You’ve probably heard that later this month Southwestern is hosting The Art of Homemaking Conference. As I talk about the conference with our students, I keep getting two pretty different reactions. Some women who are really looking forward to the conference get excited whenever I bring it up. However, other women I talk to kind of roll their eyes when I mention it and act like it’s the last place they would want to be. Without fail, those eye-rolling ladies are single. The reality is that “homemaking” just isn’t a cool topic for a lot of young, single women.
Here’s some of what I’ve heard from my single students and friends:
- People will think I am in school just to get my “Mrs.” Degree if I go.
- Women’s conferences are just fluff and feelings—no thanks!
- I am here for a theological degree, not for home decorating tips.
- “Homemaking” is just not relevant to my season of life right now.
As a single woman myself, I get where they are coming from. (FYI – this conference will be anything but fluff.) If I were to be completely honest, there was a time when I probably would have said some of the same things. I will never be accused of being the next Martha Stewart, and home decorating tips don’t make me swoon. However, homemaking is so much more than window treatments and DIY Pinterest projects. And, for a single woman like me, it still matters.
Popular opinion says that “homemaking” is just for married women and that you have to check your intellectual creds at the door to be interested in the topic. But even more than that, I am afraid we are losing a biblical understanding of what the “home” is supposed to be.
At its simplest definition, “homemaking” means the creation and management of a home and making your house (or apartment or dorm room) into a pleasant place to live and serve others. Biblically, your home is a tool that can be used for God to meet the practical needs of others and by God to develop very valuable discipline in your own life.
Jani Ortlund, in her book Fearlessly Feminine, said, “I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion” (p. 147). I hope we can recapture this vision for our homes, married or single.
Single ladies, you are homemakers. You manage your own home. Maybe some of you are still living with your parents. If so, you have a responsibility to contribute to it being a prepared and peaceful environment for all who live there. Whether you live in a cramped dorm room or an apartment or a house, you play a part in making it into a pleasant place to live and deciding whether it is used as a tool for ministry.
A few years ago, I realized it was easier for me to view my car as a tool for ministry than my home. I would take students home from church, let students borrow my car, or volunteer to pick people up from the airport. But my apartment? That was my place. I felt like it was too small and not “Martha Stewarty” enough to be a place of ministry—frankly, I was both insecure and prideful. But hearing from other godly women (married and single) with the gift of hospitality, has caused me to refine my thinking about my singleness and homemaking.
When I come across a verse like Proverbs 31:27, “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness,” I evaluate how I am doing watching over my household instead of just dismissing the verse as not applicable to me right now since I am single. Practically speaking, I’ve learned that “looking well to the ways” of my house involves several things:
- Developing a right attitude and perspective. I hate to admit it, but that means even cleaning the bathroom can be done with a Colossians 3:23-24 kind of attitude! Doing housework actually helps remind me that any task can be done as an act of service to the Lord and with a spirit of humility. In this way, God uses cleaning my house as a method of developing godly character in me.
- Being trained and equipped in running my own household (everything from proper cleaning techniques, being organized, cooking, shopping, managing finances, etc.). When I see someone who excels in an area I am weak, I ask for help or advice. God has given me my home as a stewardship, and I want to make sure I am responsible with what I have been entrusted. Proverbs 24:3 says, “by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” God wants us to bring our intellectual abilities as well as our practical skills to our homes.
- Safeguarding my home. I am responsible for the influences I allow in my house, especially through TV and the internet. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be on guard and watchful against our adversary the devil and part of this involves safeguarding our homes against evil influences.
- Being diligent. A virtuous woman does not eat the bread of idleness (Prov. 31:27b), and God continues to use housework to help combat a spirit of laziness in my life since cleaning must be done over and over again (see also Ecc. 10:18). It’s not fun cleaning the same toilet every week; it’s a discipline.
- Learning my limits. Learning how to manage my home has helped me learn my own limits in regards to finances and even time commitments. I can’t do it all (and neither can you), but I am convinced that keeping an orderly home should be one of my priorities (see Prov. 16:18 and 1 Cor. 14:40). When my home is in order, I feel like my life is more in order. Plus, I feel much more ready to welcome someone in who needs to talk when my sink isn’t piled up with dishes!
- Transforming my ideas about hospitality. Romans 12:13 makes it clear that hospitality is the duty of all Christians, and often it is a tool for evangelism and discipleship. To be hospitable means to be generous with your friendship towards guests. It is a way of life for every believer to cultivate.
Single ladies, I hope you don’t think about homemaking in a negative light. But if you do, I hope you will join me in allowing God to transform our thinking in regards to homemaking. Each of our homes can serve to disciple us in the process of godliness and can serve as tools for ministry if we are willing.
P.S. If you are free on October 25 and 26, I hope you’ll join me at The Art of Homemaking Conference!
 “The Art of Homemaking” Conference is in conjunction with the recent release of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook that was edited by Dr. Dorothy Patterson and Dr. Pat Ennis of our faculty.