I promised that I would talk about why I have been writing this series, and the principles behind why I do what I do… But it’s not an easy thing for me to write about. For all that I probably look like I splay my life out here, for all to see, there’s a lot going on under the hood, so to speak, that powers my life and gives me the motive force to keep going through thick and thin.
And I’m going to break one of my unspoken rules and venture into religion here. I normally don’t talk about my faith, that’s not my way. Which I suppose is a whole ‘nother topic, but for today I’ll just say that I can’t do this, without that. So! Understand that while I’m going to be quoting Bible verses and what-not, the principles here stand, no matter what you believe. Rather than reflexively rejecting them due to the source, if you feel that way, stop and analyze them on their content instead.
I was brought up with a certain standard. One that was epitomized in Proverbs 31, which is where I drew inspiration for the title of this series, and for my path through life. The woman whose value was above rubies (and, you know, this may also be part of why I’m not keen on diamonds? I’ve known since I was little that rubies and emeralds were rarer and more precious) and who was a home-based executive. This was a woman who worked. She ran a successful business, her husband was proud of her, her children honored her… I’ve never thought I could be all that was described in that passage. I have, however, used it, and what I know about certain female ancestresses, to inspire me when I was discouraged. The ideal woman worked with her hands, creating things of beauty from raw materials to finished work. But not only that, she was a manager as well, with multiple underlings to keep on track and in order.
When it became obvious that I had to run a business from home, in addition to taking care of my babies, I turned to this passage. It wasn’t impossible, I told myself. I have all the modern conveniences. What would the internet, even just phone calls, have been for the Proverbs ideal woman? I have tools she would never have even dreamed of. I have the world at my fingertips.
Above and beyond the business aspect of being a wife and helpmeet, there is the struggle to learn, and motivate oneself, when one is a young wife and mother. For this, I looked at the passage in Titus 2,
3The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
I was very alone as a young wife. I wanted someone I could go to with questions, for simple stuff like ‘how do I manage baby, housecleaning, and everything else I’m supposed to do in a day?’ Ok, maybe that’s not a simple question. But there were few times in the years while my children were very young that I could find someone who could and would offer me some mentorship. And that is why I’ve been writing these posts. Perhaps out there a young person will be looking for help, and can find it here.
Giving back what I’ve learned the hard way, so others can learn a little easier. It’s already hard to be on your own in the world, even when you have two people coupled in a relationship. It’s harder when that relationship is tenuous, as so many are these days. I can’t teach persistence, endurance, and honor. I can model those things as a life worth living. Which is also why I don’t talk about my faith. What are words, against the unspoken visible life?
I often think of my life as a tapestry. The threads that weave through it are many, and many colored. Sometimes I can take a step back and see that there is a pattern, yes, and there is beauty in it. Other times I’m just too close and it’s chaos with constant strings pulling and wrapping and choking… I’ve been blessed with friends who could help me take that step back, and who would point out that I am beautiful of mind, which saves me when I’m ready to despair. That is perhaps the greatest gift. I’ll never turn down crockpot recipes that are reliable and tasty… but perspective when I’m being an idiot is invaluable. Friends like that are precious. A spouse like that is a treasure beyond reckoning.
So this is the foundation. Persistence, honor, courage… you won’t know it’s courage, on the day. You’ll only know that later, when you look back at what happened, and you can finally see clearly. That’s not going to happen on the day after, either. You may not be able to gain perspective for a long time, months, years even.
Listening to wise counsel. Determining who is wise, and who isn’t – that’s a little harder. Titus2:3, that helps you decide a little. if the person giving you advice is a gossip, a self-medicater (and this is not limited to alcohol, by the way, it’s just that prescription drugs, fad diets, and ‘natural remedies’ weren’t around when Titus was written), and someone who doesn’t have a good reputation, steer clear.
I’m no paragon of virtues. I know some women who are, and I admire them greatly. I’m just trying to keep going, day in and out, living by the standards I have set up, and failing. The thing is, when you fail, you get back up. You get back on the horse that threw you… there’s a reason that’s a cliche. If you allow your fear to win, even once, then it becomes stronger. Every time you allow it to dictate your life to you, it grows until that little fear, that small failure, has become a hydra-like monster. Monsters make for good stories of exciting adventures with heroic deeds, but you don’t want them living in your quiet home, disrupting your peaceful life.
I’m not done yet. Not done with the raising of my children, nor the living of my life, not even the making of mistakes. But the best way I can think of to succeed is to analyze my own mistakes, no matter how painful that may feel at times, and to look back at the foundation I’ve built on, to remind me what standards I am trying to reach. Perhaps if I can help someone else along the way, their life will be a bit happier for it. Eh. I’m all muddled and need to get back to the child-rearing so the boy gets on the bus and the rest of the house gets some TLC. Opening up feels a bit raw and vulnerable.