Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 9, 1886

Woman in the Home

By Mrs. E. G. White

The principle inculcated by the injunction, “Be ye kindly affectioned one to another,” lies at the very foundation of domestic happiness. Christian courtesy should reign in every household. It is cheap, but it has power to soften natures which would grow hard and rough without it. The cultivation of a uniform courtesy, a willingness to do by others as we would like them to do by us, would banish half the ills of life. The wife and mother may bind the hearts of her husband and children to her own by the strong chords of love, if in her intercourse with them she will manifest unvarying love in gentle words and courteous deportment.

Marked diversities of disposition and character frequently exist in the same family; for it is in the order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together. When this is the case, each member of the household should sacredly regard the feelings, and respect the rights of the others. By this means mutual consideration and forbearance will be cultivated, prejudices will be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Harmony may be secured, and the blending of the varied temperaments may be a benefit to each. Christian courtesy is the golden clasp uniting the members of the family in bonds of love that become closer and stronger every day.

In many cases homes are made unhappy by the useless repining of the wife and mother, who turns with distaste from the simple, homely tasks of her domestic life. She looks upon her cares and duties as hardships, and the ministrations which might be made pleasant and interesting become the merest drudgery.

Many a woman goes through the routine of her daily duties with fidelity and exactness, while she is all the time comparing her lot with that of others whom she considers more favored, and is cherishing unsanctified longings for an easier position, where she will be free from the petty cares and exactions that vex her spirit. She little dreams that in that widely different sphere to which she aspires, trials fully as vexatious, though perhaps of a different nature, would certainly beset her. And while she is fruitlessly yearning for a different life, she is, by her sinful discontent, casting from her the blessings which a kind Providence has already granted.

Others become so occupied with their household cares that they forget the little courtesies which make life pleasant to their husbands and children. While their time and energies are absorbed in the preparation of something to eat or to wear, their husbands and sons come in and go out as strangers. And very many, finding nothing attractive at home, perhaps being greeted with continual scolding and murmuring, seek comfort and amusement in the dram-shop, or in other forbidden places.

The true wife and mother will pursue an entirely different course. She will perform her duties with dignity and cheerfulness, not considering it degrading to do with her own hands whatever it is necessary to do in a well-ordered household.

In order to be a good wife, it is not necessary that woman's nature should be utterly merged in that of her husband. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, an experience differing essentially from theirs. It is not the design of our Creator that our individuality should be lost in another's; he would have us possess our own characters, softened and sanctified by his sweet grace. He would hear our words fresh from our own hearts. He would have our yearning desires and earnest cries ascend to him marked by our own individuality. All do not have the same exercises of mind, and God calls for no second-hand experience. Our compassionate Redeemer reaches his helping hand to us just where we are.

If woman looks to God for strength and comfort, and in his fear seeks to perform her daily duties, she will win the respect and confidence of her husband, and see her children coming to maturity honorable men and women, having moral stamina to do right. But mothers who neglect present opportunities, and let their duties and burdens fall upon others, will find that their responsibility remains the same, and they will reap in bitterness what they have sown in carelessness and neglect. There is no chance work in this life; the harvest will be determined by the character of the seed sown.

Many who do well under favorable circumstances seem to undergo a transformation of character when trials and adversity come; they deteriorate in proportion to their troubles. God never designed that we should thus be the sport of circumstances. We are not responsible for circumstances over which we have no control, and it is useless to deny that these often affect our life-work; but we sin when we permit circumstances to subvert principle, when we are unfaithful to our high trust, and neglect known duty.

The first and most urgent duty which the mother owes to her Creator is to train for him the children that he has given her. Infant children are a mirror for the mother in which she may see reflected her own habits and deportment. How careful, then, should be her language and behavior in the presence of these little learners. Whatever traits of character she wishes to see developed in them, she must cultivate in herself.

When the mother has gained the confidence of her children, and taught them to love and obey her, she has given them the first lesson in the Christian life. They must love and trust and obey their Saviour, as they love and trust and obey their parents. The love which in faithful care and right training the parent manifests for the child, faintly mirrors the love of Jesus for his faithful people.

Mothers, awake to the fact that your influence and example are affecting the character and destiny of your children; and in view of your responsibility, develop a well-balanced mind, and a pure character, reflecting only the true, the good, and the beautiful. Your compassionate Redeemer is watching you with love and sympathy, ready to hear your prayers, and to render you the assistance which you need. He knows the burdens of every mother's heart, and is her best friend in every emergency. His everlasting arms support the God-fearing, faithful mother. When upon earth, he had a mother that struggled with poverty, having many anxious cares and perplexities, and he sympathizes with every Christian mother in her cares and anxieties. That Saviour who took a long journey for the purpose of relieving the anxious heart of a woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit, will hear the mother's prayers, and will bless her children.

He who gave back to the widow her only son as he was carried to the burial, is touched today by the woe of the bereaved mother. He who wept tears of sympathy at the grave of Lazarus, and gave back to Martha and Mary their buried brother; who pardoned Mary Magdalene; who remembered his mother when he was hanging in agony upon the cross; who appeared to the weeping women, and made them his messengers to spread the first glad tidings of a risen Saviour,—he is woman's best friend today, and is ready to aid her in all the relations of life.

Our Saviour, who understands our heart-struggles, and knows the weakness of our natures, pities our infirmities, forgives our errors, and bestows upon us the graces which we earnestly desire. Joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, and charity are the elements of the Christian character. These precious graces are the fruit of the Spirit, and the Christian's crown and shield. Where these graces reign in the home, the sons are “as plants grown up in their youth,” and the daughters “as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace.” These heavenly attainments are not dependent upon circumstances, nor the will or imperfect judgment of man. Nothing can give more perfect contentment and satisfaction than the cultivation of a Christian character; the most exalted aspirations can aim at nothing higher.

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