The toddler isn’t sleeping through the night right now. You realize how painful this is, don’t you? For months, we’ve been in a rhythm: She goes to bed, I go to bed, and neither of us wake until morning.
I like this rhythm. It’s nice. It makes me nice. And it makes me pretty. Don’t try to tell me I’m wrong.
So the fact that she’s started waking up again in the middle of the night is perplexing to me. It seems she’s discovered that having mom all to herself in the quiet dark is cause for a party. Now, after two consistent weeks of regular nighttime wakings, I am no longer pretty, and I’m struggling to be nice.
Mostly, though, I’m just so weary.
When Mom grows weary, it seems that the whole house follows suit. On any given day, I have more to accomplish than I have hours in the day. I’m usually pretty good at chasing these things down and at least putting a dent in my to-do list. But when I’m tired?
Well, let’s just say I drink more coffee and watch more Netflix. It seems that for the last few weeks I’ve consistently been a step behind in life.
Last night, she made it to 4:30 before waking. Once I got her settled back down, I stumbled back to bed only to realize that there really wasn’t time to keep sleeping. So I pulled myself from bed and tried to determine what task I should tackle first before the rest of the kids woke.
As I shuffled to the kitchen, I passed my big, yellow chair. Beside it sat my Bible. That seemed like a good place to start the day. I cracked open the pages, and they fluttered open to Proverbs 31.
“Really, Lord?” I whispered, rolling my eyes slightly. Because honestly, is there any more generic passage of reading for an overwhelmed woman than that of Proverbs 31?
But, it was open and I was there, so I decided to read over the familiar words anyway.
This is a passage of scripture that has always inspired and baffled me. How does she do it, this Proverbs 31 woman? I know that this wasn’t the picture of a single woman, but rather the composite of a woman. But still. I’m forever dropping the ball, and I don’t even have to sew my children’s clothes from woolen materials!
But on this morning it hit me. As I read through the passage for the hundredth (thousandth? millionth?) time, my mind wandered back to the Maasai women in Tanzania. I thought of the hut built by a woman’s hand, and the village of women who birth the babies and raise the children, kill and prepare the food. What strength they possess.
Then my mind drifted to the stories of the German women who picked up shovels and rebuilt their cities after the war, and the women of America who entered the factories and kept the country running while our men fought.
Then I thought of my own mom, faithfully raising and loving two children. I thought of her bringing in her sister’s kids because that’s what family does, even when it’s hard. I thought of the way she flew half way across the world to stay with my children for eight days so that I could have an adventure.
And I read Proverbs 31 again with hot tears in my eyes because it finally hit me. Proverbs 31 isn’t the story of one woman, nor is it a composite of all the things I should be.
Proverbs 31 is the story of women – of womanhood. It is everything that we are, the collective whole of us. It is the strength that God knit into the very fiber of a woman’s heart.
This is the strength that carries a woman through back breaking labor, through childbirth and child rearing, through midnight feedings, never ending schedules, and days that stretch into nights with little or no opportunity to rest.
This is the strength that allows a mother to tap into her hidden (or not so hidden) creativity, making beautiful things in the cracks of her day when children are napping or off at school.
The natural strength of a woman combined with the supernatural strength of the One who created her is an altogether beautiful combination. And as I read, I felt strength return to my weary soul.
Proverbs 31 isn’t the unattainable goal of womanhood. Oh, no.
Proverbs 31 is a celebration of all that God has made us to be.
It is the beautiful merging of His great love for us, and His grace to work in and through us if we’ll submit and follow His lead.
Even amidst all the busyness – all the things I want to do, and the things I have to do – amidst the sleepless nights, the days that seem to have no end – the dreams I long to see come true – all of it is wrapped up in the story of Proverbs 31.
Do you see it?
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31: 25-26