“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
It’s funny, because I had already planned early this week on writing a post for today about measurable success. Then last night our pastor led a Bible study on the same thing and I was afraid to proceed because I didn’t want to “steal” his thoughts. But honestly, if we stick to the Word of God, we should have the same message, maybe just from slightly different perspectives.
As far back as I can remember, I have struggled with feeling successful. My parents had nothing to do with this. They were well pleased with me and told me often. I was just a born perfectionist and set very high expectations of myself. As a result, I had awesome grades, was in multiple clubs, had four part-time jobs at once my Senior year…and ulcers.
As a pre-teen and teenager, I was involved in Missionettes, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God church. We read through the Bible, memorized scripture, did presentations and earned badges. It was a wonderful outlet for me and it shaped me as a Christian. I remember memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31. “Who can find a virtuous woman?”
Then it happened…I misinterpreted scripture again. Even worse, I misinterpreted God’s intent. I got this idea in my head that God’s expectation was for me to be the Proverbs 31 woman. Right away. Perfectly. In order. As a young woman.
Now, does God expect me to be virtuous? Absolutely! Industrious? Yes. Is Proverbs 31 a good pattern to follow? Definitely. But on one of the many days where I felt like a failure as a mom, wife and Christian, I was on the phone with Heidi. (Side note: Every lady needs a close girlfriend and prayer partner. Someone who you can talk openly with about Scripture and your life and not feel like you are being judged, but spurned to good works. If you do not have one, I will pray for you to find one! She is out there and you need her desperately. And she needs you, too!) I was spilling my guts to her about how I just can’t do it all! And she said something to the effect of, “Yeah…? Are you sure you’re supposed to be?” It hit be between the eyes. At some point in my defense, I referred to the virtuous woman and she said to look at it again.
Proverbs 31 was written by Solomon as a man. Possibly an older man. He was looking back at the life of his mother and honoring her for the virtuous life she had led in front of him over the course of his life. Very likely when she had toddlers, she was not considering a field and buying it. Quite possibly when she was laying her hand to the spindle, she was not getting her food from afar. She may have been, but remember, she was the wife of a soldier, and then of a king. Much was expected of her. But she, like all of us, had chapters in her life.
If you don’t believe me, think about when you buy your mom a Mother’s Day card. In two to four verses, you’re looking for something that captures what your mom means to you — who she is. The really good cards cover the different stages she helped you get through and they encapsulate the feeling she gives you. When you look at your mom as an example, and I hope you can, do you honestly remember every single thing she did? Or are you able to look back over the course of 20+ years and see the big picture of what a great mom she is?
Proverbs 31 was that beautiful Hallmark card from King Solomon to his mama. And it is a beautiful pattern and example for us. But God does not overwhelm us with expectations. We do that. He overwhelms us with love, mercy, forgiveness. Grace abounds!
If you are striving to please God in how you are raising your children, if you are teaching them His precepts, if you are loving them as the Heavenly Father does, then you’re doing it right.
My pastor said last night, “He gives us life in manageable sections…kinda like baby steps.” It’s true!
Look at your virtual wall, mama. Is there one more brick in your wall than there was yesterday? I’ll answer that for you. YES. Yes, there is. Something you did yesterday added to that wall of success in your home. Some days may feel like you’re just trying to survive without losing ground. Some days you may feel like you’re just defending the wall and can’t get any building in. But when someday you look back over your life, maybe someday when you get that Mother’s Day card from your grown child, you’ll look back and realize that your efforts were successful. And that the wall was built one brick at a time.
Here are some pictures of what success looks like to me…
Blessings and much love,