Daily Proverbial, 9 March 2012

A wife of noble character: She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31, verse 12.

“God isn’t done with you yet.” Please remember those words. Please remember them because my wife of noble character once told them to me when I was at my lowest point, and she saved my life. Commit them to memory and we’ll get back to them in a moment.

I was raised in a home where both parents worked. I was born in the mid-1960s and, from that time until I left home in 1985, both of my parents worked. Sure, there were times when one or the other of them was in-between jobs; that happens. But for most of my childhood, one or both of my parents worked. This isn’t unusual now, but it was then. My mom didn’t always want to work. She was independent and professional in an era where that was only then becoming the norm, and after we started moving around she wanted to stay at home. Circumstances dictated differently, however, and she usually worked at a hospital or nursing home because she was an RN.

It can’t be said that, when my sister and I were growing up, my parents had a wonderful marriage. Things were rough, we had our share of conflicts, and money was perennially tight. Ours was a stressful life in a time of relatively little real stress for most people. But we lived a good life, the best that could be had for the income and schedule my parents provided. Still, my parents fought from time to time, usually when the bills were due. What I think they both failed to see was how God always provided just what we needed even when it was tough or it wasn’t all they wanted.

In large part, He provided what we needed through my Mom, who was a wife of noble character. She was a strong, independently minded, educated, sometimes overbearing and even controlling person, but she had noble character. Our family needed income, so she got a job. Despite personal disappointments, constant struggles with low income and high debts, personal struggles with physical issues, and always starting over in a new place every few years (meaning we knew very few people), she did what she had to do all the days of her marriage. For me, she has all the days of her life. It takes someone living their life in Godly ways to do that. It’s more than just motherly love. It is a gift from God, who empowers people to bring good, not harm, all the days of our lives.

Or there is my mother in law. My mother in law is the best cook I’ve ever known. My aunt in Philadelphia (ok, all three of them) could give her a run for her money, but if someone asked me ‘who’s the best cook you’ve ever known’ my answer would be my mother in law. She could make dog food taste like a feast. My wife tells me that, when she and her sister were growing up, their family did ok but there wasn’t always a lot left over; that sounds familiar. The girls always had good clothes, though, and the family always had good food on the table because my mother in law went the extra mile. She made homemade clothes (stylish ones in fact. She’s also the best seamstress I know of), she cut hair, she worked extra jobs, she raised a garden, she worked hard. Oh, and did I mention that she’s the best cook I’ve ever known? We haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything, but I’ll always say without hesitation that my mother in law is a wife of noble character who brings good into the lives of those around her.

Just like her daughter, my wife. Next month, we will have been married for 23 tumultuous but good years. Much of the tumult was caused by yours truly; not all of it, and maybe not even half of it, but certainly much of it. My wife is a wife of noble character because she walks her daily journey with Jesus with determination and faith. Yes, she nags about some things. Yes, sometimes I don’t understand her. Yes, she can be as determined with me as she is with the kids at school and sometimes that ticks me off (though I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that I’m no ride in the park myself). Yes, she has her faults and I can’t and won’t make light of them.

Despite all that (and maybe, in part, because of it) she is a woman of the most noble character of anyone I know. God has enriched her life in numerous ways, blessing her with healing, health, and the ability to foster those in others. She works hard for our family, bringing in extra income at a time when we need it. She is a confidante, shining beacon, trusted friend, and woman of faith in God. My wife makes grocery lists, keeps us on schedule, works as a pre-school director, serves as a strong shoulder for those who need one, cooks, (sometimes) cleans (but she hates to iron; join the club!), keeps food in the pantry and is always someone the kids and I can talk with. Even in the times when we nearly gave up on our marriage, I could honestly say that she always did her best and worked hard to bring good, not harm, into our family. I’ll shout it from the rooftops. Not every husband can say that, especially one who tried to walk away time and again.

But the proof of her character is in those words with which we started: “God isn’t done with you yet.” We were separated, and we were on a fast track to divorce. The affair had fallen apart, she had moved out, our family was in tatters, I was having a nervous breakdown, and I thought I felt the hand of God against me; really did. In a moment of supreme compassion, when we’d been talking and I knew I didn’t deserve mercy, she said those words to me. Amazing; truly amazing. She was someone who brought good, not harm, in even the hardest days of her life. It took time for us to reconcile, move back home, try to work things out, develop new out of the old, but we did it. We did it because she helped me to see that God wasn’t done with me, or with us, yet. We were able to do it because she is a Proverbs 31 wife.

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