s a homemaker, ladies.
(By the way, did you know that quality rubies are rarer than diamonds?)
Homemaking is an honorable occupation!
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he described managing the house as an honorable occupation for women (1 Timothy 5:14). In a letter to Titus, he urged the older women to encourage the younger women in their homemaking and child-rearing responsibilities (Titus 2:4-5). These are not shameful occupations. They are deeply meaningful!
Of course, I understand—as I’m sure you do—that there’s a detailed description of the type of woman the virtuous wife is. It goes far beyond the practical aspects of managing a home and providing for the physical needs of children. But the point of this particular blog post is to help you see value in what you do and who you are.
You’re priceless, ladies. You’re beautiful gems. What you do matters. Your daily example to your family matters. You have value, what you do all day long has value, and most importantly, you have deeply precious value in the eyes of God.
It took me a few days of self-pity to shake the splinter from my mind. Thankfully, my “tribe” was there with supportive, loving words to encourage me. Their good words helped lift me back up again, together with prayer, as I took my problem privately to God.
Good words. That just happens to be the end of that proverb: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (emphasis added).
I hope these good words and bloggy thoughts offer you encouragement and support, especially if you’ve been feeling weighed down lately.
Remember: You’re priceless, and what you do matters.
If you’ve ever struggled to find the right answer when asked about your chosen occupation to be a homemaker, check out our article “What Do You Do?”