All the Days of Her Life

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
~Proverbs 31:12

This is not just a Hallmark card for Mother’s Day, where Lemuel signs his name beneath a few lines about how his wife is a good one, and yada yada. Cards like that always extol the mother as amazingly kind, endlessly patient, infinitely loving, and remarkably sacrificial because that’s just what you’re supposed to say on Mother’s Day. Whether it’s really true, whether the family really feels that way about the mom, and whether anyone else would agree with these superlatives really doesn’t matter because it’s Mother’s Day. It’s what you do.

Well, this is not that card, and this is not that family. This woman’s character is so solid that her children rise and call her blessed (apparently without prompting?), and her husband sincerely treasures and honors her above all other women — not just one day a year when teachers remind kids, kids remind dads, and dads grab whatever leftover card they can find at Kroger on the way home! It’s sincere appreciation for a sincere woman who works with a selfless heart, consistently and deliberately.

Consistently and deliberately. You have to WORK at this, ladies! You have to continually ask Jesus to help you die to your fleshly desires. You have to seek out ways to do good and not evil. And you have to constantly be on the lookout for those little evils — things that you really wouldn’t call evil, because they’re just so little, and because evil is really such a strong word, but honestly those things aren’t doing any good. So, they’re evil if they’re not good.

Good = Benefit

She benefits him all the days of her life. ALL the days of her life. Interesting. Even before she marries him! I lived 23 years of my life before I had a husband. When I was just 18, I highlighted that phrase, “all the days of her life,” in my Bible and wrote next to it: “I am to honor my precious husband now.” I wasn’t married. I wasn’t even dating my husband-to-be; we hadn’t met. But I knew that in a way, I owed something to him, to the man who would someday become one flesh with me. (Of course, I failed miserably at my limited definition of what honoring my husband meant! Oh, how thankful I am for grace!)

I look at this verse now with slightly older eyes, and with a completely different perspective. Then, I was working full-time in a cubicle and getting ready to get my own place and start college courses. I was in the single’s ministry at church. I really wanted a boyfriend. (Like, really.) Now, I have my prince. I had no idea then that I’d meet him at 19! I now have over ten years’ experience learning to love him like Christ calls me to, which is infinitely more than what comes easily to one who is in love (grace upon grace — I am still just fair to middling in this area, but I am learning). I have lived in several different cities in two states, I have had five different jobs, and now I’m a homemaker and mother to the coolest baby on earth. Now I see my marriage, my motherhood, and my home as my ministry and my biggest calling. Now I am opening my eyes to how the Lord is showing me what is good and what is evil, and sometimes the differences are very subtle. Often, Biblical womanhood, wifery, and motherhood are completely belittled by our culture. (Time to re-evaluate who you’re listening to and following on social media. That’s just extra, free advice.)

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Wow.

This beautiful verse rounds out the introduction of this treatise on an excellent woman. The two previous verses speak of how rare and trustworthy she is, while this one praises her consistent, selfless good works, but thankfully the tribute doesn’t end there! These three verses clearly lay out for the reader exactly how amazing this Jewel is, and then the remainder of the passage will give specific examples showing how she lives it out. I can’t wait!

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, oh she is so very rare. Do not settle for less, though. You will know she is the right type of woman if she is seeking to do everyone good instead of evil. You see, young love is beautiful and fun and carefree, and sometimes deceptive. She may adore you and dote on you now, but how does she treat her little sister? How does she act when her boss isn’t looking? You see, all that fire and excitement will change over the years; it always does. You’ll become common, in a way. And honestly, sometimes we women are guilty of treating our men worse than anyone else because we become so comfortable in the common, and we too easily take the common blessings for granted. If she is not that rare kind of woman, she will not fight this inevitable drift in her sinful heart; she will defend it. She will blame you. She will list out her merits and say that you just don’t appreciate her, and she will get a whole gaggle of stiff-necked women to agree with her. That’s our culture. It has built itself around the sinful desires of the human heart, planted a flag, and is now handing out chocolates. That rare jewel will ask what they’re selling before eating the chocolate, and then she’ll go home and check her Bible. She seeks to do good and not evil, she is other-centered, and she is worth waiting for.

My Love, I am completely NOT the woman I just described to Bennett! I know it! But because I desire to become her, I believe the Lord is helping me to change. Little by little, I am truly learning how to think of myself less. When I think about how much time I have wasted in my life seeking my own happiness to the exclusion of yours, I am ashamed. Knowing I so easily default to this way of thinking without even realizing it, I am overwhelmed. But knowing that I am married to a gracious, godly husband who is leading me into deeper relationship with our Lord, I am encouraged! Jesus isn’t through with me yet!

My Lord, You are so good. As I have been meditating on Your sacrifice this Holy Week, I have been inspired and astounded by what You — the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the One to whom every knee will bow — desire. It’s so blessedly simple, sacrificial, and selfless. How is it that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom? How could You want so badly to save me that You would lay down Your life for me?  I have been so blessed by John Piper’s Holy Week devotional:

Remember, when you think of Jesus’s resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this, and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion, was not easy. It was hard.

We need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don’t know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Teach me to love like that. 

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)
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First Parents’ Days

If you didn’t know, I’m P R E G N A N T ! (Where have you been?) Thirty weeks and two days, and expecting to look into the eyes of a–very wiggly–baby boy sometime in August!

My husband and I just celebrated our first parents’ days. I got some very sweet and encouraging cards from my parents and in-laws, and I got surprise donuts in bed from my husband for my first Mother’s Day! For my husband’s first Father’s Day, I made him an emergency diaper changing kit, complete with a turkey baster for rinsing, a nose plug, and a bio-hazard disposal bag. He was totally surprised, and I think he loved it.

Here’s the point: We’re already parents; we’re not expecting to be parents sometime in the future.

A lot of people refer to us as a mother-to-be and a father-to-be. I just don’t think that’s very accurate. What makes a mom or dad? A child. Do we have a child? Yes! He’s roughly 3½ pounds, and he’s awfully cute! (I can feel his cuteness. A mother just knows.) Oh, and boy does he eat a lot. Yep–we’re parents!

I know, I know… life changes a lot when the baby is actually born and waking you up in the night, yada yada. It also changes when he starts crawling, when he starts walking, and talking, and going to school, and driving, and dating, and… Would anyone say you had to wait for one of those points in the child’s development before you were a “real” parent? Of course not! Why then does birth constitute a milestone your child must complete before he has parents? It doesn’t make sense to me at all; my son is not an orphan.

It reminds me of something a dear, sweet friend said a long time ago. She was talking about how some very well-meaning people said some hurtful things to her after the death of her sweet baby boy in utero. They were trying to be comforting, but it was the opposite. I’ll try my best to paraphrase what I remember:

Many people said to me, in an effort to comfort me, that I’d be a good mom someday. It wasn’t comforting; it was hurtful. Does that mean I was a bad mom to this baby? That I did something wrong and God took him from me because of it?  

Ouch.

No, those people for some reason just associate being a parent with having a child who is living outside your uterus. I really don’t understand why at all, because weren’t your thoughts already consumed with hopes, dreams, prayers, and worries for your child, from the moment you realized he existed? Weren’t you already conscious of what you fed him (via your diet) and what you exposed him to (via your environment)? Weren’t you already making sure you got plenty of rest so you could be at your best for him? Sounds like a Momma to me, and a really good one. And you were still a Momma after Jesus carried that little baby Home much sooner than any of us expected.

Hey, all you Mommas and Daddies out there, you became a mom and a dad the moment that one little sperm won the race. That, my dears, is a BABY with a MOMMY and a DADDY. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.