Fake food was one of my favorite toys as a child. A closet in our family attic became my imaginary kitchen. I created my very own pretend family of dolls, stuffed animals, and, of course, my make-believe husband. I spent hours daily pretending to be a wife and mother, bustling about my kitchen and preparing meals for my family. Playing house wasn’t just a fun game for me; it was my dream.

Several months ago, my dream turned into my reality when I married the man God clearly had picked out for me. Getting married did not happen without some bumps, bruises, and heartaches along the way. After college, I worked for over five years, feeling trapped, unfulfilled, and constantly longing for something more. What made it worse was that I longed to be a wife and eventually a mother. How could I, as a single woman, fulfill that desire? I knew it was never going to be something I could force: it would have to be by God’s power and in His time.

A dream come true

Thankfully as it turns out, by God’s power and in His time, I did marry. During our engagement my fiancé, Chuck, informed me that once we were married I wouldn’t have to work anymore. I remember standing in the kitchen in complete shock after he shared this with me. I wanted to jump up and down and yell praises to God. Instead, I stood frozen and quietly uttered, “Really?” It was indeed true. Two weeks before our wedding, I quit my job. For the first time since graduating college, I felt I was finally about to do what God had created me to do: be a stay-at-home wife.

The testing

For the first couple of weeks after our wedding, life was blissful. After our honeymoon, we settled into our new apartment, and it was time for Chuck to begin a new job. I got up early with him, made him a special breakfast, packed his lunch complete with a love note, and sent him on his way. It was the first time I had been alone in our apartment as a stay-at-home wife, and I couldn’t have been happier.

I set to work unpacking boxes, organizing our wedding gifts, writing thank-you notes, and other fun jobs I found much fulfillment in. No longer did I have a career hanging over my head. I was free from the burden of having to go back to work. There were no time constraints as I began to settle my new husband and me into our brand new home. I woke up every morning feeling free—full of joy and thankful to God for the wonderful gift of being a stay-at-home wife.

After Chuck’s first day of work, he arrived home bearing news. He would not be returning to his new job the next day, or most likely for the rest of the week. He needed a security clearance, which meant he couldn’t set foot in the building until after a thorough background check. My first reaction was to jump for joy. Our honeymoon was extended! I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than extra time with my new husband.

As days turned to weeks, the joy began to wear away, as neither Chuck nor I was bringing in a steady income. After using our wedding—gift money to pay bills and our tax return to pay the rent, we were feeling quite overwhelmed. Thankfully, Chuck was finally approved for his clearance, but he still wouldn’t receive a paycheck for two more weeks. Because of those five unexpected weeks of little income, our financial plan was thrown out the window. We continued to feel five weeks behind at all times.

Thus began our debates. Should I go back to work? If so, where should I work? What job should I do? I had tasted a bite of my dream job by staying at home, and I couldn’t fathom what else I should do. Sure, I could work for minimum wage somewhere, but I had just gotten out of a job like that. The more we struggled financially, the stronger the pressure was for me to get a job. I hated the thought of going back to work.

Together Chuck and I cried out to God. We asked God for wisdom. We prayed for a job for me if that’s how God wanted to provide for us financially. Then we shared this prayer request at our church. People began to ask me questions like, “If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?” Though they asked with good intentions, few seemed to understand that staying at home was the job that I would do if I could have any job in the world. I began to feel the pressure to figure out how God had gifted me and to find a job that fit. I felt lost. It was the same feeling I had felt when I graduated college and had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life.

A different drumbeat

I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C., a city full to the brim and overflowing with affluent women, career women, women owning companies, women working in politics, women with extended educations, women with degrees and jobs I had never even heard of. Walk into almost any grocery store, mall, or shopping center in this area and you will find the vast majority of women dressed up in heels and suits, with professional bags slung over their shoulders. I am the minority.

Meeting new people became awkward. When introduced, people would often ask, “So what do you do?” To which I would reply, “I’m a stay-at-home wife.” The look on their faces seemed to tell it all: shock, disbelief, and sometimes a touch of disappointment. After all, I was a young woman in the 21st century! Society expects me to take advantage of women’s rights, dig my heels into a career, and make something of myself. But a wife? Come on. Isn’t there supposed to be more to life?

Being who God made me to be

It all came crashing down one distinct night. I had spent the evening with some friends who continued to press me toward finding a job I would enjoy. They suggested books, mentioned job ideas, and asked questions as the pressure grew and grew. After weeks of agonizing over what to do, after days of babysitting to earn some income, after countless conversations with my husband, after hours of praying, I felt like a balloon filled with way too much air and about to explode.

When I returned home that night, I began making Chuck his lunch while we chatted. All of a sudden I just couldn’t take it anymore. In the midst of sharing about the night I had spent with friends, I became angry—so angry that I threw the sandwich bread onto the counter and began to rant. Through droves of tears I finally exploded.

I began to pour out my heart to Chuck and explain all the hurt I had felt over people expecting me to find a career. I rehashed all the hurtful comments I had heard from people trying to help me figure out who I am. I shared about the pressure I bore in thinking there must be something out there I was meant to do. As Chuck listened and I cried, I began to feel the pressure subsiding, like a slow leak from the balloon.

What was God’s truth? “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. . . . For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:1, 13, 14, NIV).

In that moment, in our tiny apartment kitchen, I was reminded anew of who I am. God created my inmost being! I was wonderfully created by the God of the universe! I knew who God had created me to be. I had known since I was a child playing house with my fake food. God created me to be a wife to Chuck and to stay at home.

It was then that my husband pulled me into his arms and held me. And in that moment he said the words that I will never forget: “Babe, you’re not getting a job.” A wave of relief seemed to wash over my whole body, and all the air in the balloon finally released.

God has given me a desire to be a stay-at-home wife. Since Chuck and I made this decision, God has taken care of our every need. Sure, times have been tough. Some months have continued to be a real stretch financially, but God always provides. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27, NIV). We truly believe that because we have chosen to follow God’s leading, He will continue to bless that decision. Some day God may provide for us financially through my getting a job, and in that case, I hope to obey.

Until God says otherwise, I choose to be who God created me to be. My fake food is now real. My imaginary husband is now a bona fide man. That attic closet is now an authentic kitchen. Maybe someday those stuffed animals and dolls will be our own children. My childhood game is now my daily life. I am a living, breathing, happier-than-I-have-ever-been stay-at-home wife!

Abigail Dubbe graduated from Baptist Bible College with a degree in communications/writing. She lives in Reston, Va.