How My Heart Was Turned To My Father, Family and Home
By Genevieve Smith
I was raised to be independent and career oriented. My schooling included a strong academic program, which left no time for learning domestic skills. You wouldn’t think it now to look at me. I’m 24 and am living at home. I help my father in his ministry and assist my mother at home. But it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand. And it was even less time ago that I was working a highly paid legal executive job for a prominent solicitor [lawyer]. The Lord has done quite a work in my life since this time. He has turned my heart to my father, my family and my home.
My story starts a number of years ago when I traveled with my brother to the USA for a lengthy stay. The same day we left New Zealand, the solicitor I was working for sold his practice to study for the ministry. If I’d wondered before, I had no doubt now that I wouldn’t be able to pick my job back up on returning to New Zealand. So began a long period of praying for direction from the Lord and seeking His will for my life. A number of things happened during this time which changed the course of my life.
Firstly, my eyes were opened to some of the sinful practices I’d fallen into at home. I had developed ways of relating to my parents, which were not honouring or respectful to them, and I realized that in many ways I had not been a good example to my younger siblings. This realization of my sin had me stunned for some time since I’d always aspired to be like my father and had always counted the members of my family as my best friends. Nevertheless, it is true that I needed to repent of many wrong actions towards my family.
Secondly, I heard four separate speakers in the space of a short time give a vision for family ministries. In particular, one speaker, Doug Phillips, on his tape entitled, “What’s a Girl To Do?,” revealed the beauty of family ministries by explaining that girls, prior to marriage, could practice for being a helpmate to their husbands by assisting their fathers in their ministries. I was taken by the representation of family unity and strength he described. And it struck me, “My father has a ministry. I could work for him.”
Thirdly, I came across and read some amazing books: The Way Home by Mary Pride; Domestic Tranquility by Carolyn E Graglia; How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macauley; Mother by Kathleen Norris and Home-Making by J R Miller.
Each of these things led to a change of heart and priorities. Though I was raised to be independent, my desire grew strong to be under the roof and protection of my father, to submit to his day-to-day direction and guidance of my life and to work to make his life and ministry a success. And though I had been raised to be career oriented, my desire to work outside of my home dwindled. I became cautious of becoming an employer’s helper and instead wanted to become my father’s helper and prepare for marriage. My relationships with my family became all important, as did my desire to learn how to be a Godly and skillful wife, mother and homemaker.
On a long-distance phone call home to my parents from the USA, I broached the idea of working for my father. They were delighted at the prospect. This delighted me, and I could hardly wait until my trip in the USA was over – but I had another whole year before I was scheduled to go home! It became apparent fairly soon that while my father could give me lots of work to do, his ministry did not have the finances to support another worker. Surprisingly, to me, this did not bother me at all.
I have now been home for quite some time. I have been able to be of help to my father and have thoroughly enjoyed our walks to the post office each morning. My mother has appreciated my help around the house, and I’ve benefited immensely from being able to assist her. She recently had her hip replaced and will have her other hip replaced shortly. Since I’m at home, I was able to take over the managing of the house and also care for her while she was bedridden for several months. I’ve delighted in being able to build friendships with my siblings and have marveled as the Lord has brought another little wee child into our lives – a little sister we take care of and hope to be able to adopt one day. My mother has assigned me to take care of all the budgeting, buying and cooking, and I’ve loved learning these new skills and experimenting with cooking styles and recipes to come up with mouth-watering meals to please my family. I have noticed that my hardness, brusqueness and impatience, which was built into my life as a result of having to protect myself, has given way, as I’ve put myself under the protection of my father, to a newly forming softness, warmth and love.
In the eyes of the world, I’m wasting my life as my old legal cronies take every opportunity to tell me. I’m not earning any money and am not pursuing independence or a career the way I “should be.” But I reject the ways of the world. The Lord has shown me His ways. He has turned my heart towards my father, my family and my home and in following His leading I have come to recognize that I’m taking part in a much more important work with far more lasting consequences and a much higher priority than anything I was doing or pursuing before. God be praised.