mother's day ramblings

'A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.'  Proverbs 31:10

My father-in-law text me this verse this morning as Mother Day approaches.  And I so appreciated it.  But I really don't care for 
honoring myself on Mother's Day.  Typically, I try to make it like any other day because I don't feel like I need a day of recognition set aside for me.  I am extremely grateful to be a mom.  It's the best, most hardest thing I've ever done!  And in all honesty, many times I feel I'm failing.  Or drowning.  And then I read this and sarcastically think, 'Right on, King 'Lemuel'.  Who can find this kind of woman?'  (PS: the noun for wife her is translated as woman, wife, female.)  Can this type of woman even be found?!

According to Strong's concordance, virtuous/noble in hebrew/greek is 'chayil'.  A masculine noun.  And I was surprised to learn that 'chayil' is translated: a force, an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength, might, power, riches, strong, substance, valiant, virtuous, worthy.  Who can find a woman who is truly noble:....?

So this is the typical Mother's Day for me in the last 10 years of being a mom: 

Wake up. Try to ignore that I'll be glorified for being a mom.  Try to stay humble.  Husband/kids wake up.  Makes mom feel special.  Mom begins to feel exceptional.  Mom begins to be prideful.  Church stands and applauds said mom.  Mom tears because yes, mom is pretty special.  Receive hand-made gifts from children. Mom is elated!  Mom thinks fondly of them and herself. 
Children/husband do their best to cook and clean up for mom. How sweet, mom thinks. Mom finishes the job properly, but with some unexpected reluctance because this is her day. Did the family forget?  Mom decides to lounge and nap.  Children tantalize her while husband enjoys nap.  Mom gets irritated... this is her day that's all about her!  What is wrong with children and father.  Offspring begin complaints of starvation at 2:00.  Mom begins to speak between clenched teeth to get a healthy snack - no, get whatever the heck they want.  Dinnertime, entire household needs to eat- again.  Mom's very special day that's supposed to be perfect and easy for her is ruined as she has to make dinner arrangements. No help cleaning up this time. Kitchen clean, mom mad. Kids demand bedtime snack. Argues with children to get ready for bed. Half-heartedly kisses kids goodnight. Sits on couch.  Instantly feels agitated about how much she really messed this day up.  Mom guilt sets in.  She's a failure.  Another Mother's Day that she has ruined.  Prays family won't remember this day or to honor her the following year.

True. Story.

My mind keeps going back to John 21 where Jesus reinstates Peter.  Peter had previously made big claims that he would never deny Christ!  In fact, he said he'd die for Jesus (Mark 14:31).  Peter publicly rejects Jesus' words and led the others to make similar proud vows.  After slashing off a soldier's ear in the garden (Matt. 26:51... pride comes before the fall), he denies being a follower of Jesus to a servant girl! (John 18:17... he cowers).  In John 21:15, Jesus has a conversation with Peter.  Peter had sinned publicly and as a leader of the apostles, he needed public rebuke and restoration.  I don't usually resonate with Peter as he is the bold, impulsive leader-type.  But since studying this, I've been convicted.  I am a leader in my role as mom.  And I have been prideful and have abused my authority as well.

Being a woman is HARD.  Being a wife is HARD.  Being a mom is HARD!  If you are also one of these things, maybe you'd agree!  
 In a culture that encourages perfection or at least feigning it, it isn't helpful when you're reminded of your natural tendencies to fail.

Peter realized that he was a mess.  He once relied on his own strength and merits.  Then he failed.  But in failing, he is met with his weakness... and Jesus' love for him meets him there.  Once Peter is humbled, he is able to serve.  He is now qualified to lead.  He is no longer prideful.  Only Jesus can give us the strength we need to lead humbly. Peter goes on to preach and lead a flock to Jesus.  And the books he wrote in the Bible continue to lead people to Christ.  What changed?  Peter got humble!  Peter received the Holy Spirit. Peter relies on Jesus' strength. And just like Peter agreed to do (die for Jesus), and Jesus affirmed would happen (John 21:18), Peter goes on to be crucified!  When Peter got humble and dependent, the Holy Spirit could accomplish an incredible legacy!  

Who doesn't want an incredible legacy?  But it's not Peter's own. It was Jesus' work through him. So bringing this back to Proverbs 31....  I guess when I read the verse, 'A woman of noble character who can find', I settle on the fact that she doesn't actually exist.  If noble means a force, an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength, might, power, riches, strong, substance, valiant, virtuous, worthy.... that is not what any of us can claim to have.  Only Jesus has those qualities.  But guess what?!  I have Jesus!!!  He is at the very core of who I am.  I can tap into these resources and display these qualities.  But all glory to Him and only Him!  Don't you find it funny now that the noun 'noble' is a Masculine One in this verse when referring to a woman?!  We alone as women can not take credit for these qualities expressed in this Proverb.  But we can hold to it as we rely on Jesus to sustain us.  We are not an army, but we belong to one!  We are not wealthy, we are poor.  But He is rich and we are His heirs!  We are not full of virtue, we are human and immoral.  Only brought to holiness through Jesus.  We are weak, but have the same resurrecting power only because of Jesus equipping us.  And we are certainly not worthy.  Jesus alone is worthy.  (Rev 4:11, 5:9, 5:12)  Only Jesus can receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.  So I guess what I'm finding is that these qualities can only come from having a dependence on the Holy Spirit knowing that we will never do a perfect job this side of heaven.  But 'He who began a good work in you [me] will be faithful to complete it' (Philippians 1:6).  And one thing we can be is a 'Woman who fears the Lord' (Proverbs 31:30).  I don't contradict the Word that she 'that fears the Lord should be praised'.  That is most definitely praiseworthy.  But a woman who fears the Lord will reflect that praise back to The One who is of noble character.  The only One.  No more pride in Mother's Day and no more shame, either.  But constant dependence on the Holy Spirit to accomplish these things in her life.  My life.