I have come to the last chapter of Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd. I have finished the book that was intended to take twelve months and be discussed in a group of women. I read this last chapter in the middle of the night, a hard time in my caregiving journey with my husband's Alzheimer's and my reflections begin below. The Journaling Questions from pp. 239-240 are in red and my answers are in black.
- What was your utopian vision of marriage and your future as a Christian? Possibly the "happily every after" myth. Marriage will make life easier.
- Dating is a preparation and training time before marriage. How often in your dating relationships did you forsake all you had to give for a bowl of pottage? Have you continued this behavior in your marriage? How is this symbolic of your discipleship?
- Where are you affections out of balance? I wrestle with depression these days as a caregiver. I want my cross to be easy and it is not. I need to accept the role of a senior citizen whose husband is going down hill. How can human affections be a bad thing, and how must they change for a disciple of Christ? I need to accept that cross that is before me.
- Have you ever considered your status as a Christian to have costly consequences? Think of a time where you have grown spiritually from enduring an affliction faithfully. Was the outcome what you expected? Measure the value of what you have lost to that which you have gained. I have and I am.
- How does a theology of the cross completely contradict the so-called American spirituality of our culture? What does the world tell us to desire as opposed to what Christ tells us to desire? Brene Brown, best-seller spiritualist whom is featured on Oprah, says to accept shame. On the other hand, Christ tells us to deal with sin by confessing and coming to His cross. Dr. Brown totally misses the mark, but I am reading her book The Gift of Imperfection to understand people who quote her at Toastmasters.
- How do you see cheap grace being offered in much of contemporary evangelicalism? How is this a great challenge for the church today? I am in a Reformed church now and do not know how cheap grace is being offered.
- If the profession of the gospel demands the cross, how do many so-called Christian messages being taught and preached today completely miss the mark? "Your best life now" ideas certainly miss the mark. My best life will be in heaven when I lay my crown at His feet.
- In what ways does this Scripture in Luke 14:25-33 contradict the cultural obsession with independence and competency? Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. This concept has so hit me and blessed me with this chapter 12.
- How does affliction lead us to the cross? There is nothing to do for our heavy load but accept my cross of suffering, follow Christ and become His disciple.
- What is the danger of confusing gospel with law? What I can do and preform is the law. Taking up the cross of suffering is the gospel of grace, expensive grace. I get it.
- If you are single, what presuppositions do you have about housewives? When I was single, which I was until I was 40, I thought that housewives were wonderful but boring. Do you think that there are similarities in the world's view of housewives and their view of Christians? Yep.
- In what ways does your role in marriage symbolize our Scripture passage? I have been thinking about being myself in all of life, not putting on airs, and yes coming to the cross. Still being "me" has to be transformed into being that disciple that is willing to accept suffering. Being willing to accept suffering I am sure is a key to my depression that has encircled me of late as my husband's dementia has gotten worse. I have to accept enough theology to realize this. As I pour over lamenting passages of Scripture, such as many in the Psalms, I realize that He will bear me up as I bear that cross.
So in this final chapter, I hope to prove all those wrong who claim that doctrine and theology are impractical, and I will do so my using the words of a so-called stuffy theologian from the sixteenth century, John Calvin himself, to help us ordinary housewives. . . . Calvin suggests that so many of us give in to even the smallest temptations because we have this false, ideological picture of an easy Christian life. He warms us, "No man will ever become fit to serve Christ till he has undergone a long preparation for warfare." (p. 227-228)
My husband once owned Calvin's Institutes, but in simplifying our library my husband was willing to part with many books and our collective theological library has been pared down and is collecting dust on the bookshelves. I am glad that our Associate Pastor got the Institutes, and that I can benefit from the theology in his sermons.
Can I be a caregiver theologian? Put it simply,
I can as I accept the suffering laid out before me.
Calvin, via Aimee, has at least taught me that.
Thank you, Aimee Byrd, for taking me on this journey applying theology in my life. Now for the hard part--taking up that caregiving cross willingly. Yet He has promised His burden is light.