Before we moved to the hinterlands, I used to love attending the monthly dinners where area homeschool moms gathered for an evening of food and fellowship. (Hi, Fray-Mill Ladies!) We would enjoy a scrumptious pot-luck dinner, then have a brief meeting led by our intrepid leader, Liz. One month we might discuss favorite school resources, another month - gardening techniques, potty training, or favorite children's literature. Usually around 10:00, the "early crew" would begin packing up dishes and hitting the road for home. But the "late crew" - the really tenacious hanger-on-ers - would be just getting started. After a break to start a fresh pot of coffee and run to the bathroom, we would pull out the chocolate and settle in for a late night of serious sisterhood. Often, I didn't make it home after a Moms' dinner until one or two o'clock in the morning.
Steve asked me once what made these get-togethers so special. He knew that although I'd be bleary-eyed from lack of sleep the day after, I'd also be emotionally rejuvenated and refreshed in my calling as a wife and mother. So, just what went on during those late-night sofa sessions? In a nutshell, simply being around other women who loved their husbands and their children encouraged and challenged me to do likewise.
None of us had perfect lives. We all had very real, sometimes painful issues - financial issues, relationship issues, health issues, homeschool issues. Some of us were dealing with defiant children, some with chronic pain or debilitating medical disorders, some with disengaged husbands. But we all held in common a sincere and practical love for our husbands and our children, regardless of the struggles and frustrations that were part of these relationships. To sit among so many women who faced the messiness of life with grace, who in the midst of sometimes heart-breaking circumstances consistently verbalized their affection for and commitment to their spouses and families, provided such a refreshing contrast to the litany of complaints and offenses given by so many women who find life less than happily-ever-after.
Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." These ladies could've spent the evening in a contest of misery - whose husband was the least attentive? whose kids were the least compliant? whose in-laws were the least supportive of their decision to homeschool? whose last doctor's visit yielded the grimmest prognosis? Instead, we had more a contest of encouragement - How could we better celebrate our husbands? better enjoy our children? deal more graciously with the critical in-laws? minister to one another in the midst of physical suffering?
I always left those meetings with a renewed awareness that this calling of wife and mother, although huge and hard and sometimes overwhelming, is indeed very good and has eternal value. And I learned from these women a little of the practical discipline of thinking about - and speaking - what is true, honorable, and excellent pertaining to marriage and motherhood. Yes, I do have gray occasions when I brood over all that is less-than-perfect in life, when my thoughts and my words recite discontent like a song stuck on "re-play". Sometimes, instead of confronting the sin in my own heart, I fall into the lazy habit of confessing the sins of others.
What a waste, when there is so much good to enjoy and celebrate! I pray that, like these dear sisters, I strive to speak the beautiful language of practical grace with ever-increasing fluency. And I challenge you, Dear Reader, to think on what is lovely in your spouse, what is commendable in your children...and then verbalize those thoughts, both to your family and to your larger circle of friends and acquaintances. Perhaps by doing so, you will encourage another sister or brother to go and do likewise!
1 month ago