© 2011 by Kathryn C. Lang
“This is not what I expected. Sometimes I don’t even like being around you.” My husband took the commercial break to drop these words on me. The show came back on and he was back in that box oblivious to the utter shock he had sent through my entire being.
The few months leading up to that moment on the couch had been devastating enough for me. My third pregnancy ended after a catastrophic reaction to medication only nine weeks into the pregnancy. While I had been sick with my pregnancy, my great aunt (whom I had developed a close relationship with) had also been sick fighting cancer and died shortly after. I missed spending any time with her in the end. On top of her death, a major family crisis fell on my shoulders. The regular issues with finances and daily living seemed to fall into the cracks of the major disasters I had covering over me.
But I had survived! God knew what storms were heading my way, and the Bible studies and sermons that I had been hearing before the events had prepared my heart and my mind to face the struggles.
Then there was my husband – unhappy and not even liking me. His comment was that infamous straw for me. My gut reaction was to hit him in the head and I believe that I could have proven justification particularly if the judge was a wife. The energy released into all of the problems and issues that had been swirling around me at that moment in my life had left me with nothing. I chose not to say a word – quite a feat for someone often referred to as a born talker. That one choice began my journey to a peace that I never expected to experience.
I found myself with the opportunity to look around a Christian bookstore later that week. I wasn’t sure what I wanted – maybe a marriage book, maybe a book about peace. The last few months taught me that no matter what I might face, the answer could be found in the same place. I was looking for MY answer.
The book that I discovered pushed me along my path to better understand and even appreciate the Proverbs 31 woman. Many people that hear me talk about the Proverbs 31 woman deeply dislike her. I used to wonder who had edited out the Proverbs 32 man. It seemed that in this area Scripture was a bit lop-sided.
I dug in deeper to the Proverbs 31 woman and her life. She seemed to have it all and to live it all without any trials or tribulations. Anyone that has spent any time living knows that problems have a way of coming even if they have to hunt you down to get to you. I soon discovered that her calm façade did not come from the LACK of problems but from the overflow of peace that stemmed from a heart of encouragement. The secrets between a life of joy and a life of turmoil could be found in Proverbs 31 and in the ideals that preceded her in the book of Proverbs.
Living and giving encouragement – Simple changes in my attitude and my actions began to provide me with the foundation I needed to begin living a life of encouragement and also to develop the tools that would make it possible for me to share that encouragement with others that I encounter each day.
Bearing fruit in all and through all – Insuring a good harvest for my actions, investments and life requires effort. The more I am willing to put in, the more I will find coming out. Good fruit comes from soil that is well prepared, seeds that are properly planted and cared for and a harvest that is brought in at the proper time.
Developing an attractive life – Each individual call on a life requires a certain physical condition. Climbing a mountain will not be possible if I am unable to walk up the steps at church without losing my breath. An attractive life comes from a temple that remains at its peak – not based on what “they” think might be right, but centered on the heart and the spirit. Creating an attractive life means investing the consistency to walk in the calling and being willing to sacrifice self for what is right for the temple.
Growing a life of wisdom – Wisdom comes from the practical application of knowledge on a daily basis. Experiences can provide wisdom for specific events. Study grows wisdom in unexpected places. Searching for wisdom and knowledge persistently develops a heart that is led by the Spirit and not by the limitations of the flesh.
Creating a life of organization – An organized life offers more. It creates more space. Organization opens up time and finances. The right organization can even make it possible for me to understand what is important in my life. Getting to a place of organization may not be easy for everyone, but it is necessary to reach a life extraordinary.
Becoming rested – A rested life means contentment and not a lack of action. Finding the right balance for my life requires understanding my own journey and learning to enjoy that journey no matter where I find myself on the path.
Giving it away – Giving requires more than relinquishing possessions. The art of giving comes from ears that listen, eyes that choose to see and a heart centered outside of self.
Finding the right focus – A life completely focused on God can change the world. The creation of a focused life starts by developing a habit of choosing better. Time only comes around once and then is gone forever. The focus for using time today will determine what tomorrow brings.
The more I grow in my walk the more I understand that Proverbs 31 reality. She was because of WHOSE she was. I can be the mom, daughter, wife, homemaker, finance maker, friend, teacher, and any other label the world throws at me because I have the CREATOR and MAKER living in me. My limits are only limited to His – and to my understanding and grasp of that possibility.
All of my days may not run as smoothly as I want them to run. As I write this introduction the kitchen sink taunts me with an overflow of dirty dishes. Life continues to move along. Time and events will shift as it moves. Stuff will happen.
The Proverbs life starts with a relationship and builds from that relationship to a place of settled peace. The key lies in that relationship. Without it the answer will continue to look like a mirage in a desert – dancing just out of reach and crushing the hopes of the dying man in search of just one drink of water.
My journey continues and each step brings me closer. Just the other day my husband introduced me to a group where I was speaking. He quoted Proverbs 31 Scripture. That day my husband was praising me at the city gates. I hold tight to that moment understanding that the steps I am taking today will continue to provide those moments in my life. Along the way I get the blessing of lifting up and supporting the people in my life, around my life and through my life.
Will you join me in the journey to find a life settled in peace and joy?