“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
When I first came to know the Lord about 17 years ago, the wife of noble character in Proverbs 31:10-31 was incredibly daunting. Not only is she expected to be a pillar of strength and a helper to her husband, the wife in Proverbs 31 embodies the role of what some today might call “Minister of Home Affairs”, and accomplishes it all effortlessly with strength, dignity, joy and compassion. As a young adult then, I was both inspired and fearful of what it meant to be a Godly wife and mother.
Seven years later, as a young wife and mother I was burnt out trying to achieve the key performance indicators laid out in Proverbs 31. I was constantly tired, irritable and stressed. I oscillated between the guilt of not doing enough and resentment at God for placing such an impossible burden on the Christian wife and mother.
Thankfully, there was a prayer and fellowship support group for mothers then. At one meeting, a guest speaker again exhorted us from Proverbs 31. This time though, I saw God’s instructions in a different light.
Firstly, the Proverbs 31 wife and mother is not a snapshot at one point in life, but rather an amalgamation of different seasons in a woman’s life, culminating in a lifetime’s worth of experiences and accomplishments. (Phew! You mean I don’t have to be all that right now? Imagine my relief when I realized that I had fallen into the trap of a “career homemaker and mother”.)
Secondly, the Proverbs 31 wife and mother draws strength and joy from the Lord. It was not by relying on her own talent, strength or determination, but out of an enduring love and devotion to become a woman after God’s own heart. The wife and mother who serves her family does it not so much to satisfy her aspirations nor to please the family or society, but to please God who has given her this privilege and responsibility. (You mean I have nothing to prove to myself, nothing to prove to the world, nothing to prove to God?)
Since then, I’ve learnt to take a step back. Instead of focusing on the outcomes, I’ve learnt to focus on the process of seeking the Lord in big things and small, committing all my inadequacies to Him and trusting Him to do what is best for my family. While I labour to bring my children up, I’m not overly concerned with their achievements, health or happiness. There is tremendous peace and joy in letting God mould me and my family to be who He wants us to be. He is the Potter, we are the clay.
As a mother of more than 11 years now, I’ve come to see Proverbs 31 in a different light again. This time, I read back to verses 1-9 and see the influence a mother has on her children. Proverbs 31:10-31 is in fact the purposeful coaching of a Godly mother to her son on how to choose a Godly wife. Not because she herself has successfully accomplished all this, but because her years of devotion and walking with the Lord has led her to discern the type of Godly woman she would counsel her son to marry, and I imagine how she would raise her daughters to be.
I believe God does not judge us by our results, but by our heart and effort. We are not called to be perfect wives and mothers. If we are humble and contrite before the Lord, our husbands and children will recognize our hard work and heartfelt efforts, and we will receive the rewards from God in due time.
Happy Mother’s Day!
By Linda Leong (YCKC Bulletin 11&12 May 2013)