Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Application

So I was sitting around working on my personal goals for next year. Eat better (yeah, whatever), doodle, exercise (uh-huh, sure), doodle, organize the sock drawer once and for all (seems a little…mundane…), doodle…

I wanted something…more. Something that had less to do with the usual blather about losing weight or getting involved in the community, and more to do with grounding.

Something that spoke to the underlying commitment I have to my family and my Self; my need to serve those I love, the deep satisfaction I get from taking care of them, to celebrate the happiness I have in my marriage, to acknowledge that I’m a darned hard worker and awfully clever, come right down to it – that I have the power to do a great deal more than I’ve been doing, these last eleven months…

I’ve spent an awful lot of 2006 being selfish. Slacking. Letting things slide. Oh yeah, sure, I had my reasons – emphasis on had. The reasons themselves are largely gone, but they’ve left pretty sloppy habits behind.

I work as little as I can, and then retreat to my rocking chair to whine about how much is still left to do. I don’t plan, and then I’m surprised when things go awry. I don’t keep up the housework and then become upset when I’m sending Eldest digging through piles of clothing in search of an emergency pair of sock. Dinner plans are spotty at best. And the checkbook is in a state I really can’t talk about right now. Also, I have been eating cookies for dinner a lot lately.

Yes, I have.

No, I don’t want to talk about it.

I have been a very, very pathetic excuse for wife and mother this year. Don’t argue with me, people. I really have. I’ve done the barest minimum I could get away with, and the fallout is all around me in the form of clutter, frantic disorganization in the pantry, hungry children wearing odd, semi-clean clothing and credit card bills that are surprisingly higher than I expected them to be.

It was as I was sitting here asking myself how I could do better that a vague memory stirred. There was a poem, about a virtuous wife, or a noble wife, or something like that. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband too, he praises her…

Took me a while to find it, but find it I did: this is from the Christian Bible, book of Proverbs, 31:10-31:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark; and provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable; and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom and dignity, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
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.
Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

That’s it, that’s it exactly. As I read through this, the power of this woman strikes me. I don't see her sitting around saying, "Yes, dear, whatever you say, dear, what would I know, I'm just a little woman, dear..."

She's one who gets out there and gets the job done. She is a force to be reckoned with, a loving but passionate person, a canny business person, a tender mother, a supportive spouse.

She rocks. I want to be like that. I want to work not only hard, but smart. I want to go at it, and stay at it, and profit from it. I want to see opportunity and seize it.

I want to be generous to others, to give them a leg up where I can.

I want to know my children are well-fed, well-dressed, and can trust that their mommy is going to take care of things.

I want to be a good wife to my husband, which is really nothing more than returning what he gives to me. I couldn’t have a better husband if I ordered him from a custom catalog.

I want to be a person of noble character, one who can be relied upon; to earn the praise of my loved ones.

So there you are. My goal for 2007: live like a wife of noble character from somewhere around 900 BCE or so, fulfilling my own potential and taking joy in service, all at the same time.

If that doesn’t empower me to laugh at the days to come, I don’t know what will. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick out some wool and work with eager hands – I still have a couple gifts to finish…


21st Century Mom said...

That is very...noble. I personally doubt that you are falling very fall off the mark right now so it seems very achievable.

Two things to remember -
1). To give yourself full credit for what you do.
2).To give yourself a spa day once in a while to help keep all that on track.

Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

Blimey - you are going to have to rename your blog to Den of Serenity!

I do think you should pause for a moment and think about what you achieved this year: if giant cockroaches have not bred in your house and carried off your children to be their slaves, if your extended family have not staged an intervention to prevent your laundry pile from evolving into a new and aggressive life-form (mine has!) and if your spouse still speaks to you on subjects other than "Where are my socks/ my keys/ my children/ the best years of my life, then you must have done a pretty good job!

I'm with 21st Century Mom on this one - give yourself some credit. After all, I bet if that biblical mother was astute enough to know good land, good linen and a good man when she saw one then she could recognized her own worth too!

See those gorgeous kids, shiny new minivan, pleasant home and happy husband? None of them would be that way without you!

NeedleTart said...

The best part of Proverbs 31? "Her value is above rubies." It's taken a few years (26 so far) but I've persueded The Husband that rubies are a teriffic gift for a loving wife.

RM Kahn said...

"She rocks. I want to be like that. I want to work not only hard, but smart. I want to go at it, and stay at it, and profit from it. I want to see opportunity and seize it."

Can I join you in this? I need help getting out of my rut.. it's pretty deep.