Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts on The Proverbs 31 woman

****Please excuse the formatting of this post. Once I cut and pasted from the USCCB website, the formatting went bonkers and I don't know how to fix it!

This is totally off the cuff- no google searches (okay, maybe one to see all kinds of blogs, programs, books dedicated to her- I promise that I didn't click on any of them), no books, no talks.  This is just where I'm at in my journey putting together what I've read and heard.

Before you even start you might want to do some relaxation here:

And get a pep talk about perfectionism here:

I've listened to Brene Brown's talks on youtube countless times this Fall.  There are about 4 longer ones that I've found.  Thanks Elizabeth Esther!  Anyway, Brene Brown is light, she's funny and her perspective is very interesting.  I'm sure some of her stuff wouldn't jive philosophically with our Church.  It's definitely secular.  But, she's helped me understand part of what to do with the 'in-between.'  How do you live in the in-between of what you want and what your life actually is?  She's helping me untie my thoughts and not be so ashamed of the life God has blessed me with.

First lets look at her (from USCCB website):

The words of Lemuel, king of Massa. The advice which his mother gave him:
What, my son, my first-born! what, O son of my womb; what, O son of my vows!
Give not your vigor to women, nor your strength to those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, not for kings to drink wine; strong drink is not for princes!
Lest in drinking they forget what the law decrees, and violate the rights of all who are in need.
Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to the sorely depressed;
When they drink, they will forget their misery, and think no more of their burdens.
Open your mouth in behalf of the dumb, and for the rights of the destitute;
Open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor!
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

1.   The whole proverb is advice from a queen mother to her son.  So, this is a woman with means.  She also appears to be healthy both mentally and physically.  Right there, if you have any infirmity  or poverty, you have a different state in life.  You might not have charges or have a prominent husband or have children or be able to obtain wool from afar.  

2.  This is the kind of woman that I am jealous of.  Hate to admit it, but it's true.  I look at their lives and think how easy they are.  But, really, this proverb is saying that it's a good idea for women with means to work all day and not be idle.  It's saying, get your hands dirty, know what's going on, be kind and look out for the poor while you're at it.  

3.  I've highlighted the parts that are related to station in life.  The first part of of the proverb is just a set up so really there are only a few lines that ALL women can relate directly to.

4.  Our savior said this (again from USCCB):

     “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      Blessed are they who mourn
      for they will be comforted.
      Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the land.
      Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be satisfied.
      Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
      Blessed are the clean of heart,
      for they will see God.
      Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called children of God.
      Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
5.  Then our savior said this: 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?....Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."
We are commanded not to worry!!!  Thank you, Jesus!!
6.  Finally, my favorite: Jesus leaves us his peace.  He wants us to have peace.  He doesn't want us to compare, he wants us to live the life he put us in.  The more I live, the more I believe the Serenity Prayer has all the answers to the main questions in my life.  After saying everyday for several years, it is sinking in:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I am enough.  My life is enough.  It doesn't have to look like the Proverbs woman.  But, she points the way for my heart: fear the Lord, think about the poor, be kind.  I can take what is important from her and apply it to my life.  But, what's most important is what Jesus said.  Not everyone's life will look like hers.  What do we do then?  We trust.  And we get through day by day.  He sanctifies all of us who can't be the Proverbs woman.  She can still be there and we can look to her.  He makes is okay that we aren't her.  Thank you Jesus for your word, your example, your sacrifice.  I love you.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Untying Knots

I'm working on 'untying my thoughts' in therapy.  My sweet therapist tells me mine are all bound up too tight.  I've taken seeking truth and not falling into the trap of relativism a bit too far.  It happened when I became serious about my faith.  I am uncovering all kinds of thoughts that I have that I didn't even realize were there. 

Catholic mothers shouldn't work outside the home.

Catholic families should be big. 

God will bless me if I follow the rules. 

I should be just like the Proverbs woman.  

Some of this came from Catholic media and how I interpreted it.  To be clear, I've gained far more than I've lost from Catholic media.  Like I said, these thoughts came from my interpretation of what I was reading and hearing.   However, I've learned that even with Catholic media, I must be cautious.

The best thing I get from Catholic media is the stories.  The blogs.  The stories of real women living out their faith on a daily basis.

It's there that I find women who work outside the home for whatever reason.  It's there that I find families of all sizes.  It's there where I find people who face adversity after adversity and through it all are faithful and loving.  It's there that I find women who strive to be that Proverbs woman, yet share the messes and mistakes of life.

Thank you all for sharing your stories and loosening the knots in my head.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, Pray for us