On this Mother's Day, I'm reminded of all it takes to be a mother. Since I'm not one myself, I can't say first-hand what that is, but having received the love of one of the best mothers a daughter can have, I have an idea. I've been the beneficiary of a mother's love from my grandmothers and mother-in-law, all strong and godly women. We all know a good mother when we see one...or do we??? Many of us would say someone is a good mother if she sacrifices for her children, and I wouldn't disagree with that. I'd like to challenge that notion with another question...at what cost? While you might think your current sacrifices are in the best interest of your loved ones, you could be setting up yourself, as well as them, for a hard road ahead. First, let's take a look at what the Bible says about "the virtuous woman."
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.
22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
So much could be said about this passage, but I want to focus on just a few things. We see where she is constantly working to care for her family, no doubt about that, but do we read between the lines and think about how she has the "energy" and "strength," as the passage states to get it all done? Notice in verse 15 she prepares and makes a plan, with help.
Without a plan she couldn't achieve her objectives. We are no different, especially in today's world with so many choices and all that we have to juggle. Because we're offered more choices, we often accept them without thinking about how we'll get it all done. You've heard, "If everything is important, nothing is important." It speaks to priorities, and we must plan for the most important things in our lives. Without a plan, failure is almost certain. Carve out a block of time each week to plan for the following week and don't forget to plan for your health and nourishment.
She had help. Now I know this one seems like, "Yeah right, I wish I had a servant or could afford to get help," but ladies, help comes in many forms. Sometimes it's asking your husband to help with the work load, especially if you both work outside the home; asking a friend to watch your kids while you get some downtime to later return the favor to her; putting the kids in "gym daycare" so you can get a workout in; and even involving your children in the plan and execution of it -you're teaching them life skills, Momma!
She ensured her family was nourished every day. This included herself because she was part of the family and had so much to achieve as well. I'm sure she didn't have all the convenience options nor the variety of choices we have today, and it's those choices that can bring harm instead of nourishment to ourselves and our families. It can be difficult to stay educated on all of the current nutrition trends, but one way to keep it simple is to live by two rules when considering what you're feeding yourself and your family: 1. Did it have a mother? 2. Did it come from the Earth? If the answer is no to either question don't eat it. God provided everything we need to nourish us. There are a few more nuances you can read about throughout my book and blog, but those questions ensure you're just eating real food that can prevent disease and give you the needed energy to thrive. Where do you think her strength came from? God and caring for herself. If you'd like some help with planning and preparing healthy meals, check out my 21 Day Meal Prep Challenge. I've done all the planning for you so you don't even have to think about it!
She didn't fear the future. This is mentioned both in verses 21 and 25. God plays the biggest role in giving us a spirit of faith and hope, instead of fear; however, planning can prevent fear. Have you ever stopped and looked at the people around you or listened to the news and start fearing that some harm would come to you or your family, that it was only a matter of time before you or someone in your family would be hit with some dreaded health problem? Dear brethren, I'm not intending to start or add to fear-mongering; this is our present situation we're faced with on the daily. What if we instead armed ourselves with the truth and learned how to care for our bodies, as good stewards of what God has given us? We can idly stand by and wait to be the next victim or we can start taking care of ourselves this very moment with the resources that are made available to us.
She had a good time. Verse 25 says she laughed before it states she wasn't afraid of the future. She was at peace with her plan as with her diligence and self-discipline to execute it such that she could also enjoy life without worry. "Happiness won't come where worry exists." (Ditch the Diet, page 130) I believe she made her health a priority. Her laughing to me translates today into a woman who takes time to do things she enjoys so she can maintain balance to keep going and giving. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 states that there's a time for everything, ups and downs, highs and lows, and it reminds me that when we expend our energy we must also seek an opposite balance of recharging our energy with rest and enjoyment. While we do have God's strength to help us, we're still human and must honor that part of ourselves. God made us to require rest and even taught us this in His creation when He rested on the seventh day (Do you really think He needed to rest?). Our bodies are amazing mechanisms if we would listen to them and not push ourselves beyond our own means. This is a skill that takes time to learn; it takes wisdom and discipline to say no to the things that might deplete your energy so you can be present and fully engaged in the lives of others when it counts.
She understood her true worth and above all she feared the Lord. She wasn't vain and didn't focus on the aspects of herself that aren't lasting and don't matter; however, I do believe that she was wise enough to take good care of herself so she could continually serve her family, without fail. By fearing the Lord she knew who was in control and relinquished that control to Him. I bet she prayed the serenity prayer (in other words) quite often, as she faced daily challenges. And while many things were out of her control, she focused on busying her hands with what was within her control and took charge of her own well-being and that of her family. We never talk about what's not in this passage or how today's virtuous woman would live, but I believe she would have to have some form of self-care regimen in place to have the strength and energy to get it all done.
We often mistake self-care for selfishness, but what is self-care really, if not a way to prioritize our health and well-being so that we can do more for others.
It's not about fading beauty or pampering ourselves, although there's nothing wrong with treating ourselves to nice things. After all, verse 22 states that "she dressed in purple linens and fine gowns" so she did maintain her appearance and thought enough of herself to dress in the finest clothing. When you read this passage you see a confident and decisive woman who loves others because she is loved. She understands she is worthy of the love of the Most High King, able to care for herself in order to better care for others.
Sweet Friend, while you may be the mother of little princes, remember that as a princess yourself (if you're a daughter of a king), you can't neglect your own health. What good are you to your children if you're sick, irritable, drained and depleted or worse, gone too soon because of a sickness that might have been prevented with more care and attention to your own health? And here's the biggest takeaway for a mother...
Your children are watching everything you do. When you make your own health a priority, they will learn to do the same. If you don't value yourself and see yourself as worthy of self-care, how will they?
Self-care is just as much about learning how to care for yourself as it is about resting and relaxing. Self-care is actually work; it takes effort, it's not all a bed of roses. If you're curious about what self-care really is and are ready to start making your own health a priority (mother or not), I encourage you to take my Self-Care Type Quiz to get your "Worthiness Score" and learn how to care for yourself based on your own, unique type.
Happy Mother's Day!
Be sure to take the Self-Care Type Quiz so you can learn:
-what makes you tick
-what areas need more focus
-how you need to grow your knowledge and skills
-how to maintain balance for more energy so you can do more for others.
Plus you'll get a list of lots of ideas to get you started!
In Love & Service,