Do You Work?

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Do You Work?

Post  Dan Ellsworth on Sat Apr 11 2009, 17:20

I don’t blame Rosie the Riveter (See http://www.rosiehomefrontstore.com/details.aspx?p=ROS-AFG&c=4&i=3.); she did what the nation needed at the time. While many men were away in World War Two, women filled their jobs, not only in factories, but even more, in offices. That crisis might have opened some doors, including social acceptance of women earning money. It might also have decreased social acceptance of women not earning money. When Judy and I were a young couple, considering then having children, it wasn’t considered offensive for somebody to ask her, “Do you work?”

As I prepared my tax returns for years, Judy, who did not get a paycheck for most of those years, was characterized in the tax instructions as a “nonworking spouse.” That never seemed right to me, but least of all when she went to New Jersey early in 2008, for over three weeks, to help with newborn granddaughter Hannah. Alone at home, I was domestically challenged.

This article is not just about hardworking homemakers, but that’s where it starts. I broaden it out later, and take in almost everybody. For early 2008, though, my experiences were highlighted in three bits of free verse. (Although I admire the rhyming poetry my father did, usually I lack the patience to do it.) The three-part series is called “I Have My Standards.”

Dishes Should Be Done Daily

Daily,
somewhere in the world,
some guy like me is doing dishes.
I'm sure of it.
So dishes are done daily, if weakly.

The nearest I come to OCD, or even discipline, is
pre-soak,
HOT water,
dish soap,
and actually scrub down to the utensil itself.
Merely removing recent layers is shoddy practice.
Oh, rinse too;
eating or drinking soap is not for everyone.
And for many of the things, I even put them away correctly,
whether I need to or not.

I have my standards.


Cleaning is Too Strong a Word

Cleaning is too strong a word.
It's just a sink and counter in the bathroom.
Noted philosopher Dave Barry wrote that
Women could detect dirt at a molecular level,
But men, only when it could support agriculture.
Not quite.

Far short of gardening,
the dirt around the sink was discouraging.
I go there to clean up.
If it's so dirty I hate to touch it,
What have I got?
So, with foam soap on wet tissues,
(It was either that or go get real cleaning tools.)
I went over the sink and the counter around it,
Committing erosion on the premises.
Cleaning is too strong a word.

But when a veteran non-noticer
Notices dirt,
It's time to act.

I have my standards.


I gave Judy a look at these while she was still away, and she liked them. When she came home, I had one more to write.


At Very Least, Appreciate

Gone a month,
she's been back five weeks.
Those things I learned from necessity,
helped by a notebook, marked before she left,
with how-to notes for routine domestic chores,
were done, the hard way,
fighting my ignorance and laziness
every step of the way.

Someday, I might have been securely competent,
if not quite efficient,
and someday, routine things might have become
routine.
Never happened. Still domestically challenged,
I thankfully welcomed her back,
and what I do around the house
has reverted almost to what it had been.

One thing, though, I did, not badly,
before she left,
and now, I think, better.
With earnestness and intensity,
I appreciate what she does,
and tell her.
That's an absolute minimum;
that must be done.

I have my standards.

This is Timely

For Mothers’ Day, let us have some respect for all the work mothers do that does not result in a paycheck.

In a recession, people who have long drawn their sense of self-worth from a paycheck might not be getting one – even though they are doing a lot of domestic and money-saving work, and maybe the work of looking for paid employment.

Pastor Bob is looking ahead to retirement, and some of us are already there. Prediction: His life will change, but for several reasons there will be substantial work in his life, as there is in ours – we who have allegedly retired:
● To some degree (and it varies widely), people can’t help working.
● We are disciples of Jesus Christ.
● Many of us are grandparents.
● Household work demands attention.
● (Parkinson’s Law) Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
● “You can do this; you’re retired.”

Who Works, and So What?

Babies work. If you can see how hard babies work, it might help you see work everywhere else. Babies work at their own development, but to me, that doesn’t disqualify it as work; I’m 65, and have some self-developmental work to do.

Watch a baby trying to do something for the first time. For me it’s very clear near the one-year mark, but whatever the age, notice the intensity, the persistence, the concentration, the work as Baby tries to do something. Others might exclaim over cuteness; I’m looking on respectfully at a serious worker; there, too, is beauty.

Grandma works. While it still doesn’t seem right to call the love of my life Grandma, it is in that role that Judy has done so much this week to put together an Easter dinner, in a clean and beautiful home setting, to bring family together. Yes, there is work involved in maintaining an extended family, even if the IRS does call it “nonworking.”

Purpose defines work. Money is not the only purpose of work. Self-development, family, care for people, all kinds of discipleship involve work. So let’s respect students, prayer partners, teachers, volunteers, and any little-recognized workers we can find.

You work; I work. Do you get the idea? Work is not just about money; that’s a convention of society that will only confuse us. Look at the full spectrum of purposeful activity in your life. If somebody asks, “Do you work?” and means for money, I hope you will challenge the careless question. I do, if only by saying, “Not for money any more.”

If I am going to succeed at the work I do, I can’t afford to cut myself down by not calling it work. That leads only to discouragement and less good work done. Give yourself decent due credit for what you do right. We are all finally saved by grace anyway, but while here, let us be balanced in self-evaluation.

Follow Jesus; be purposeful, and don’t be afraid to admit that, whatever society says, yes, you do work.

Dan Ellsworth
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hey Dan

Post  Tobiejo on Tue Apr 14 2009, 21:03

hey I wanted to let you know I read this and will be back to it. Cool

Tobiejo
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Thanks for the notice

Post  Dan Ellsworth on Tue Apr 14 2009, 22:26

Sometimes that's the message to give; I wasn't sure it was seen, and :-) it was.

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Re: Do You Work?

Post  williamwriter on Fri Apr 24 2009, 22:24

I thoroughly enjoyed this treatise on work. I have pondered work over my lifetime and have come to see many facets, kinda like the various faces of a diamond.

If this had been an essay rather than a reply, I might have started it off with "Right after Linda and I married, she spoke of her wish to use her college skills by working in a Beauty Salon, to which I hotly replied, 'No wife of mine is gonna work!' Of course, she got her a job anyway, much to my chagrin. (Of course, that was after she told me that I might be her husband, but I was not her king!)

At that time, and during the weeks to follow, I began to work all that out in my life.

First, I knew that I didn't really want to lead anyone's life but my own. Okay, I know I am the Spiritual leader according to the Scriptures; but what does that entail? I don't think it makes me the boss, expecially when I am learning the way myself! I believe my responsibility as the Spiritual leader is to do all possible to make sure my family is following the Lord.

Second, I realized that the statement "No wife of mine is gonna work!" was not me, but my Father speaking.

Third, I realized that I had worked hard to develop the men that I led in the Navy as a Petty Officer and that I wasn't doing the same for my wife. Well, not that I would develop her, but do all I could to encourage her and help her reach her goals in life and help her reach her full potential. I took the supportive and encouraging role.

A few other aspects of my life led me to my present perspective on work.

One, as an Elementary student and later, as a teen, I was fascinated with Utopia, the "suffering" of my poor family, and the audacity of the banks to try to take what I thought was ours. I may have had a false premise, because I think now that my parents' struggle with the finances was because they weren't good money managers and they didn't keep receipts that they should have safeguarded. Anyway, I tried to develop a social government that would put everyone to work on jobs that each could do and keep everyone paid to the point that they could meet their needs and go to the highest social level of reaching their highest achievements. Yes, it was a socialist system, but in my childhood and teens, I did not have any training in capitalism or socialism. I was responding to a world that I thought was against poor folks like my parents. The pages of my childhood work made a book that was 4 to 5 inches thick. After I joined the military, I burned the book when I came home on leave after Boot Camp, because I realized it was close to Communism. I was afraid because our enemy was the Communist Soviet Socialist Republic and I didn't want to appear to be a traitor. Later I wish I hadn't destroyed that work because it was just the ideas of a growing young man and I could have used it as I began to build my new ideas.

Two, I saw that work was the actual commodity; and that money was only a measure of work. Each unit of work was valuable in that the combination of all the work brought about the article that was being built or grown.

Three, later in life, I began to build my theory that the cost of items grow to match the amount of money an average household earns. For instance, in the gold rush days, eggs were cheap until miners got rich. After everyone had money in their pockets, an egg for breakfast cost ten times as much. What this means is that when only one person of a household made money doing a job, the price of things would cost X, but as two members of a household brought in money, the price of things would double or be 2X. So, while it is good that both husband and wife are able to develop in the work force and use their skills, they would create a social arrangement that forced other households to have two workers in the public work force.

But that leads to another thought. The reason my Dad would say "No wife of mine will help 'support the family' through public work!" was because the social structure was different in his childhood days. One can follow history and find the times of tribal societies such as Israel (the twelve tribes), societies such as the Spartans, the social structure of Rome, the Feudal System of the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution, the days of the Great Depression, the World War II years, and the modern times. And even in the modern times, you can go to different places in world and find tribal and other social systems going on. I believe a study would show that the units (the families for one) of a society lags the changes in the society. Why? Because we learn how to do things through our parents and elders, and their intructions and our training is from their social structure, not the new one that is developing during our lifetimes.

And then the clean up! Okay, here goes. The wife used to take care of the home because they were more apt to nurse the kids and the kids were at home. The husband used to go to the fields or factories, which were much more dismal than they are today. Of course, that is in some places. Other places would put kids in the mines and work them full days. Times are changed. So, if both spouses today work a job, then the house is no longer the "balancing" work, but rather should be shouldered by both. There are some old time jealousies, for sometimes when I try to do my fair share, it comes as a contest of "I can do this better than you because women know more about cooking than men". I wash my own clothes, but not Linda's because she uses the low heat cycle and the cold water, and other things. In other words, I cannot do her clothes right no matter how I try. I load the dishwasher often and I scrub the burned on stuff in pots and pans with the SOS pads.

But, there is a bigger problem that I don't know how we will deal with. I believe that each person is equal and has been put in a body that they did not choose. God breathes the life in the structure that becomes us, both body and soul. We don't pick the country, the economic level or public status, nor the color or sex. And some of us might be born with handicaps. However, we each have a destiny that is our own through God. We each have talents and abilities. We each want to reach our full potential.

Now, the house we can both do when we get home. The finances we can share. Hopefully, we can still pursue our goals in close proximity to each other. (Unlike movie stars who end up living lives apart from one another). We can leave our jealousy when one spouse makes much more money than the other. We can continue the battle for equal pay regardless of sex.

But, your children! That is where we lose in a two spouse working society. We leave our kids to be brought up by the schools and the baby sitters. Now, perhaps retired grandparents can bring up the next generation. Yeah, I know. We did our part...but perhaps that needs to be put up on the brainstorming board for consideration anyway.

Well, are we reaching our full potential just because we are working a production or public job? Which jobs develop a person and which ones don't? If we went back to a one spouse working outside the home situation in America, couldn't the other one develop skills in perhaps writing or art? And yes, still split the household duties so the one at home could be there for the kids as well as grow in development. I mean, in a new society, we need to be able to do new things to meet the challenges.

Well, one day I would like to take up this plow again and attempt to take it to a conclusion. And I haven't even touched on the work we do for the Lord. And, yes, we are saved by the grace of God. He didn't have to have a system whereby we could have faith through which we can be saved. But He saved us to good works, for as James writes, "I will show you my faith through my works". If we have faith in God we will obey Him for He becomes our Master. However, a person is not "kept" saved through his works for that would bring in the back door. In other words, you are saved by grace through faith and because you received Christ, you become a new creation sealed with the Holy Spirit. You don't keep your salvation through your works, but you work because you love Jesus.

And this is the most individual development that a person will ever get. The growth of a person in Christ. A woman can use her individual freedom to become an astronaut, but if she does not grow in the Lord, being an astronaut loses its importance.

So, it is a mighty deep well! This well of what work means.

As for me, I have worked all my life for the man and now I am working for the woman! Laughing Linda told me to watch out when I said that to her after my retirement.

Yours,
-William
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williamwriter
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I have awakened the philosopher again! :-)

Post  Dan Ellsworth on Sat Apr 25 2009, 00:46

William, you HAVE been thinking about it, and bringing a lot to those thoughts. I don't have point-by-point responses to what you wrote, but I think you have some sound structures and good explorations of thought. Your Linda seems to be a strong, vital, and interesting person. I know Judy is that. They didn't get that way by (as the IRS puts it) nonworking. I might well re-read your thoughts another day. Tomorrow morning is my Lay Speaking class, and some sleep would be in order.

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Re: Do You Work?

Post  williamwriter on Sat Apr 25 2009, 16:09

Wow! Lay Speaking Course! I need to sign up for another speaking course! There is nothing more exciting than speaking to an audience! The adrenaline rush enables you to spring forth energetically with your thoughts! Your message rushes from your brain to your heart, and then spews forth from your fingers, fist, mouth, and flares as a sparkling fire of excitement from your eyes!

So, study hard study and fire 'em up! Very Happy
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