A wife of noble character: she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31, verse 25.
Whether you know it or not, today is a milestone. If you read this blog on WordPress, you’re reading the 500th Practical Proverbs posting. I started writing these to post them on Facebook. It was a coping mechanism when my marriage was falling apart. A friend said he read the Proverbs every day and then contemplated that reading all day long. That sounded good and I started writing. It didn’t take long to then build a blog and, voila, here we are at number 500. God is good. Where we go next with them I’m still prayerfully contemplating.
At this milestone, while we’re here, let’s contemplate a strong, dignified, courageous woman. Three women immediately come to mind (not in this order): Margaret Thatcher, Christina Hendricks, and my wife. Baroness Thatcher is obvious. Even if you aren’t a conservative, you have to admit that she is a woman clothed with strength, dignity, and that she has backbone; she isn’t called “The Iron Lady” for nothing. First among equals, she had the political strength and the character to overcome her nation’s fiscal and social bankruptcy and build from those into something better. She was a leader at a time when Europe was leaderless and adrift.
Then there is the indomitable Ms. Hendricks. I’m a “Mad Men” fan and have long thought the sultry red-haired actress was quite pretty. It’s really her current character that intrigues me though; it’s the character that has those qualities from the verse. She plays someone as slinky as the 60s couture in which she’s clothed. Underneath that façade, she’s also got real grit and can stand toe to toe with the chauvinist male characters that populate most of the cast. I haven’t seen Ms. Hendricks in many other roles, but I imagine it’s no small chore to be a curvy, confident dignified lady in an industry where rail thin is considered obese. Props to her for being who she is; maybe it’s not all acting.
But above those two (or anyone else) I submit my wife. I’ve known her for 29 years, and have been her significant other for 25. During that time, I’ve put her through quite a bit of hell, and I’ve dragged the woman around the world (literally) while pursuing my various careers. I first met her when she was a country girl in a small southern Indiana town. There was something about her that told me, almost from the time I first got to know her well, that she had a deep vein of golden strength in her. Through our time together, she’s found faith, shared and grown it, learned to stand up and be proud, and become the kind of person I want to be.
When I think of a woman of noble character, one clothed with Godly strength and dignity who can laugh at the harsh trials of life because she knows she can overcome them, I think of my wife. I’ve always been attracted to strong, attractive, but witty and fun ladies, yet nobody else I’ve ever known really measures up to her. I’m not going to over-idealize the lady; she’d be embarrassed if I read these words out loud. Her favorite Bible verses, though, are from Romans 5 where Paul talks about how God works for our best in all things, how suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope because of what God did in His Son.
It takes a person of substance, strength, and dignity to make those words her theme in life. She chose them many years ago, years before we ever started growing together in God. He knew her ‘when’ and He knew He would make her into a Godly woman of substantive dignity. The people she grew up with underestimated her. If you knew her all those years ago in southern Indiana, you might not have seen her in that light…but God did.
And I did. I’ll always be thankful for the day when I realized that I saw her in that light just as I will always be thankful she’s given me far more chances than I ever deserved. She did it because of love and mercy, her love and her mercy which are God’s love and God’s mercy. The tough times we’ve had, and there have been many, many of them over our quarter century, have toughened her but they haven’t defeated her. She learned to persevere and let that perseverance deepen into character that produced the solid promise of hope.
What’s more, we laugh a lot. After a couple has loved and hated each other, married, separated, fought, reconciled, fought again, reconciled again, controlled, rejoiced, parented, worshipped, struggled, bankrupted, recovered, worked, played, and lived together, we still laugh. Indeed, after so much time and so many trials, I see her in a wholly different light now. She makes me smile. I much prefer to ‘cut up’ than to be serious all the time, but I find now that the humor comes more from the heart rather than just as a way to cope. We have endured many tough times, those left over from growing up, those with us as a couple, those of her design and those of my making; sins all and challenges every one. Through them, though, we laugh more. We laugh because we know, she knows, that it’s a tough old world out there. In that tough world, God has her back and has prepared us for those challenges. A woman who can laugh at the world is a woman who knows she can overcome the world’s worries and petty fears. It’s not a laugh of arrogance or over-confidence. It’s laughing knowing that we’re covered.
On a 500th post anniversary, that’s something worth celebrating. Sometime next week, God-willing, we’ll finish out the book of Proverbs and I’ll probably take a short break. Gonna rest the noodle for a week or two while listening to where God takes me. These days, I’m thankful that He’s guiding me along my journey at the side of a strong, dignified, and confident woman of noble character. For too long I searched for someone like that, not realizing she was by my side all along. No matter how many blog posts there are, and no matter how many years we have together, I’d stand my lady up against Lady Thatcher, the red-haired Ms. Hendricks, or anyone.