by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
(The word, virtuous, comes from the root, virtue, which is a highly masculine adjective related to courage and when used of a woman, of moral purity.)
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? (Prov. 31:10 NLT) Who indeed? This Scripture is often quoted on Mother’s Day and rightly so, but only if we remember it is the opening stanza of a well-crafted poem, and it is a composite. No woman living, I am convinced, has ever come near this description, no matter how well she may have lived.
Furthermore, little space is given to strictly ‘mothering’ tasks. Her children stand and bless her (vs. 28a) so I think it’s safe to say that the energy she gave to detail and the courage and strength she applied to the many aspects of her life were true of her dealings with her children as well.
One woman stands out above most others in history as an example of Proverbs 31. I’ve written about her before – Susanna Wesley. She spent most of her child-bearing years pregnant. She buried more of her nineteen children than the number of those who survived her. Her long life was characterized by tragedy and grief. Yet, we give her credit for leading one of the first recorded Sunday Schools. She was highly educated (for women of her day) and a self-taught, first class theologian. We know her as the mother of John and Charles, two of Christian history’s most notables. She is also known as a woman who rarely missed a day’s quiet time, even if she had to put her apron over her head to achieve it. Finally, we give her credit for skillful scheduling that ensured each of her growing children a time alone with her every week.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. (vs. 26) Here we have something to work with! If I remember correctly, I have little to brag about in this department. How often I failed to relate to my growing children with the civility and courtesy I gave to those outside our inner family circle. I imagine most mothers can identify with me because kindness can be in short supply behind closed doors in a family’s dealings, one with another.
Family living can be likened to washing dishes by hand. Those greasy pans need both hot water and an adequate supply of soap. Within families, lives are often covered with the tacky issues brought on by selfishness, fatigue, fear, and sibling rivalry, to name a few. God usually supplies the hot water. What a mother must use is generous amounts of kindness, dispensed by the cleansing wisdom often only available from her loving, Heavenly Parent to scrub the grease away. It’s no easy task!
Traditionally, it is the mother who sets the tone that characterizes her home, and often this reflects the message she and her husband send by their actions with each other and with the children. Wise moms know that their youngsters learn powerful lessons from watching adult behavior. So kindness, like many godly character traits, may be more often caught than taught.
Looking back to my formative teens, some seventy years ago, I give thanks for my sweet, Norwegian stepmom, Eleanor. Never attempting to replace my birth-mother, she took responsibility for this gangly, self-conscious ninth grader and her younger sister. She gave us the security of a home that she managed with quiet dignity, devotion to our father, affirming love for us all, and kindness.
Her brand of kindness, as I remember her, was not used to manipulate us, but rather to bless us, her first two children who came to her ‘half-baked’ as it were, but still in need of her loving touch. I deeply mourned her untimely death and thank God, now, for the gift of her memory.
Throw kindness around like confetti (Selected)
KidZ at Heart values the part the family plays in enabling children to fulfill their role in God’s plan.