"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Alrighty now, we have studied verse after verse that outlined what we should be doing as moms, wives, and even singles, in this life of a Spirit-filled woman. We've talked about the fact that we could read this passage and cringe under the comparison, but instead we should use this as a guide, not a recipe for guilt! If you look at marriages and other relationships that have lasted through the years, one common thread can be seen -- each person in the relationship values the other more highly than themselves. I think that is the whole point, the goal of the writer of Proverbs 31. We may not exemplify ALL of the virtues here, but I bet that we are doing well on many of these points.
Now we get to a verse that says "Hey! You will get something special in return!" Well, we know that we will receive blessings from our Father, as we grow and mature in Him, but this is something different. It seems to say that we will receive some kudos from those to whom we are ministering, and those that we love.
Motherhood is a demanding job; it requires skill, grace, love, sacrifice, and willingness. It's been said that the rewards are great (but then, so are the challenges!).What did this woman do to gain the respect of her husband and the blessing of her children? It seems that she simply loved them by what she said and by what she did for them.
"Well, I'm doing the best I can, for my kiddos, my husband, my mother (insert whatever you need to, in the blank) and I don't hear them pouring out the praise for me!" Is that what you are thinking?
I certainly can understand that feeling. I have been there. I've done that. I even bought the franchise so that I could sell the T-shirts. (Grin)
I've had those days when I didn't feel motherly to the kiddos that were cranking out the whines and pushing all of my buttons. I've been there when an elderly parent seemed to take for granted the time and attention that was given. Those are days that are filled with growing pains -- and I'm talking about MY growth, not the kiddos!
It seems a lot easier to get praise outside the home, have you noticed that? Pats on the back for work in the office may come more quickly from your boss. Kudos for a ministry humming smoothly may come more easily at church, than "thank yous" inside the home.
What to do?
Here are some opportunities that you may already use, or maybe you have overlooked:
- Praise your kiddos - Even on days that they are pulling the levers and pushing your buttons, find just one thing to compliment or praise them for. (Believe me, on some days you will think there is NOTHING that you can find but if you look, you can!)
- Be available - This is for the kiddos, or for a parent or relative to whom you minister. You may not be able to drop everything when they holler, but make sure that the time you spend with them, they get the feeling that you are truly there just for them.
- Try to make time for something (and this can be inexpensive!) that they enjoy doing with you. This is just as much for our own parents as for our children. Playing board games or cards, grilling a supper, the possibilities are endless, and don't have to cost an arm and a leg.
- Love your hubby -- this is for the kiddos; there is no better example for them to see, than that of their parents loving and praising one another!
I had several moms who told me that they felt they were "just" moms with a mini-van, shuttling kids to co-op and soccer, and grading papers at midnight! When my kids heard that, they rolled their eyes, sighed exasperatedly, and told me that I was NOT "just a mom, like that."
You want to guess who went to bed that night with a heart full of love and contentment? Uh-huh. I did!
Here's the key -- you need to look for those praises, and appreciate them! Our kiddos (and our parents) may not be eloquent, and they may not praise us often, but they do. The praise may not come as often as that from a vocation outside the home, but it is often much more heartfelt, and absolutely priceless!
Yes, you are a ruby, Christian lady -- single or married, you are striving to be what God wants you to be, and you are a gem!