And So It Begins...
We've done it. We have started homeschooling at our house, and we're all still alive. Granted, we're not to the full blown stage where we've added everything in that we'll be doing this year, but I just keep repeating the mantra: "Baby steps, baby steps. "I have already learned one very important thing: This is going to take more patience than I have ever displayed before in my life. Oh, dear me. I have smart kids who catch on quickly. Not bragging. Just stating fact and claiming no responsibility for it. The Lord knows my utter weakness and saw that He had better give this poor basket case of a mom some kids with brains. Yet, they are still children, which means they have the inborn capacity to drive an adult nuts, or at least at adult like me, who came out of the womb a fuddy-duddy, unable to embrace and appreciate the little things in life. I think I must have been born with a to-do list in my hand. I'll have to ask my mom.
As my teacher husband heads off to his first day of school once again and I see that the relaxing, unstructured days of summer are drawing to a close, I am trying not to mourn and /or panic. How does this happen so quickly every single year? However, if we’re honest with ourselves, do we as women ever truly experience relaxing days? There might be days with less pressure because the schedule isn’t packed, homework isn’t due, and maybe you’re staying at a condo where someone else does the heavy cleaning, but as a wife and mother, there is not a day that goes by that we do not have to take care of my family’s needs and my responsibilities to some degree, at least.
We all know that being a woman who seeks to live up to the expectations of the world, ourselves, and even God can be an exhausting endeavor. In the world of mommy bloggers, we’ve certainly been told that comparing ourselves to Supermom down the road is a no-no and that our messy, chaotic house is something to be embraced rather than detonated with a bomb and blessedly obliterated forever. So why do we look into God’s Word and readily accept the fact that He is holding out the example of a nearly perfect woman who has it all together and saying, “Okay, ladies. Be her?” At least, I think that’s the way we often view the woman described at the end of Proverbs, the book dripping with wisdom.
If we persist in our belief that the Lord has penned our cosmic to-do list and written it down in His eternal word, we will likely be stifled by the weight of it. My to-do lists are endless and, while they sometimes provide a bit of relief from the swirling thoughts and lists in my head, they can also be a chain around my neck. A list of things I have yet to do that never ends. Sigh. The last thing I want or need is another list I cannot attain. If we are not careful, our belief that God is following us around with a giant checklist of impossibilities can breed bitterness and resentment toward our Heavenly Father and a desire to be free from His expectations and endless demands.
I challenge you with this thought: If we think Proverbs 31 is God holding out to us His ideal of a woman and demanding that we achieve it to please Him, we have misunderstood the character of God. And if we have misunderstood the character of God, we are walking in enemy territory. Satan lives to have us misunderstand God’s character and will capitalize on our lack of knowing God truly and intimately.
Rather than God’s description of the ideal woman, as if He were preparing to be a contestant on the Dating Game, perhaps this passage is a celebration of women and an encouragement to women. In other passages in Proverbs, women are portrayed in a less than stellar light. We can recall the warnings against the adulterous woman and the laments of a man stuck with a nagging wife. So maybe the Lord wants to set the record straight. Not all women are trouble. In fact, His beautiful creation, which He declared to be very good from the beginning, is something to be rejoiced in, valued, and deemed precious. He begins the passage, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Then He recounts all of the amazing things an excellent woman accomplishes throughout her life. Rather than seeing all of the things you are not doing (I simply cannot remember the last time I put my hand to the spindle or wore purple. It’s just not my color.), look at the parts of the passage where your Creator, the Lover of your Soul, is describing you.
The Lord created woman to do amazing and important things. He deemed us so precious and important that He gave us one of the most vital, God-reflecting jobs on earth: mothering (both physically and spiritually). He gave us the job of replicating the role of His Bride, the church, in our marriages. He gave us the role of nurturing and feeding and loving, all things that so directly reflect the glory and goodness of God. And so He celebrates His creation and the beautiful, hard, tiring things that we do, because it is in the fruit of our faith that we glorify Him.
Then the key to the whole passage lies in the summary. He leaves the truest, most important words ringing in our ears. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” He does not say, “I love the woman who has it all together and doesn’t disappoint me or fail me.” No. He rejoices over the woman who has the key to life figured out, the woman who fears, respects, loves, trusts and relies on Him. The point of it all is not perfection. The point is that, when a woman sees God as He really is, her life is something to be celebrated. When we walk in complete adoration of our loving Lord, knowing that He gives us all we need and loves us when we fail, we can laugh at the days to come. Our eternity, value, and identity are secure. The pressures of this life and expectations of this world cannot crush us. The guilt from the enemy cannot destroy us. Our failures do not define us.
The knowledge that our Creator made us for a purpose, values that purpose, and then empowers us to accomplish that purpose, all the while loving us without end, should give us the joy, peace, and confidence we need to embrace all life throws at us and to enjoy allowing Him to work in us and through us to restore us to the women He created us to be. You have far more value in the Lord’s eyes than anything else in the entire world. Rest in that fact. Let that truth wash over you. Then begin your day knowing that, no matter what the day holds, your value in the eyes of your Maker will not change. He is for you and celebrates you as you seek to know Him, and all the rest will be given to you by Him.
So as I add this new, exciting, scary, overwhelming (that may be the most used word on my blog) hat of school teacher to the teetering stack of hats on my head, I desperately seek to hold on to the fact that my identity and value are secure. God is for me. He has called me and will equip me, because that is who He is. I will seek to rest, enjoy, trust, and rejoice in the fact that He who created me and called me is faithful. My life is not defined by a list, though I did stay up until 1am creating a beautiful, comforting spread sheet for school work, but by my Creator.
With Him, we can do this thing….