Over at the Cafe today, we are chatting about our heritage as Christians- a Godly character trait we have "inherited" from family and that we would like to pass down to our children. I immediately thought of my sweet mother-in-law, Barb.
"Wives, in the same way (as Jesus) be submissive to your
husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over
without the words by the BEHAVIOR of their wives, when they see the purity and
reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead,
it should be that of your inner self, the unfading, quiet beauty of a GENTLE AND
QUIET spirit, which is of GREAT WORTH IN GOD'S SIGHT."
I met Barb when I began dating Brian at the tender age of 15. By then, I would have considered myself an independent young woman ready to set the world on fire. After all, I read Cosmo. I knew what "kind of woman I needed to be." I needed to "conquer" men, be better than them... at least that is what it said in all of the magazines. I watched Charlie's Angels.
So, when I was over at Brian's house I was APPALLED! I could not believe this woman! Sure, I liked her. She was sweet and wonderful. But, IN NO WAY WOULD I EVER BE LIKE HER!!!!!!!!!!!! She waited on her husband and 5 sons like a waitress! It was "Mama, get me a this, get me a that..." (and that was her HUSBAND!) Her boys just grunted! (kidding)
Anyway, I couldn't believe it. She served them. Dinner time was a perfect example. When she made dinner, she had all of the family seated, food, steaming HOT, drinks on the table, before she ever sat down. It always seemed like someone needed something before she sat down and the meal would be half over before she sat down! I would think, "why don't you get up and get yourself?????"
She was always last. She put others before herself. She served graciously. If there wasn't enough, she went without. She cooked, she cleaned, she took care of her family. She even washed the car! She was quiet. She was humble. She was gentle.She didn't "make her voice heard", at least in "public"- in front of me. She was definitely NOT a "Cosmo" woman!
I thought she was crazy. I thought she was weak. And, I often thought, "I will NEVER be like Barb! NEVER!"
I don't remember my mom being like that. I honestly don't remember one way or the other. I spent most of my time at Brian's house those years, so maybe she was and I didn't see it. I see those servant behaviors NOW in my mom. Maybe she has changed or maybe it is now that I see it. But,with Barb, I SAW it! There was another girlfriend that would also be at the house and she and I would often roll our eyes in agreement that this was RIDICULOUS!
I thought, "Barb, get a backbone! Barb, stand up for yourself! Is his leg broken???? Tell him to get up off of the couch and get an apple himself!!!"
This was all before I had a relationship with the Lord. And, before I had ever read 1Peter:3:1-3. My opinion has changed so much as God gives me wisdom and I see that this is exactly the woman I want to BE! I long to put my own selfishness aside and serve with such a gentle, sweet heart. What I thought was weakness is really strength! It is the strength to be a living sacrifice, a gentle and humble servant (like Jesus was and tells us to be!). It is the strength to kill the flesh and put others above yourself.
Now, I want MY family to see Barb in me. I long to be that quiet and gentle spirit. I want to be the 1Peter woman whose beauty comes from such a spirit.
Now, I see Barb as the Proverbs 31 woman. She exemplifies this woman. "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life......She is clothed with strength and dignity....She speaks with wisdom....Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her....Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
Now when I look at Barb, I see her with mature eyes of a wife and mother. I see that her 5 boys rise up and call her blessed. They respect their mother and love her. Every Mother's Day and birthday and Christmas they lavish her with expensive gifts. We all make sure to visit her and call her. All of her grandchildren (12 of them!) love her and respect her. Not one of her children or grandchildren would ever dare use swear words or bad language in front of her because of respect. Her husband loves her (they have been married 48 years) and cherishes her. They still go to coffee in the morning, out to dinner every Saturday night, church on Sunday, and they spend the winters in Florida. He takes care of her and still calls her "Mama" even though there aren't any children around anymore.
Yes, I want to my girls to be like Grandma Berta (and hopefully I am, too!)- a quiet and gentle spirit, humble and meek with a servant heart, putting others before herself. That would be a Godly character trait that worth "passing down."