Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Super Woman

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day (buy that card yet?) and I find myself preaching in the book of Proverbs n our light speed tour through the Old Testament, thus it seems fitting that my text would be taken from Proverbs 31:10-31. That overwhelming description of the "virtuous woman."

The problem for me is that I really loath preaching that passage on Mother's Day. In years past, people have even asked me to preach it and I have told them 'no.' My reasons mostly stem from 1) it has been too overused for Mother's Day, and 2) I think it often leaves mom's (and women in general) feeling defeated, knowing that they may never measure up to such a high and glorious standard.

But, since I am already in Proverbs (Divine planning?) and since it will be Mother's Day, I am biting the proverbial bullet and I am going to give it a whirl. I would love to hear your thoughts on the passage, especially any of you who belong to the "gentler sex." Though after reading through the passage again, that title may not be quite fitting. :o)

As I have been reading through the passage, I must say I have been drawn to the last two verses. Within them is a firm challenge to both of the sexes. The Word of God states,
Charm is deceptive, and beauty 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.

And to all you moms, Happy Mother's Day!


Anonymous said...

I agree with you...Proverbs 31 is a "tall order" for we women!!!!
However, I take comfort in verse 30 that states," BUT...a woman that feareth the Lord,SHE shall be praised".....it isn't our "perfection" in the flesh that will be praised...but our love for the Lord.
I used this chapter at my mother's memorial service. My mother was not perfect by a long shot but she was the personification of a Godly woman and mother. Because she found herself a divorced mother of three children back in the 40's she was a working mom (almost unheard of back then!) She worked nights at the hospital, she kept our home spick and span, she shopped , she cooked, she thought ahead and canned for the winter months and stocked her pantry well before the Indiana winters made getting to a store very difficult with no car.She took her children to every church service that was offered throughout the week...she taught Sunday School, served on the Board, served as a Deaconess, hosted cottage prayer meetings in our home, was chairman of the Prayer and Fasting League, tithed her small income...no matter what...visited the sick and shut ins every Sunday afternoon.Her main focus in life was to please the Lord she loved with all of her heart and to lead her children in the paths of righteousness. She suffered her entire life from a deep feeling of inferiority and sense of failure because of her broken marriage...but she perservered. When she died at the age of 90...we her children, didn't remember her imperfections...her weaknesses or failures....we "rose up" and called her blessed. We were confident of her love for each of us..and her godly example.

I look back on my almost 50 years of "motherhood"...and I see all of the IM-perfections....falling oh so short of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.....BUT I know my heart...and most of all GOD knows my heart and we both know my deepest desire is to be a woman that "feareth the Lord"...and leads her children in the paths of righteousness.

I hope that when my life is over...my children can look beyond my imperfections and falling short of the Proverbs 31 woman.....but still rise up and call me blessed...because I feared the Lord.

Happy Mother's Day...all you gals! Ruthie

Anonymous said...

Let me see, well my mother was and still is (nowadays only around certain family members) an atheist and with all due respect, I don’t suppose I could call her blessed and even though it sounds harsh to call her cursed, the bottom line is: All of us are either under the blood or under the curse.

My mother’s philosophy has always been that she is not afraid of hell because nothing could be worse than the living hell we have to face here on earth. There was no point trying to point out that that things weren’t presently all that bad whenever she said that or trying to point out that things could certainly have been a whole lot worse. Getting a word in edgeways being the first challenge, the discussion was bound to go down hill from there.

When I think of my mother, I remember someone whose nostrils were usually flaring, eyes burning with anger, and mouth spitting out curse words, gossip, and condemnation about whoever she was talking about (and she was almost always talking about someone). Her main talent unlike the lady described in Proverbs consisted of making a mountain out of a molehill. The least little thing that didn’t go exactly, precisely the way she wanted it to go was the end of the world to her and would most likely throw her into a temper tantrum. Flexibility was not her strong point.

Control was really the issue and that is one of the reasons I believe that it is so important to “surrender” to God. Things may not always go the way we want. We may not be able to call the shots, but if we quit pouting about things that didn’t go our way and the blessings we don’t have and open our eyes and start counting the blessings we do have, that is not going into denial (which I never advocate), but instead just seeing the cup half full instead of half empty.

It is impossible for me as her daughter to arise and call her blessed and I dread ever having to be around her or even talk to her on the telephone. After hours of listening to everyone’s shortcomings and sins in the most self-righteous tone imaginable, I feel weary and drained and miserable.

My grandmother on the other had was a believer and by the grace of God, she handled “mothering” me from the time I was a small infant until I was in my teens. She nurtured me, sang hymns (with her less than perfect, squeaky, high pitched voice) while she rocked me in her rocking chair. Although her outward beauty had long since faded, she had dignity and grace and wisdom. My mother (who my classmates told me looked like a movie star - she was so pretty) lived in the same house, but she worked and that left me mercifully with my grandmother most of the time. A grand – “mother” who I would indeed have to call blessed. Even though she was far from perfect and by then an elderly invalid who I as a child had to wait on quite a bit, she feared the Lord and that made all the difference in the world.

My grandmother did not keep the house spick and span. My brothers and I did all the housework. She didn’t work outside the home and like many shut-in invalids, she did not attend church regularly. Jesus fortunately lives inside people’s hearts whether they can get out to go to church or not. Although she cooked all the meals, I had to bring her every ingredient, pot and pan, spoon, ladle and rolling pin while she sat by the stove or table where she worked.

She was for all intents and purposes my real mother though because my biological mother would have easily been classified by child services as an unfit mother. Indeed, had not my grandmother become my surrogate mother, I’m quite sure sooner or later child services would have removed me from my biological mother’s care (or at least they should have).
The difference between them could easily be summed up with often heard cliche: Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.

Like most people who have had that kind of dysfunctional parent, I feel guilty not being able to praise her or to rise up and call her blessed. I pray and I believe that God is calling her and patiently waiting for her to one day surrender her life to him. But she isn’t blessed yet. She is still under the curse, still beating her head against the sky. I also feel guilty saying these things, but I felt I should because God knows my heart and he knows it is not my desire to bad mouth my biological mother (the day before Mother’s Day at that), but instead to respond to your concern about women feeling like they have to be “superwoman” to be a good mother.

You see that was the whole reason my biological mother failed is simply because tried to be “superwoman” instead of God’s woman. She was very self-reliant, capable and intelligent and there was hardly anything she couldn’t learn quickly or master. She was in actual fact, a better cook than my grandmother, although she hardly ever cooked. She was a high energy woman who could easily have handled the household chores as well as working full time with a few other things thrown in as well if my grandmother hadn’t served as cook and her children as housekeepers.

The moral of these two stories for me is that it is not necessary for a woman to be superwoman to be a proverbs woman. It is only important for her to surrender her life and will to God thru his Son and learn to rely upon God instead of herself.

I know I often sound like a broken record, and I’ve said it before but it always (to me) bears repeating again and again because it is so human to get into self instead of being led by the spirit. But my motto is and always (I hope) will be that self-reliance and self-will should be what all Christians avoid like the plague (or curse?).

All any woman needs to do to be a good mother is learn to lean upon God completely and rely upon him entirely, each according to their own ability using whatever gifts and talents God has given them – I truly believe that is all it takes to be a Proverbs Woman or a mother whose children will rise and call her blessed whether that woman is married, divorced, working outside the home as well or working full time as a homemaker and mother.

The most important thing a woman can do to be a good mother is admit that she can’t do it. It’s way too much for her. She needs God’s help every step of the way. God help the woman who does try to be superwoman.

And God help her children.


Anonymous said...

Ooops, Mother's day is Sunday not tomorrow. Oh well, sent the card too early, and she hates it when I do that! I'll have to send another one to get there on the actual day.

I don't believe a woman has to be an overachiever to be a mother whose children call her blessed. My grandmother just did the best she could according to her abilities (considering her age and physical condition), but I believe she was just as much a proverbs woman as ruthie's mother who learned to lean on God but was obviously able to do a lot more physically than my grandmother.

They both just did the best they could according to their own abilities. My grandmother may sound like a failure compared to Ruthie's mother, but she seems like a saint to me.

The thing that stands out in both of our minds the most about them is that they feared the Lord.