I am very much a homebody. You wouldn’t know it, though, if you knew me. I did work outside the home, as they say, from age 23 to my early retirement at 59. And I was career-oriented, with all the usual drive to succeed that most people recognize. I had gotten a good education, and I wanted to put that education to good use.
There were early signs in my career that I preferred the four walls of home. On one of my early jobs, I spent the time from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.in managing a junior high school library. I was just 30 then. Although I was single and lived alone, I preferred the loneliness of my apartment in the evenings to going instead to women’s clubs or civic programs. Church was only on Sunday mornings in my city, and so there was no evening outlet there. Once I got home from a busy day, I wanted to cocoon. And so I did.
Later on, I married my husband Paul and moved far away to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Now my favorite time of day was spent sharing our sofa—he, on one end, grading papers, and I, on the other end, reading inspirational literature and Scripture.
Now, through all this time, I did venture out some evenings, just because I thought it was better to try to be an extrovert. And I had some good times, but I always retreated home.
Now, in retirement, Paul and I are just now adjusting to a new, smaller house, all on one level, in anticipation of growing old together here. We spend hours in our house, hour upon hour in our study. He spends time working on the computer, at a desk, pursuing his hobby of art—his avocation after a long working life. I sit in an easy chair a scant four feet away, laptop open, writing. We are at peace.
What does this say about the religious life? Most of us on a spiritual pathway find a way to contribute. My husband contributes to the cultural life of our state—Mississippi—by giving away good art to the state art museum. I contribute by inspirational writing, for you and others.
We—my husband and I—derive strength from the quiet setting of our home. Neither of us was ever meant to be happiest out in the great wide world. Our way is quieter, for we are both introverts who have found in retirement a way to be in the world but not of the world. This great wide world takes all kinds of people.
From my older years, now, I encourage you to listen to your heart in regard to how you spend your days. Reach out to others, sometimes. Make a contribution, nearly always. But don’t get lost in being someone you are not.
I need my home to thrive. I have always been this way. And now I no longer fight myself trying to be more extroverted than I feel.
God takes us where we are and uses all of us in His own way.