Guarding Through Formation
I wrote previously (April 2, 2019) that "keepers at home" can also be translated "workers at home." The word keeping carries the connotation of guarding. And guarding takes WORK! As mothers and homemakers, we are not only guarding our children and our homes against the ungodly influences of the world, but we must also guard against the ungodly habits of our—and our children's—sinful hearts.
The kind of guarding I'm referring to here is what is often called spiritual formation. In other words, we are not just trying to guard our homes and our children from bad things; we are also working to instill good things. We guard our own hearts and lives by developing good habits, by diligently practicing those things that lead to life, to peace, and ultimately to knowing God. In the same way, we must guard our children's lives by training them in good habits, the personal disciplines that lead to peace and order, and the pathways that will lead them to God.
This is what spiritual formation is all about: disciplining ourselves and discipling others, namely our children. Through the process of forming good habits in our children, we are guarding their souls from sloth, disorder, lack of purpose, uncouth manners, self-centeredness, anger, and a host of other negative habits that threaten to engulf their lives, life patterns that can destroy them personally and socially.
The home and our growing-up years form the basis of our life habits. They are the place and time that shape our concepts of what is "normal." And what is normal to us is how we will continue to live out our lives without having to even think about it. That's the nature of life-forming habits. But here's the rub: our habits reflect our values. Those values are shaped in the home as we grow up. Whether those values are thought through and intentional or not, the way we live our lives, our habitual practices, are caught and passed on to the next generation.
For most of us (and I would venture to say, all of us), what we "caught" as "normal" during our growing-up years had its flaws; for no parents, no matter how wonderful, are perfect. When we find ourselves as keepers of our own homes and parents of our own children, we realize there are things that we need to discipline out of ourselves and things we need to discipline into ourselves. Choices and intention. We need to actively get rid of old habits and intentionally train ourselves in new habits.
What do we want our homes to look like? Of course, I'm not simply speaking of physical appearance, though that is certainly part of it. But let's think a little deeper. What are our values? What do we want to emanate (emerge, flow, pour forth) from our homes? What air do we want our homes to breathe? What will be the norm? Take some time to think about that and pray over that. Write those things down, and keep them before God in prayer. Ask Him to make you that kind of "keeper at home."