I have three blank pages left in my journal. And that always excites me. There’s just something about cracking open a new notebook that fills me with expectancy. Not only that, I’m supposed to hear a well-known Bible teacher speak this weekend. And I just know I’ll hear from God. Because whenever I hear one of this lady’s messages, it’s as if the voice of God parts her lips to deposit fresh words directly into my listening ear.
Just for me.
And me being me, I put two and two together. The upcoming conference along with a new journal seemed to underscore my thinking. For surely I’ll soon have a new word and a new direction. BUT…
I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate. Flash flood warnings may keep me from attending the conference.
What of that?!?
My current journal dates back to mid-July. I cracked it open just before attending the She Speaks conference (a huge writing event). I was full of expectancy back then, too, as I lovingly wrote out a portion of Proverbs 31 on the front….
At the time, I wanted this to be true about me. All of it. I longed to be cloaked with strength and honor as laughter cascaded from upturned lips. And when I opened my mouth, I wanted wisdom and loving instruction to fall gently on those closest to me. Oh, how I wanted to shrewdly watch over my household. And for my son, Levi, to rise and call me blessed.
Yes, I wanted it to be true then.
And I want it to be true now.
Instead, I am me.
And me being me, I just have to think this Proverbs 31 woman can only be true in fairy tales. Because who can really do all that she does?
Who is she, the P31 woman? Well, the heart of her husband trusts in her. And because she is she, he doesn’t lack any good thing. She rewards him with good and not evil all her days. Furthermore, she rises while it’s still night and provides food for her household. And she’s sturdy. Her arms reveal strength.
Despite being super busy at home, the P31 woman finds time to reach out to the poor and extends a helping hand. And it’s true for her. All of it. Strength and honor are her clothing. She does laugh at times to come. And when she opens her mouth, wisdom is found as she sends forth loving instruction.
No, she’s never, ever idle. Her household reflects that. And when her sons rise up, they do in fact call her blessed. For she is indeed a woman to be praised.
Because that’s who she is. The P31 woman.
And I want to be her.
Instead, I am me.
And me being me, I compare myself to her…
What does the P31 woman look like in modern times? Well, she’s ultra-cool and always looks trendy. No matter what. Good hair and shoes. No blemishes or bulges to hide.
Her laundry is always under control and her family has exactly what they need in closets or drawers. And amazingly, you can eat a piece of cake right off her floor. It’s that clean. How about that.
Yeah, her shopping cart is filled with all the right foods. Organic, no less. Veggies and whole wheat and fish and such. And when she makes a meal, the family sits together. Grace is always said out loud and bowls are passed. The family shares their highs and lows and she really listens. And when something is askew in her child’s life, she always has the right words to make things better.
Of course she recycles. It’s her responsibility. And of course her kids participate in all the programs and sports. It’s her duty to help her children become well-rounded and sociable. And despite keeping an overloaded calendar, she always seems to look rested. She stays calm and peaceful. Always.
And when her kids act up (if they act up), she knows exactly how to handle them. If the need arises, she surely knows how to administer discipline.
And for this reason, her children respect her.
They rise up and call the modern P31 woman blessed.
Oh, how I’d like to be her.
But instead, I am me.
And me being me, my life resembles none of the above. At all.
My shopping cart doesn’t look so good. Like tonight when we went to prepare for the potential flash floods and hurricane. Yep, all the necessities there.
And my house hasn’t been so clean lately. I do my best to keep stray things off the floor and yet, small pieces appear hourly. Just days ago, Annabelle found a tiny bit of dried leaf and tried to eat it. She then started gagging and choking. Honestly, I don’t think she could breathe.
So I fell on the floor beside her and she kept making retching motions. I patted her back and started screaming out, “Jesus!” And finally, it came up along with throw-up. Down her shirt, on my arm and pants. Afterward, she was fine. Me? A mess. Because I totally panicked.
A few weeks back, Levi had an ENT visit. And me being me, I tried to ultra-prepare. I actually charged an old cell phone so Annabelle would have something to entertain her while I tended to Levi and the doctor. Well, turns out you can still make a 911 call even if the phone doesn’t have a plan.
Annabelle delighted over the electronic device when the voice said, “911, what’s your emergency?” Of course, the doctor chose that moment to walk in. And me being me, I stood still for a second not sure of what to do first.
I grabbed the phone, “I’m so sorry, doctor, my daughter just called 911” The voice repeated… “What’s your emergency?” I explained. Of course, I’d tell my thirteen month old daughter that 911 is for emergency calls only. “Yes, yes, sorry and good-bye.”
Annabelle shrieked the whole time so I gave her my necklace. Another illicit toy, as I call them. This she managed to break so a hundred little beads went all over the floor of the exam room. And the doctor? He didn’t even acknowledge the chaos. Just examined my son and carried on a conversation with me as I hunched over the floor picking up beads…
I’m taking this Bible study called Unglued. The last chapter mentioned the negative labels we carry and encouraged the reader to think of some. I thought of bad mama. That’s the badge I’ve worn for years now. Ever since Levi was young.
And though my house can be messy and my shopping cart could use a few more veggies, those aren’t the reasons I wear that badge. No, it has to do with discipline. Or rather, the lack of discipline. See, I just hate to say no. In every way imaginable.
It began when I was young. I never said no to my friends when I wanted to. Even when I knew something was wrong and feared the consequences, I chose to go with the flow. No just wasn’t part of my vocabulary. Not as a child, or a young woman, or even now as an older woman.
At forty-two, seems as if I still have trouble saying it. To myself when I want to indulge in a treat. Or to someone I want to please when I know I’m too tired or my calendar is too full. But most importantly, to my children. I’ve been remiss in using this most powerful word with them. No.
Like Annabelle and her illicit toys…
I use whatever I can to buy me a few minutes. A watch or a toothbrush. Something to occupy her time so I can do the thing I need to do. Or want to do. I’ve resorted to phones and remotes if it’ll afford me five more minutes. However, I don’t always want her to have those things.
And so later, when I want to say no, she’ll be confused.
And then there’s Levi…
He’s the one. See, he’s already nine years old. And the truth is, he doesn’t seem to respect me very much. A few weeks back, I was on a rant… No, it wasn’t loving instruction that fell from my lips. Rather, shrill condemnation and fury. Because I was at my wit’s end.
“You don’t respect me, do you!” (me to Levi)
“You don’t?” (surprise on my part he admitted it) “Why don’t you?”
“Because you say I don’t.”
That’s when my senses returned. He was simply repeating what I had said. So I asked if he knew what the word meant. No, he didn’t. I told him that if he respected me, he’d care about what I have to say. That my words would mean something to him. That I’d matter. And he assured me they do. And I do.
And yet, his actions and mannerisms seem to convey otherwise.
Unlike the P31 woman, my son does not rise up and call me blessed. But the thing is, I haven’t given him a reason to.
find out what it means to me
I’ve indulged my boy. From the beginning. As a tiny tot, too much TV when I needed more time to answer work emails. And as he grew, I let him get away with more than I should have. I had a light hand. Very few spankings. I said yes when I should have said no. And as time progressed, he started listening less and less.
So I got louder and louder. I began demanding that he respect me. I swear, I’ve even stamped my foot. Just like a child.
So unlike the P31 woman. So unlike the she and her I want to be.
But so much like me.
And me being me, I hear the voice of God. He whispers the word respect in my ear. For it’s tied to discipline. And the word no.
And the wonder of it all is, it means love.
Because when you use the word no, you’re really saying I love you.
Do not despise the LORD’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12
In perusing the pages of my journal, I found the word RESPECT no less than four times. So I decided to look it up in the Bible. I was led to Hebrews 12:9 which says, “Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them.” And so I see. Truth. But this isn’t the first time I’ve been here.
About six months ago, I was right here contemplating all this. My son and how I handle discipline. And back then I knew what to do.
However, I forgot what I learned…
See that you do not reject the One who speaks… Hebrews 12:25
Truth is the relationship I have with my son is so much like the relationship I have with my heavenly Father. A mirror image. I want my boy to listen to me. To acknowledge my words. And most importantly, to do what I say. But so does God.
And God told me then and He tells me now… discipline your child!
Because no means I love you. When I say no to the donuts, I practice self-discipline and love myself. When I say no to overstuffing my calendar, I’m loving my family. And when I say no to my son, I’m loving him.
So I have a choice… I can indulge my children. Or discipline them.
I can’t help but think of her. The P31 woman. What would she do? Makes no difference, I guess. For I’m not her. I’m just me…
me being me
I’m disappointed about the weather. See, I really want to go to that event Saturday. Poised for a fresh word from God. A new journal at the ready. I wondered about that today, though. I thought why would God give me a new word when I still haven’t got the last one right. Because it was at least six months ago when He told me to discipline my child.
But you know… that’s what I did.
Today, I was firm with my son. And a weight was lifted. Because I know I did the right thing. The thing God bids me to do. Thus, I showed respect to my Father. And one day, my son will thank me for it. Because he’ll know he’s loved.
And if I continue the way I’m going, it might all come true after all. I may actually become the woman I read about. The mama I want to be.
Me will become she…
And like her, I’ll open my mouth with wisdom. Faithful instruction will be on my tongue. And my children… for it’s all about them, anyway.
They will rise and call me blessed.