I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we mothers decided that we should be busy. I blame the NIV Bible, which translates Titus 2:5 like this:
to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Interestingly, the “busy at home” rendered there is οἰκουργούς, a funny little Greek word whose literal meaning was understood by its hearers as, “the one who has care of a house,” or “domestically inclined.” The NASB and ESV translate it as “workers at home” or “working at home,” respectively. The KJV used the sweet term “keepers at home,” and I admit, I’m partial to that label.
To keep a home sounds noble, like keeping a lighthouse, or tending a hearth. It sounds like work, yes. But it doesn’t sound busy. Purposeful, yes. But busy? No.
Busy, to me, is not just a to-do list. Busy is a mind pulled away, an eye clouded with distractions. Busy is darting from place to place or task to task. Busy is a life with no margin, time together but not connected.
I do not want to be busy. Not outside my home, and not in it. I want to keep my home, to look wisely to its workings, to be engaged in running it smoothly, to make it a cozy nest for the people God has given me to serve here, now. But I don’t want to be busy about it. I want to to be at peace as I am working in my home.
The word “keep” sounds restful to me. It sounds like an abiding, a stretch of time embraced. It sounds purposeful, but somehow filling, in exactly the same ways that busy sounds chaotic and draining.
For most women, it’s a badge of honor to be busy. Ask just about anyone how they’ve been, and they will reply, “Oh, busy!” Then they will likely tell you how much work it is keeping up with their children, homeschooling, appointments, and more. They will show you how full their plate is and laugh, because we all know how it is. Life moves at a rapid, full clip, and we are told we must run after it or miss out.
We applaud busy because we think that the opposite of “busy” is “lazy.” But what if the opposite of “busy” is actually “rest?” What if it wasn’t a vision of a house overrun with dirty dishes or a husband digging in a laundry bin hoping for semi-clean underwear, but instead a glimpse of order without anxiety, or a whole string of suppers not broken up by music lessons or late meetings? How would that change your idea of being a wife, a mother, a woman?
Paul tells us in Hebrews 4:10-11:
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
There is nothing wrong with not— not signing up for the at-home business, not adding another team sport, not volunteering for another women’s ministry, not saying yes to the hundreds of small things that eat up your rest and leave you not keeping home, but busy at it. Imagine a CEO being offered an additional job. That person would laugh. And why? He or she already has a full-time role to fill. They aren’t in the market for a second career. That would rob them of their ability to do their first job well!
There is, therefore, nothing wrong with rest. Nothing wrong with a slower pace, nothing wrong with creating margin, nothing wrong with choosing to build peace into your days.
I want to remember to enter into God’s rest. I want to avoid the example of filling my days to overflowing to the point where my children see me doing, doing, doing… but rarely being accessible to make true, deep connections with them. I want to keep my home, look well to it, and do the work I am called to… without forgetting that my first calling is to the people who live within these walls. Not the walls themselves, or to any man outside them. What I want, then, is to rest in who I was created to be, the season I am in, and the life I have been given. Some days this feels like an impossible ask— but I resolve to keep pursuing it, anyhow.