Through various Bible reading plans and studies, I wound up reading Proverbs 31 three times this year. Yes — I willingly looked at myself through the lens of this mythically perfect woman not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. And you know what? I was not totally discouraged. Rather, I was challenged, in more ways than I expected.
One of the things I noticed in my readings of this chapter was this woman’s use of her time. She is a cheerful worker (v.13), she rises early (v.15), she is not idle (v.27).
Can I admit something to you? One of the things I covet most is my idleness. I want to sleep in. I want to sit on the couch and read or watch a TV show or nap when the kids nap. These things in and of themselves aren’t bad when rest is needed (more on that later), but they are my natural tendency. I give in. A LOT. I eat the bread of idleness whenever I get a chance and declare it good by telling myself, “I’m a mom, I deserve this.” But this year God has been convicting me of the wrongness of my habits via Mrs. Proverbs 31.
I’m sure many people reading this know of that one incredibly spirit-filled person in their lives who rises at some ridiculously early hour to read their Bible and spend time with God in prayer. I know a few people who do this and have always written this off. “It is NOT for me,” I’ve said. “I have KIDS.”
Every mom knows exactly what I’m talking about. Amen?
There is also the legitimate issue that the early morning hours are not my best. I am not a morning person (and that’s an understatement). If I were to rise early and read my Bible and pray, I wouldn’t be giving God my first fruits. I am my most alert and at my leisure during the kids’ nap time. But during nap time, if I’m not giving into my love of idleness, I’m usually working out, showering, and maybe doing one household chore if I can squeeze it in. So I do my Bible reading at night before bed. But if I’m honest with myself, this is giving God my last fruits. At the end of the day I want to spend time with my husband having an actual adult conversation without interruptions from our beautiful babies, and then I want to go to bed. God is getting the last MAYBE half-hour of my day.
This Sunday our pastor preached a great sermon on prayer that kind of kicked me in the rear. All of these things I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Proverbs 31 swirled around as I was listening to the sermon and I was really convicted that it was time to bring this part of my life and lay it on the altar for God to use.
The confluence of these convictions led me to come up with The Plan. I was going to rise at 6AM, work out, shower, and get going. I would do my Bible reading and prayers during nap time. After dinner and the kids’ bedtime would be 100% my husband’s and mine. I would go to bed early, and I would start all over again the next day.
Perhaps what happened next was entirely predictable. In a series of events that seemed pulled from the very pages of The Screwtape Letters, The Plan completely unraveled.
I went to bed a little later than planned because I wasted time on social media. Not a problem in and of itself, BUT, the baby woke up at 3:50AM. I got her back to sleep no problem, but I was wide awake until after 5AM. I knew what was happening even then – and I prayed that God would not let Satan (who had clearly sensed opportunity and was trying his best to take it) steal the day. I had to give in and set my alarm forward to 7:30. No working out. By the time we reached the kids’ naptime, I was completely wiped out. I had to sleep when they did. No working out, no Bible time. It will be done in the evening, not like I planned.
But even in a day like today there have been bountiful mercies. Some fights I was expecting with our toddler never emerged, both kids napped for a long time in the afternoon and I was able to get the rest I needed to catapult me through the rest of the day. As I sit here writing this, both kids are playing nicely on the floor and not harassing each other (don’t get me wrong, I know this will not last!) I’m discouraged by the way today went, but I know that Satan wants that discouragement to keep me from trying again tomorrow. By God’s grace, it won’t!