Who is this Proverbs 31 Woman Anyway??

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“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.” –Proverbs 31:10,11-The Message

Over the years I have spent an inordinate amount of time pondering the words found in the 31st Proverb.  There is a lot of pressure in these words for women who strive to be their best, whether it is in the role of wife, or mother, or both.  I don’t believe  the intention of this Proverb was to create pressure, but I have a tendency to obsess about all kinds of things, and this is one of them.

A lifetime ago,  I was  a busy young mother of twins, running a household which included a cat, a dog, and at that time, a hamster named Isabella.  I found it very difficult to carve out time to even read Proverbs 31, never mind ponder its deeper meaning, so when I stumbled upon the above caricature in a magazine, I felt I could really relate to it.  I wish I could remember which magazine article I cut it out of so I could give the artist proper credit, but unfortunately, I don’t.  I was so deeply moved by the fact that I actually felt like the woman in the caricature, so I  framed it , and it has been sitting on a desktop, or kitchen counter of my house for the last 17 years, reminding me that it is ok to feel frazzled and not quite in control of all situations.

It is laughable now, when I realize how I fretted about little things when my children were little and their problems and battles were  little also.  I had no idea really, about the things that were in store for me when the teenage and young adult years were to come along.  In His wisdom, God has shielded us from knowing what is to come in our future, because it is true that we could not bear it if we knew.

As Mothers’ Day approaches this week-end, I find myself reminiscing about the years gone by, wondering how I could have done things differently, to spare my children and myself some of the pain and heartache we have gone through over the last couple of years.  My husband and I had very set ideas of how to raise our kids, and we were very strict in many ways.  We wanted to give them very clear guidelines to live in what we knew to be a very black and white world.  We also wanted them to think for themselves, and to ask questions when they were unsure of the answers; confident that they would find their way in life.  I did not realize that the answers to the questions they asked would be quite grey, not black or white, and I suppose this is where the conflicts began.  I often joked, as my children  grew into young adults, that we taught them to ask questions but I wish they came up with different answers.  This, when I discovered some of the choices they made; when their choices were different from the ones I would have had them make.  I also joked, that I miss the control I thought I had.

However, now that my kids are young adults and the dialogue between us is at a level that is somewhat open and honest, I am happy to say that they have both taught me a lot about acceptance and responsibility.  They are not content to follow the rules of society and the norm if it hurts someone in the process; they are ready to speak out when they feel something is wrong.  I wish I had been this brave at their age.  I love my children fiercely and I am very proud of who they have become.  I am proud of their non-conformism.   I would not change them for the world, and I am grateful for all they have taught me.  I would not be who I am today if it were not for lessons learned from the both of them.

I have grieved my rigidness and my mistakes in parenting, but of course, there is nothing that can be done about the past; we can only move forward:  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43:18,19

I can keep striving towards the rest of the Proverb:  “Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.  The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.” -v.30 – The Message

The bottom line is that I cannot do this on my own, and I have wasted too much time in trying.  God is my Helper and my Comfort.  I need only to breathe.  The rest, as they say is up to Him.

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” –Isaiah 41:13

Tomorrow Isn’t Promised. Enjoy Today.

image“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink , and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God.”–Ecclesiastes 3:12

It was one of the first warm days of our spring, and here I was , with my arms wrapped around my husband’s waist, perched on the back of his motorcycle, winding along the shores of Lake Minnetonka, with the warm breeze shining on my cheeks, or so I imagined.  I couldn’t really feel the breeze on my face because I had the visor down on my motorcycle helmet . I hadn’t yet  gotten enough nerve to let go with one of my arms in order to  peel the visor back , because I was that terrified.  As I started to realize how glad my husband was to simply have me along for the ride,  I started to relax, and finally enjoy myself.

Years ago, when we were first dating, my husband rode a motorcycle, and I thought that was very daring of him, and yes, I admit it, part of my initial attraction to him.  I used to ride with him on the back of his bike too,  and I don’t remember being afraid.  Youthful innocence, maybe?  When we became engaged, he sold his motorcycle.  I am always quick to point out that it was his decision to sell it , not mine, and that I had nothing to do with it.   In  hindsight, I realize that I had everything to do with it.  What a sacrifice this was for him to make; we were young and didn’t have a lot of money, so he sold his beloved motorcycle in order for us to have a little extra as we began our new life together.

In our household, over the last few years, we have been battling illness; or rather, my husband has been battling illness, so we have been there, battling right beside him.  When things seemed at their worst as far as his health went, I remember reading this verse out of the Psalms to him (147:3) and the promise in it brought us both to tears:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

After recovering from his illness, and other life’s circumstances that exhausted him in many ways, my husband decided he wanted to embrace life and begin enjoying it again.   Who could blame him?  Certainly not me.  Of course, he decided to buy a motorcycle, and quite frankly, I wish he hadn’t had to wait more than 25 years to start riding again.  I only had one stipulation.  I wouldn’t ever get on the back of that thing with him.  I had become comfortable in my uneventfulness; I was content to Iive in fear of all things related to motorcycles, and I adamantly refused to ride with him.

My husband has enjoyed his motorcycle for two summers now, and whenever the nice weather came, he took his bike out for a spin, and when he came home, he  very gently lamented  that  his only regret was enjoying something so much, and not being able to share it with me.

Of course, this couldn’t go on forever.  Finally, I relented.   I mustered up the courage and I went for a ride with him just a couple of days ago.    We only went for a drive around the lake, and stopped for a cup of coffee.    At some point during our cruise, I realized, it was okay to experience rough times that might cause some fear and anxiety; after all, it’s during these desert times  that God speaks softly to us.  However, it was time for me to let go of my fear and embrace more of what life has to offer.  Later that day, I read my husband’s Facebook status, and this is what he posted:

“Life is short and tomorrow is not promised.  Find something you like to  do and do it today.”

This was a good lesson for me.  I’m going to start enjoying more todays.