I’m an Available Woman

I'm an Available Woman - Visionary Womanhood

Raise your hand if you raised your eyebrows at the title of this article. I’m sitting here at Caribou Coffee trying to cover up the title so nobody thinks something they’re not supposed to.

I took the title from a tasty little excerpt in a book I’m reading. You’ll love this:

“Last week at a conference in Boston, a middle aged woman whose name I have already forgotten said to me, “I’m an available woman. That’s my job. When people ask what I do, I just say I’m an available woman.” I asked if she ever found herself out of a job. Laughter was her only response. No doubt laughter has been the response of some of those who have heard her job description, but she does the job for God, not for the prestige.

The choice to become parents is a choice to be burden-bearers. Motherhood can change a giddy girl into a sober woman very quickly. Fatherhood also means taking on the frightening demands of providing for totally dependent people.

It means being willing to give up a good many hobbies and pastimes, the guarantee of an unbroken night’s sleep, the ease of coming and going when you please. It means a willingness to change a diaper (yes, even one that isn’t only wet), take out the garbage, read a bedtime story, lug the potty chair and the playpen and the carseat all over the place.

It means using a whole lot of skills you haven’t got, and not using the ones you know you’ve got. A friend who has experience in one prestigious field and is not working in a much humbler one wrote to me of the joy of knowing she is where God put her. But sometimes there’s a nagging little voice that reminds her that she isn’t “using her skills.” I quoted her to my sister-in-law, whose response was, “Good training for motherhood!”

The spiritual analogies are plain. The choice to become a spiritual parent is a choice to lose one’s life. It is a choice to become a burden bearer. Spiritual dependents are a disruption and a burden. The prospect is daunting, and the greater our appreciation of such a high calling, the greater our sense of inadequacy.

“High expectations can always be crippling,” writes a middle-aged bachelor, ruminating on the postponing of marriage and family. “I don’t want to be slipshod or inadequate, aloof or overbearing; I don’t want to…accept tasks that I will do poorly. And so I stop at the pool’s edge, computing the water’s depth, dipping a toe for the temperature, and premeditating, appraising, forming opinions, being practical and praiseworthy, while others very happily swim or pitifully sink. How to explain, otherwise, my ambivalence, my inability to say yes, of course to the issue of marrying and having children after so many paragraphs than to say that I am overawed by the importance and permanence and risk of the issue?

What God calls us to do is always impossible. Impossible, that is, without His help. It is always too big for us, too demanding. The price is too high. Yet He calls us to count not our lives dear to ourselves. Fathers and mothers haven’t much time to think about the impossibilities. They must simply do the job.

Taken from The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot.

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Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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7 thoughts on “I’m an Available Woman

  1. Great post. This past December we went to Brazil and visited lots of family and relatives.

    During a conversation with the husband of one of my cousins, he was in awe at the number of children I have (just 4!). So I told him he was doing a pretty good job with the 2 little ones he had, he should have more. His answer: ” No way. I took care of that (snip, snip) so we won’t be having any more. I can only love well two children.” I couldn’t resist and before I could stop my mouth I blurted out “Since when as a Christian we are asked to do only what we can do? I thought Jesus is the one who enables us to love and go beyond our capacities or abilities.” He just stared at me and we changed the subject.

    so yeah…. Selah.

  2. Convicting. Honestly, I don’t really want to get married right now (I recently turned 21, looking to finish my 4-year degree at some point, enjoying my family, etc). Is that a bad thing? I identified with everything the bachelor was saying. I seek perfection before marriage yet enjoy some independence now and look forward to new hobbies and activities. Yet, is my singleness for God or for me? I am thankful for this time in my life and the wonderful blessings that it brings. However, it is easy to idolize myself and my time, to look out for only me.

    Marriage is ordained by God, and I heartily embrace Scripture’s extremely high view of this covenant. Yet, when I think of marriage for myself, anxiousness ensues. Selflessness. This is what I am partly scared of and feel like I would fail in miserably. But Tereza is right, Jesus enable us to do what isn’t humanly possible. Selfless love is not humanly natural to us; it’s supernatural. The refining work in marriage is difficult but rewarding for our joy and His glory in the end. Over the past few months, He has been opening my eyes to understand this more.

    I’m reading Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot; every chapter refreshes my soul, dripping with Scriptural truth. Thank you for the excerpt.

  3. Thank you for sharing; you obviously have plugged into the gifts God has given you and have done so well by relying on our Lord. For those who may be struggling with enjoying their singleness, I’d like to remind them that the Bible also encourages that (see Paul’s writings). There were many single people who were used mightily of God because they were not as busy with the everyday ‘stuff.’ The difference is that our society over values busyness, so we praise the people who have done a lot. However, when we look at Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Apostle John, Apostle Paul and other single people in Scripture, they weren’t so much pursuing Businesses and other things that would make their earthly stay more comfortable, they were pursuing God. And whether male or female, God is still looking for those with a heart after Him more than anything else. Blessings!

    • True – God’s Word encourages single people in the fact that they can often focus better on other things related to ministry. But let’s be careful here. “Building businesses and other things” – and “pursuing God” are not mutually exclusive. And God has many children with “a heart after Him” who are single, married, rich, and poor (and a lot of other polar opposites). A heart after God is not defined by externals like marital status or vocational choices.