Real life. Real marriage. Real parenthood.
Real joy. Real struggle.
And the very real Jesus who leads me through it all.
Real joy. Real struggle.
And the very real Jesus who leads me through it all.
I feel like a hamster that's been running in circles around a wheel for the last several hours. To be honest I feel like this quite frequently from 7AM-8PM, but today just seems a tad more.
Like every. single. morning I hit snooze when I shouldn't have, thus having 10 fewer minutes to get myself organized. Then it was pajama day at school. You might not want to get me started on pajama day, lest you get an earful. But let me just say, it was 20 degrees this morning and pajama pants are the LEAST sensible thing a child could have worn on her legs this morning.
My suggestion of snowpants brought on a whole lot of drama about how, "Mom, no one wears snowpants when there's no snow on the ground!"
A sentiment that I totally sympathize with, actually, but again, children should be wearing denim on their legs today, not pajama pants.
Then we couldn't find the tennis shoes because they were out in the sandbox, full of sand and mud and frozen solid. Scrape off the mud, shake out the sand, throw them in the dryer to thaw. Miss the bus. Wake up the toddler to haul my kids to school. Change poopy diaper first. Carseat buckles (AGGGGHHHH...if you read my blog, you might know my dislike of carseats).
Get to school on time, believe it or not.
Come back home. Get the next child ready for preschool. Feed the toddler breakfast. Feed myself finally. Barely time for coffee. Leave the house with the kitchen and the living room completely torn apart.
That was all several hours ago but the chaos continues. So does yours, so there's no point in venting about mine.
But, it all makes me think about the Proverbs 31 woman. Does she ever feel like she's running in circles?
On the page of Scripture, she looks so organized and calm. Does she ever hit snooze?
If you're not familiar with this woman, there's a beautiful passage in the Bible, in the book of Proverbs, that gives us women a map, persay, for guidance about what a Godly woman looks like. How she spends her time, how she takes care of others, where her devotion lies, etc.
It's beautiful. It's inspiring. It's challenging.
But I think sometimes we wonder, is it realistic? Because I don't feel like this woman. Does that mean I'm failing?
As a fun little exercise, allow me to run through a few ways in which I'm not exactly measuring up today:
Verse 13: She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
Okay, I have tried to like sewing as a way to honor my mom, but truthfully, I've given up. I don't like sewing at all. I never remember how to even load a bobbin or thread a needle.
Verse 14: She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
There is currently no fruit in my house, and I refuse to haul all my kids to the grocery store.
Verse 15: She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family...
Um....the snooze button....
Verse 17: She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
Well, my sink is overflowing with dirty dishes and my laundry room has two huge baskets that need folding, but I'm ignoring it all and writing this blog. I did workout hard this morning...but that might not be the kind of "strong arms" this is referring to though...
Verse 22: She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Actually, I'm clothed in sweatpants that have peanut butter smeared on them from toddler hands, and I haven't showered since my workout, so I'm rather stinky.
Verse 25: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
I worry too often about the days to come.
Verse 26: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
I speak far too often without thinking first, and I yell at my kids.
Verse 27: She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Does blogging count as idleness?
I know you have your own list of how you feel like you're coming up short today too. It's challenging.
And I think it's rightly challenging. Scripture does for certain challenge us and stretch us and change us.
And that's good and right.
But I think we also ought to read this with grace.
Now, although I'm a student and teacher of the Bible, I'm not a scholar or expert. And I've actually not read commentaries on this passage or studied the original Hebrew text or anything like that. So I could be mistaken.
But as I live the reality of following Christ, staying home with four children, maintaining a marriage, trying to run a household, scraping by every month just getting our bills paid, my humble reality tells me that this text should speak GRACE to me. (I mean really, the whole of Scripture is God's grace to us. His saving love for us because we always fall short.)
We can easily spend too much energy comparing ourselves to this woman, or giving up on becoming this woman all-together, and not enough energy loving this woman.
She's pretty stellar. I want to have coffee with her.
She loves like Jesus. She is a power-house woman who makes things happen. She apparently loves fashion. She has a heart for the poor and broken. She is funny and loves to laugh. She has things to say that I need to hear and learn from. She loves her husband. She's a woman to aspire to, not resent.
And nothing in this passage tells us that this woman succeeded at all of these things every single day. And she didn't become this woman overnight. She didn't buy fields and sew entire wardrobes in the same day.
When she was young and newly married and home with toddlers, she may have felt frenzied too.
But the over-arching theme of her life was what mattered.
She poured herself out for others, loving them, serving them, taking care of their needs, teaching them. She had her husband's back every day.
The first verse of the passage (Proverbs 31:10) gives us the main point - it's about her noble character.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."
Other versions say a virtuous woman.
Virtue. Nobility. Character.
It's not about a checklist.
(By the way, I know alot of Proverbs 31 women who aren't married...women who live their lives for the sake of Jesus and the love of others...it's not just for married women...)
It's not about checking every single item off the list, all in a day's work, to see if you measured up or not.
It's about your heart.
Today, is your heart set on the things of Christ? Things that are noble and virtuous? If so, your deeds will follow your heart. And though you don't have the time or energy to mark off every single item from the list, at days end, you can rest your head on your pillow knowing that your day counted. Your day was an offering to God in your service to your family. Setting our hearts on the things of Christ causes our days to be productive and fruitful, whether or not we feel like we measure up.
And in that, in the life offered to Christ, there is tremendous value.
From ancient times, rubies have been the most valuable gem on planet earth. I love that God chose the ruby for verse 10 - the woman who sets her heart on the nobility of serving Christ is of greater value than the most valuable gem on planet earth.
And just like a gem radiates the light that shines upon it, the woman who sets her heart on the love of Christ radiates His light into a dark and hurting world.
And that, my friends, makes our days worth noting. That reality, of God's love shining through us, cannot be marked off a list as a task finished. And it cannot be measured.
And it cannot be compared one woman to the next woman.
So, I think yes.
I think there are days during which the Proverbs 31 woman feels like she is running around in circles chasing her tail. And I think there are days or weeks that she feels like she has failed.
But that's only when she's comparing herself to a checklist.
Or she's comparing herself to her perception of every other woman.
But instead let's live our days set on the noble calling of loving others like Jesus.
Not a checklist but a heart that breaks for the things of God.
Not a checklist, but a woman's whose coffee pot is on and whose heart is open.
Not a checklist but a woman who has a vision and isn't scared to ask others to help her make it happen.
Not a checklist but a mouth that speaks life into others.
And then, even if we are running in circles from time to time, it won't be in vain.
It'll be for the praise of God.