by Holly Pierlot
Sophia Institute Press, 2004.
Our God is a god of order. He brought order out of the soupy chaos, as chronicled in Genesis, and in order to fully embrace Him, we must do the same. This review is later than it should be because of the [fallen] response to a book outlining schedules, priorities, and order in the home. In the year 2000, Holly “pounded her fist on the kitchen table” and demanded a change in her life – resulting in this well-thought out and comprehensive book. Your reviewer was slower on the uptake, thinking a little chaos was healthy thing, until she finally hit the wall as well. The beautiful surprise is that surrendering to order is a victory for freedom.
Once the book is actually cracked and begun, the reader discovers a soul-mate in Holly – a good-hearted woman with oats to sow, with sins to confess, and an aversion to constraints. Like most mothers of orderly households, there is the breadth of humanness, from self-absorption to heroic generosity and everything in between. Most importantly, like any radical alteration, she had to really want to change.
For my children, I’ve defined maturity as “doing the right thing for the right reason.” As I age, I’ve seen more and more that people often do the right thing for the wrong reasons. For example, it is entirely possible to see to your children’s hygiene, your house’s spotlessness, and your family’s punctuality for the sake of human respect. We all succumb to considering “what others think of us” to some degree, and yet there is an inverse response – to flout convention for the sake of “not going with the crowd,” or (especially with women) to be mired in a perpetual “passive-aggressive mode” with our own dear mothers.
The beauty of maturity is to face God as a grateful child and to ask Him, “What would You have me do – out of love for You and those who depend on me.” As Holly’s life disintegrated, she finally took it to prayer and came up with a set of priorities: God, herself, her husband, her children, and then other important things, such as work. I must confess, putting herself second on that list won me over. (It has been a sneaking suspicion of mine for decades that I am supposed to come last, and that has led me to constantly carve out for myself snippets of time and comfort, which made me feel both safe and enormously guilty.) What did she mean?
Putting herself second was practical step in acknowledging that she could not give of herself to her family and her work – both inside the home and outside – unless she were taken care of. Taking care of herself was not indulgent (shopping, pedicures, vacations, and idle gab-fests with the girls) but necessary (prayer, rest, down-time, and generally recharging the batteries). In that context, knowing that she is not to be the local doormat, a woman can face the calendar and ask what she genuinely needs. With herself taken care of, the rest comes tumbling after – without panic, oppression, or fear.
The days are just as full, the chores are just as pressing, and the children are just as needy. But there is comfort in knowing that in God’s good time there is time for all. Be not afraid to consider a schedule. Mine will never be as detailed as Holly’s – but at least there is one now, complete with firm bedtime and reserved reading hours. God separated the light from the dark, and on laundry days I do the same. But on the other days it just sits in the basket – and that’s okay. All in due time.