Virtuosity Revisited

gemscopy.gifI must have read Proverbs 31 about twenty times since I mentioned it the other day.  I promised to write something more about it, and I was sure at the time that I had plenty of insights to share, but the truth is, I’m stuck.  To do it justice I would need to blog about one or two verses at a time, since there is not a single aspect of this virtuous wife that I can look at and think, “Well, I’ve got that one under control.”  Every single verse contains something I need to work on.  If these verses were my to-do list, it would not have a single check on it.  Oh, dear.

But then it occurred to me: this is what the Christian walk is all about. I read God’s Word. I become aware that He is Holy God with standards so impossibly high that I could never reach them. Ever. And then, if my heart is where it ought to be, I remember that this Holy God loves me anyway.  That He knows I can never reach His standard, but that there was One who did.  And that His death and resurrection meant that I am forever freed from the judgement I deserve for *not* being who God says I ought to be.

Then, as I glance back at the same words that once condemned me, I remember this:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

So, here’s what I can do through Christ who strengthens me for all the good works He has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10).  I can be the kind of wife who will bring happiness and security to my husband, never being a burden to him, but always lightening his load (verses 11-12).  I can help him to be all that God wants Him to be (verse 23).  I can look after all the affairs of our home (27a), feeding all the hungry little mouths here (15), and then looking to see who else might be hungry around me (20). With my spare time (27b), I can look to see how I might bless my home financially, either by stretching the pennies that my husband works so hard to bring home, or by thinking how I might bring in some more pennies (16, 19, 24) without compromising my purpose as a wife and mother.  And above all these things, I can remember that my beauty comes not from any of the physical things I might sometimes concern myself with, but from a heart that fears the Lord (30).

It is a tall order, to be sure, but it is not my order to fill.  It is only mine to submit to the God who will shape me into this woman.  I pray that I will have a willing heart, even if it does come to getting up at 6 AM every morning!

Who, Me? Virtuous?

rubiesfromburma.jpg I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the woman described in Proverbs 31.  In case you haven’t met her (or as a little refresher course for those who have), here’s what she’s like.

10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.

16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants. 25 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.

I love this passage because of the hope it provides, hope that there is a right way to do this whole wife/mother thing and that the end result is totally worth the effort. I chose my eBay seller ID to reflect my desire to be this kind of wife. I even considered naming this blog something to do with rubies, but then I thought, “Who am I kidding?”  This woman is not me, and while it’s nice to think that there is a concrete goal in sight, it’s a pretty tall order!

I think I was about five years married and was pregnant with my second baby before I ever really studied this chapter, and it’s been haunting me and prodding me ever since. A dear (American) friend in Scotland introduced me to this blog, which had recently done a series called “The 5AM Club” (you’re dying to know where to sign up, right?) based on the principle in verse 15. I know it is only a matter of time until I commit to getting up before my family, at least a few days a week, because the Lord keeps bringing it up over and over again, and I’m starting to get the hint. I tried it again a few weeks ago (lasted two whole days!) and definitely noticed God using it to bless my family, but just couldn’t stick it. I know I’ll get back on the horse sooner or later, but for now we’re still working through some glitches with the whole three babies in one room thing, and I think my girls are blessed by a Mommy who catches a few extra Z’s in the morning.

Anyway, last night at my marriage Bible study, we looked at this passage.  (I know!  The whole thing!)  Well, let’s just say, I haven’t arrived yet.  Apart from not being quite convinced yet on the “rising while it is still night” thing, I could probably tell you about at least ten more areas of this passage in which I’m still completely hopeless growing, but for tonight, I’ll have to leave you wanting more.  This post and this evening have rather gotten away from me, and I would certainly not be a good Proverbs 31 wife if I left my husband waiting on the sofa for me to join him so that we can watch Lost, now would I?  Watch this space, I’ll be back with more thoughts on this passage soon.  For now, just read the verses, and let me know what the Lord lays on your heart.

His Favorite and His Best

The word “favorite” gets thrown around pretty freely in our house.   First and foremost, “You’re my favorite,” is probably my favorite (see? there it is again) thing that Trevor says to me.  I think I like it even more than “I love you.”

Since this has always been something that we’ve said to each other, we found it tricky not to say it to Pippa after she was born, whenever she would do something particularly endearing (which is *all* the time).  Now that there are three precious and irresistible little girls in our life… well, you can see where this is going. We say it to all of them! (You can only imagine the looks we get from people who only hear us saying it to one of them. Apparently, this is *not* something you’re supposed to say to children?)  But we *mean* it! Any parent of more than one child knows this bizarre, paradoxical sort of love. You think with each one’s impending arrival that you will never possibly be able to love the new one as much as the others, but the love is always there, and each child really and truly is “the favorite”.

But I digress.  The reason I have been thinking about favorites is this fantastic new book  that I’ve started going through with some other married ladies at church.

412oyajubrl_aa240_.jpgI have only worked through the very first lesson of the very first chapter, and already I can tell this book and the accompanying study are going to hit hard. Try this question on for size: “Have I burdened my husband with being the source of my self esteem?” Yikes! If not the source, then certainly a source. I count myself incredibly blessed to be called his “favorite” most of the time, but what of the days when I’m not? (What of the days when I don’t deserve to be because I’m acting like a spoiled little girl?!?)

The bottom line is: my value does not (and should not) come from my husband’s high esteem, it comes from my Maker’s.  We, the human race, are God’s favorite.  We bear the unique distinction of being made in His image, and while He called all of His creation “good”, only mankind was pronounced “very good.”  Just wow!  When I relate this favoritism to my crazy love for our girls, and remember that the Bible is clear that a parent’s love for a child is only a glimpse of the Heavenly father’s love for His children, I am awestruck!  If the God who created the universe loves me that much, then why would I look to anyone else for my value?

(Note: The title of this post is shamelessly lifted from this adorable book the girls have out of the library right now.  We especially love when Daddy reads it: he does a pretty mean British accent!)