Have you ever read the 31st chapter of Proverbs? For the most part, I kind of stay away from it.
I have known for a while why that is. If you are a woman, especially a wife and/or mother, the famous “Proverbs 31 Woman” can be intimidating…downright discouraging. I don’t think God means for me to feel discouraged when I read about this (obviously) type A female who has it all together (wink), but never-the-less, I do. Mainly because I am not the Martha Stewart of domesticity. Nor do I possess the ingenuity of this leading lady. But what I do have is a strong desire to be a healthy mother and wife. To have a healthy marriage and raise God-confident, passionate daughters who grow to fearlessly become who God plans for them to be. But I realize, most heartbreakingly at times, I cannot do this on my own. I simply don’t have what it takes. And honestly, that irritates me sometimes.
See, when I felt in my heart God calling me to a place of leadership and ministry on staff at our church this past year I was completely at His feet about it. I mean, if you know me then you know I married a natural-born leader. One of my nearest and dearest best buddies is a natural-born leader (the petite red-heads are always feisty!). But me? A leader? Not so much. Helper…yes! Where do you need me kind of servant…yes! God I want to follow wherever you lead…yes. And He led me, like He so often does, into a place I could not have predicted nor could I handle in my own strength. It was quite an adventure. As I neared the arrival of my newest daughter, however, I knew my season in leadership was coming to a close. And so I put on those snug and well-worn shoes of new baby, stay-at-home mommy. And really, I thought I had it covered. All. By. My. Self.
So many emotions. So many hormones! So many sleep-interrupted nights. Hot tears stung my eyes standing in my driveway with one of God’s gifts of friendship in my life recently. As I expressed my confusion along with my joy, I realized my pride is hurt because deep inside I thought I could do this without having to go to God about it every day. I mean, leadership and ministry, sure. But mothering? Adapting to a new little person who needs me along with the rest of the needy little people and the needs of the big guy, too? Deep inside I felt annoyed that I couldn’t at least do this without being desperate for God. Shouldn’t I at least be able to mother my girls and meet my husband’s needs and keep a clean house without having to admit to God I need a lot of His help? Well, whether I should or not, I can’t.
So, this morning with loads of laundry at my side and the hurricane of Christmas still somewhat cluttering my house, I flipped over to Proverbs 31. Maybe she could help. What happened next is why I write…why I share…why I feel compelled to be so real about my life. God is amazing. Amazing. I read through the chapter about how she sews and buys fields and gets up early (I know, right?) but then I felt that inner pause when I read the following:
“When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.” (Proverbs 31:26-27 the message)
With my little Leighton on her activity mat swatting at the dangling toys and my girls outside with their dad, I pondered the kinds of things I have been saying. I thought about how I had been saying them. I thought about my girls and how one of my jobs as mom is making sure they are productive and not idle. I felt like in the midst of the surrounding need and my grasping He was giving me a place to start…to hold onto. And then I heard my phone, charging in my bedroom, sound the alert for a text. When I got up to check my message I was amazed…amazed…at what I read. My dear friend from the driveway had sent me a text with scripture on it. The exact verses above…the same version of the Bible even! I was blown away. Tears spilled as I took in the greatness of God. How personal He is and why it matters to follow His leading in your heart. Because she was willing to follow the prompting in her heart to send me those verses at that exact moment, I was deeply encouraged that God was truly speaking to me this morning. In a way I have longed for.
Whether this post is about us ladies (and men!) filtering our words for value and kindness and building up our children and families or if perhaps it’s about the personal force of God’s greatness and compassion in our everyday lives, I don’t know. You choose.
All I know is this has been a crazy, wonderful year full of growth and learning for me. And on this last day of 2011 the first, last and best thing I can tell you is that God is amazing. Always. On the mountain tops or in the valleys…with the light of life blazing or groping in the darkness…stepping into His promises or learning to let go…living with passion in full-on obedience or crying out in repentance…crystal clear on where He’s taking you or completely flustered and confused…celebrating answered prayer or absorbing bad news…feeling His presence as near as your next breath or feeling like your prayers are going nowhere. In all that we are, all we hope to be and every day in between Jesus is there. Full of compassion and patience. Ready to meet us and speak to our hearts.