I have just spent an hour talking with our oldest daughter who is in Thailand with her husband doing missionary work. She’s been frustrated with their terribly busy life of teaching English, Bible studies at the Payap University, and helping out at IGO (Institute For Global Opportunities). She is six months along with their first, very much anticipated baby and is prone to tears and fears some days and marvelously fit and happy other days. While her husband has a lot of different responsibilities, they have the privilege of doing their missionary business (busy-ness) together most days.
As she was telling me all her heart…I was listening with all my heart…she concluded that I did not understand and what’s the use of trying to tell me. And that is true enough… I don’t understand a culture that considers it rude to ask who ones parents are and to show the bottom of your feet to anyone is equal to what we consider indecent exposure.
But I do understand what it is to begin to see the need for dependable routines in early marriage. After all the freedom and fun of nobody telling us what to do and when to do it there comes the chaos of too much of no routine. Let me explain.
I was reared in a home with strict unwavering, unvarying routine. You could have set your clocks by us. We lived on a forty cow dairy in Wisconsin and just the rigors of the weather changes behooved us to be timely as well as the cows having to be milked on time, every time The crops had to be planted and harvested not a week too late or too early. We got up the same time every morning seven days a week all year long to milk those cows and care for those crops. We also went to church three times a week no matter what was happening in life. So the cows told us when to come home while the church obligations told you when to be there.
After nineteen years of few breaks from the grind of routine; I was more than ready to eat breakfast at nine or not at all as I saw fit, and to go to bed when and if I felt like it. My husband was the world’s most non conventional guy, as well. Other than going to work which he always took rather seriously; he also enjoyed the freedom of no one telling us when it was time to do what. You might say it was the perfect way to ‘savor the moment’….for awhile.
Eventually though, after we had a couple little children in our house I started to wonder why Sundays, for instance, felt so hard to do. I would get to Monday feeling exhausted and troubled in my very soul. Finally I realized that at least some Sunday preparation had better be happening early in the week in order to achieve a happy Lord’s Day. Routine was my answer…Mom was right after-all! We started to stick to a routine; not as rigid as what I grew up with, but a routine nonetheless. I found out that when I did “Saturday cleaning” that Sunday was much more enjoyable, especially since we could have company without being ashamed of our surroundings. I could even find the children’s clothing and shoes on Sunday morning alleviating a whole lot of stress.
The other thing we discovered was that the “freedom” we thought we were enjoying was actually costing us precious moments of savoring the good things. We were so carelessly living along that the special times hardly seemed special.
I’d advise any young married woman whether she is a missionary or not, to adopt routines for work AND play and then will she learn to appreciate the special times as moments to savor.