As usual, my family rose as I entered my pristine kitchen. With excited anticipation they watched as I strolled over to my beloved crock-pot. As I lifted the lid, they erupted in a chorus of praise and adulation. In unison they inhaled the exquisite aroma of my Wednesday Night Chili. I smiled contentedly as their heart-felt appreciation showered over me. I replaced the lid as my husband kissed my cheek and whispered in my ear, “Honey, where are my keys?”
I was back to reality. Back to the real world where no one appreciates my cooking, my kitchen is anything but pristine, and my husband thinks estrogen has given me the magical ability to locate all his missing items.
It happens that I do know where his keys are (estrogen had nothing to do with it) and I hand them to him. Off he goes to work and I think how nice it would be to spend time with him this evening. But by the time he returns tonight I will have been tried and tested, stretched and contorted and perhaps even had a few out-of-body experiences.
I’m a homeschooling mom. Right now a romantic evening with my husband sounds exciting and rejuvenating, but I fear that those thoughts will have faded by 7 p.m. and by then I won’t have the energy even to form the words “back rub,” let alone give one.
The High Standard
As I enter the schoolroom to begin the day, I think of the woman known simply as The Proverbs 31 Woman. She has all her ducks in a row, all her plates spinning smoothly in the air, and no greasy yellow build-up. Her “to do” list is always completely checked off by day’s end. She is not the so-so wife. She is not the good wife. She is the Excellent Wife! The excellent wife I want to be.
By day she nurtures, teaches and loves her children. By night her husband oohs and aahs over her cooking and whispers sweet nothings in her ear. Although in reality I do spend my days praising the budding artist, admonishing the would-be pugilist, instructing the aspiring writer and silencing the nap-needing whiner, I could use a few more nights of bouquets and whispers, sweet or otherwise.
As challenging as The Proverbs 31 Woman is to me, she has been a great teacher. Matthew Henry calls her example a “looking glass for ladies, which they are desired to open and dress themselves by.…”1 Scripture describes her as one who “looketh well to the ways of her household” (31:27), whose children call her blessed and whose husband praises her.
Like The Proverbs 31 Woman, we wives affirm ourselves as good homemakers when all members of our family are well taken care of. We must also remember that we, as members of the family, need care, too. The wife of Proverbs is no martyr. She knows her value is far above rubies. Her husband adorns her with praise and, as Matthew Henry observes, her “adorning will be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”2
Like our example in Proverbs, wives give of themselves continually to their families. But a wife must be careful not to neglect her emotional and physical bonds with her husband. A wife gives the best of herself when the best of herself is nurtured and appreciated. Connecting with the one who holds her heart is essential. If that connection is not strong, she is deprived of a source of strength and confidence.
Mary and Martha
I have also found great joy and peace in the lessons of two other women of Scripture. Martha and Mary have taught me much. Neither of these ladies was concerned with children, husband, or laundry, but they both teach us about taking time for the important things in life, those things that the Lord sends our way to flavor life so deliciously.
Martha teaches me that while keeping an orderly home is important, there are times when other things come first. Mary saw that and savored her time with Christ (Lk. 10: 42). She saw that “good part,” as Jesus put it, something that couldn’t be taken from her. Yet Martha did plan for Christ’s visit. So from Martha I learn that if Romance is coming to my house, she must be invited and planned for. She won’t just drop by. Spontaneity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The last spontaneous thing that happened at my house cost us $800 and left a hole in the wall.
A well-planned evening with my husband will help to insure that, A) I will be OK with the fact that all my housework might not get done, B) the children have been fed and put to bed on time, and C) I’ve spent the whole day looking forward to this night! I must have enough Martha in me to plan quiet evenings for just the two of us, yet be enough like Mary not to care if everything doesn’t go according to plan.
Like Mary, we need to focus on that good part, the time spent together that can’t be taken away from us. So by 7 p.m. all the housework that’s going to be done is done and even the whiners are in bed…bring on the roses!
After the birth recently of our sixth child, I planned an evening alone with my husband. I wrote him a poem and, yes, he brought me flowers.
Now we are eight
And there’s so much to do,
We used to make dates,
And I had time for you,
But with diapers and times tables
and floors that need mopping,
I’m all about children, schooling and shopping.
So I went to my Father, and asked in a prayer,
For some time spent with you,
That now is so rare,
I picked up His Word,
and He answered so sweetly,
While Martha admired my plans made so neatly,
Mary reminded me,
of that very good part,
That which won’t fade,
That which stays in the heart.
The daze of Work! Work! has lifted from me,
As I realize what God,
has intended for me,
A husband, six children,
and a home filled with love,
I take care of them all,
with strength from above.
1. Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (n. p: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), 1027.