Does it not bother you that your various and vast achievements in both the academic and spiritual realms are completely overshadowed by your domestication and motherhood?
Your website reports:
“Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker with Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 25 years. She serves as a Mentoring Mom for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers), and on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those wanting to leave homosexuality. She is also a professional calligrapher and the webservant for Probe Ministries; but most importantly, she is the wife of Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons.”
Does it not hurt to define your life through your involvement with others? Does this proliferation of the values dictated by our patriarchal society not cause you distress?
Wow, what great questions! I’m so glad you asked!
First of all, what does “domestication” mean? I’m thinking that to you, it may mean something negative and contemptuous. The root word comes from the Latin “domus,” home, which is exactly what is most important to me because home is about family (and not the structure in which we live). But it has taken on a negative connotation as if a woman’s true fulfillment is found outside the home, so anything that connects her to home and family is sadly restrictive. (Thank you Betty Friedan et al.. . .)
I have been blessed to be able to live a rich and varied life, but all of my “achievements” pale markedly compared to the sweetness of my most important relationships with my husband and sons. For example, my work as a speaker and writer and webservant for Probe Ministries, as wonderful as that is, can’t begin to hold a candle to the joy of loving and influencing the men God has given me to love and influence. I believe that God means for women to be most deeply fulfilled by our relationships, because He made us so relational. My “mark” on the world, I assure you, is far greater in my various relationships compared to the lectures I’ve given or the website I built. You might not ever be able to see the difference I make as Ray’s wife or Curt and Kevin’s mom, but believe me, as they all make their marks on the world, I can see it.
Doesn’t it hurt, you ask, to define my life through my involvement with others? In other words, to define my life through my relationships? I wish you could see the huge smile on my heart as I think about your question. . . because ultimately, I think we were created to define our lives exactly that way. What makes my life worth living is my strong and healthy relationship first of all with my Creator, from whom I find out what I was made for, what I was made to do, and thus find my fulfillment in walking out the sense of “I was made for this!!” My “achievements in the academic and spiritual realms” are only a small part of what God made me for, as His beloved daughter and friend. Since that is how I define myself–as a cherished child of God–then no matter what happens in any other dimension of my life, I do not fear being rocked by the loss of what defines me. Should I lose my family, God forbid, that will not change my identity. Should I lose my vision or my voice or my mobility or my mind, that will not change my identity, since my identity and my definition is not found in those things.
You also ask, “Does this proliferation of the values dictated by our patriarchal society not cause you distress?” Not at all, because I don’t see patriarchy as evil; I see it as a God-ordained chain of authority. Of course, it is complicated by the fact that every single human being on the planet is broken and sinful and infected by a rebellious spirit, but that doesn’t make patriarchy inherently wrong. I’m smiling again because I know that patriarchy is another one of those contempt-filled words in the academy (especially at the University of Texas! How many women’s studies profs have you studied under?). Yet from my understanding of scripture and of feminism, an authority structure that points to God as loving Father makes me feel secure, not subjugated, and beloved, not bitter.
I’m also aware that I may well come off to you as naïve and uneducated in The Ways Of The World, needing to be shown how truly sad and imprisoned by my misbeliefs I am. But that’s one of the joys of being over 50 and seeing how incredibly loving and kind and generous God has been to me, personally, in 30+ years of walking with Him and deriving my identity and direction from Him: I know too much about how good life is lived according to His values to be bothered by what feminist thought thinks of my life.
Here’s the thing, ______: when I am an old woman, at the end of my life, it really won’t matter what I have accomplished in the world’s eyes. What will matter is how much I loved and was loved, how much and how deeply I influenced and impacted people’s lives. That’s ultimately about relationships. My sister is a hospice nurse and she sees people dying every day. They never want to be surrounded by their diplomas or their trophies or their certificates of achievements, but by their family and friends. I think that says something profound about what ultimately matters.
Thank you so much for asking so I could share my heart with you.
© 2005 Probe Ministries