She Smiles at the Future

 

hayfield near bar u ranch

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

And she smiles at the future.

(Proverbs 31:25)

Can I be honest? For many years if I were to be asked who my least favourite Bible character was, it would have been that impossible “excellent wife” of Proverbs 31. She runs a perfect household, makes clothing for her family and half the town; she weaves her own bed linen, dabbles in real estate and farming and still has time to exercise and watch her husband collect accolades. It says she never let her lamp go out at night. Well, she’d have to stay up all night with a workload like that. At the time, when I was in a place where this scripture was used like a trudgeon by workaholic “ladies’ teachers” (the modern equivalent of Pinterest super-achievers) who said we could do it all if we were organized and disciplined enough, I was lucky if my kids’ socks matched and we could arrive anywhere within the same hour an event was scheduled to begin.

Finally one day, an older woman (with the teaching of kindness on her tongue) laughed at me when I went on a rant about the dreaded Proverbs 31 woman.

“She didn’t do it all in one day, dear! That was a life-time achievement award kind of speech. Relax. If God grants you health, life is not over when the kids go to college.”

Now that my children are grown I understand better. Those years with little ones and acting out teenagers seemed like they would always be my whole life. They were important years, and I beg young mothers to realize they go so fast and children can’t wait until you have time for them. They do come to an end (and I cried when they did).  You don’t have to accomplish your life’s work before you are 45. You don’t have to do everything on the same day, or even in the same decade! Leave something to look forward to. Relax once in a while. Take time to enjoy your life where it is right now. Be thankful for matched socks.

I have the time and freedom to pursue creative interests now. Instead of depression and exhaustion there is gladness because I am old enough to see how God delivered us from so many cliff-hanger episodes before. I can smile at the future.

And my light doesn’t go out at night -so I can find the bathroom.

IMG_5459 foot bridge leaves

IMG_5291  old walk

13 thoughts on “She Smiles at the Future

  1. Caddo

    OH I totally LOVE this!!!! Wow, wow–thank you for a great testimony–what a wonderful woman to set us straight that the “impossible” Prov 31 gal is about a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Unlike you, I didn’t have the traditional story of raising a family…but as the oldest of 6, I know about matching socks and other assorted dramas. This message should give freedom and assurance to lots of women. God bless you BIG!

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    1. Even without child-rearing there is a lot of pressure to “be accomplished” by 40. I think a give-away was about 20 years ago when I told a doctor, still in his thirties, that I was depressed. He answered, “How can you be depressed? You’ve accomplished so much!” (At the time I was caring for five children from various sources and still learning and performing major operatic roles. Crazy, I know.) He crashed a couple of years later himself.

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      1. Caddo

        Yes, unless folks have had depression, they don’t “get it”. I lived “in” it for most of my life–and now enjoy the beauty for ashes God promises. My accomplishments are not what the world recognizes, but God and I KNOW. Praising Him for the bounty of blessings late in life.

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  2. Heather (Garvin) Wik

    How precious are the times that I stop and simply live in the moment of momdom. I read your blog, put down my stack of marking, and played 10 minutes of playmobil on the bedroom floor with two of the greatest gifts in my life. Such giggles of delight you never did hear! Oh to slow down these years. I’m often guilty of trying to do to much. Right now I have a decision before me. I know God will grant me time to do the work He has planned. I just have to listen more so I know when the work is mine, and when it isn’t.

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    1. How great of you to comment, Heather. And so glad you had floor time with the children!
      I am also guilty of thinking I can stretch time and squeeze in one more thing. It’s easier to fix someone else than yourself, so I tried to fix my husband by asking him what he was willing to give up in order to take on another project – walking to work? reading time? marking time? shower time? meals? wifey time? When you hold it out at a distance (just far enough to see it as someone else’s problem) you can see that “squeezing something in” doesn’t work when it comes to time. It’s always a matter of displacement, and for many of us the thing displaced is personal time or relationship time. Sometimes I need to be more efficient. Sometimes, when considering taking on one more thing, I have to learn to ask myself, “What (or who) gets tossed this time?”

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  3. Ruth

    I watched a PBS documentary last night about an American woman coming out of severe circumstances – mother died when she was 5 of alcoholism, raped by her father abused by other men etc. abusive marriage, not defended by other tribal members and on and on – she was strong and wise enough to get into alcohol treatment and rehab. but the first thing after that was her deep desire to get an education and teach other women what she’d learned but she soon realized as a mother that she couldn’t do all that – her kids now were a next generation of sufferers, they needed her, so she quit univ. etc. I applauded her and wished I could have gone back to my post divorce days and done the same thing – just been a Mom, even to the last of six kids. I know in hindsight I missed much by trying to have a career too. I know now that loving our kids, being present in a very realistic way is the priority – great blog today, and as always – thanks!

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    1. I’m sorry, Ruth. Nobody plans to be divorced, or widowed, or to raise a child with special needs, or to face long periods of unemployment. A lot of people have no choice but to work long hours to pay off student loans or unexpected expenses -like losing your house to natural disasters that insurance companies won’t cover, or living in places that don’t have extended maternity leave or good medical insurance that is not tied to a demanding job, or having to stay home to care for an elderly or disabled parent or spouse. I realize that housing costs are so much higher than when our kids were small that in some places even basic housing requires two incomes. Resting in God is not idleness or laziness. I think it’s learning to go to Him first to find peace in the midst of chaotic activity, so we can be present for those we love. It’s learning to prioritize and leave room for love and understanding -for ourselves and for others- and I think you did that under difficult conditions. Sometimes we just want to make life easier for the next generation, right? We can rely on God to turn things around. He can use even our mistakes to his glory, but we also want our kids to learn from them -to save them time and heartache.

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