We cannot separate real demonstrations of care from the gospel itself. When we care for people in imaginative, life-giving ways, we embody the love of Jesus. What could be a grander calling?
Andi Ashworth’s book Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring is a treasure for all those who spend many hours of their lives in unpaid caring work. This includes singles who work in 9 – 5 jobs all day and then give their evenings to church leadership, homemakers who spend their days caring for their families and communities, those who give full time care to elderly relatives, and many other types of people.
Ashworth encourages readers to view caregiving as “real work”. It is work that requires creativity, energy, and tenacity, and is an essential expression of the love of Christ to a hurting world. Ashworth notes that it is hard to value unpaid caregiving in a culture which prioritises efficiency, speed, control, and quantity over quality (p. 38).
“In this paradigm, caregiving seems very much out of place. Caring does not “maximise” our time. Its richest rewards are not tangible. The results are not quantitative. Caregiving needs are unpredictable, and sometimes meeting them is a slow process.”
Ashworth opens up for readers the many facets of a caregiving lifestyle. Topics include sacrificial and joyful hospitality, the necessity of rest and communion with God, and the importance of celebration. Real Love for Real Life also includes many stories of creative caregiving. As Andi says . . .
“We learn as we go that the creation of a home and the building of a family won’t happen magically. It will take our best thought and action” (p. 134).
My only concern about Real Love for Real Life is that Andi Ashworth presents the view that the Bible says nothing about whether husbands or wives should take on the greater part of homemaking responsibilities. This perspective will appeal to many. However, anyone who has recently read Paul’s epistles, particularly Titus and 1 Timothy, will know that this is not the case.
Women are particularly called to a life of unpaid caregiving. Men do perform many caring roles. However, God has given special directions to women regarding caring for home and children. All people are called to give care, yet some have specific instructions regarding their role. I’ll close with a final encouraging thought from the book. When you give care “you reflect the beauty of a God whose love knows no limit” (p. 18).
Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry . . . manage the house . . .
1 Timothy 5:14
. . . that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers . . .
Titus 2:4 – 5