Kristen Deede Johnson: Feeding My Kids Every Day Is an Opportunity for Prayer

Image: Kody Dahl / Unsplash

In recent months, a number of my friends have become converts to the way of the Instant Pot. As I’ve listened to them share the many ways in which Instant Pot cooking makes their lives easier, I’ve found myself wondering: What is it about life today that makes those with an Instant Pot so very grateful for this gadget? Conversely, what makes those of us without one imagine that it could solve every meal-making crisis that we face?

This Mother’s Day, like every day, a lot of women in my demographic face an ongoing quandary: Our ability to tend to the home is often compromised by the pace of life that many of us are living, the norms that we’re trying to uphold, and the multiple callings to which we’re trying to be faithful. Despite our sincere desire to treasure the ordinary and embrace the quotidian, it often feels like the caregiving parts of our calling get relegated to the cracks and margins in our lives. And yet Scripture’s invitations—to “give thanks in all circumstances” and “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17–18)—apply as much to those cracks and margins as to any area of our lives. How, then, do we pray and “practice the presence of God” in the midst of these daily pressures?

I’ve found this struggle especially poignant in the context of daily lunch-making. I would buy an Instant Pot in a minute if it could make my kids’ school lunches for me. As I wash grapes and roll up slices of turkey, I can feel welling up inside me the need to do something more productive, the sense that my time would be better spent cranking out emails, and the desire to get this done as fast as humanly possible.

The pressure to squeeze lunch-making into the cracks is not unique to me as a working mom. I watch my single friends struggle to find time to even get groceries in the fridge, never mind to cook and clean. And I listen to my homeschooling friends struggle to fit everything in, too. Even my friends with a deep commitment to hospitality feel the stress that comes from commercially established standards of housekeeping and food-making. We all feel these tensions, even as we long to live differently.

The phenomenon of “feeling rushed” has become so noticeable that it’s now a measure used by the Pew Research Center. A quarter of women surveyed said they feel rushed all of the time. This increase in pressure comes in part from shifting norms around work and also from shifting norms around parenting. Another part of the picture—perhaps the most notable one—is related to the degree to which we as a society have attuned our lives to the cultural values of efficiency and productivity.

As Anne-Marie Slaughter notes in Unfinished Business, American society as a whole has identified the competitive world of breadwinning as more important than caregiving. That means we often don’t know how to value acts of caregiving—from cherishing lunch preparation to tending to our aging relatives to investing in our communities—or to name why they matter.

As a believer, I face the additional challenge of naming why caregiving matters from a Christian perspective. Scripture, however, makes this delightfully clear. When I read the whole biblical story in light of the themes of home, homemaking, and caregiving, I begin to see them everywhere: God created a home for us in which we could dwell with him and care for each other and the rest of his creation. We lost our home when we were expelled from the garden. God made a covenant with Abraham, promising his descendants a promised land in which they could make their homes. Jesus tells his disciples that they will join him in his Father’s home, full of many rooms. God promises that in the age to come, we will dwell with him in his redeemed creation.

All throughout the Bible, we read about God caring for his people by providing food, drink, and clothing (including the very tender act of making Adam and Eve clothes after they had sinned). The psalms, too, reflect themes of caregiving. “The psalmist’s portrayal [in Psalm 104] is of God as a great housekeeper,” writes Margaret Kim Peterson, “pitching a tent, clothing himself with light and the earth with water as with garments, ordering boundaries, making homes for creatures, giving them food, sustaining all life, creating and re-creating through the Spirit.”

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Source: Christianity Today