Several friends of ours have gotten divorces through the years. It surprised and dismayed us, for these seemed stable marriages built on the Rock. Instead, they crashed on the sharp rocks of contention and discontent that tore them and their children apart.
When I read Proverbs, the book in the Bible which I feel helps us to guide our lives with practical wisdom, I think about these couples, especially the ladies, and what verses might apply to their situations. Two in particular stand out: "The wise woman builds her house..." (Proverbs 14:1 NIV); "Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars" (Proverbs 9:1 NIV). We women are social architects who build for the future, working in the present regardless of present fads. As I read about the seven pillars, it occurred to me that we wives and mothers build our house--and home--on the seven pillars of:
1) Love, agape love that is unconditional. We are willing to give whether we get back in return or not. We are wise enough to weigh in on God's scales, not the world's. Sometimes the scales are not in our favor. Jesus died because of unconditional love and scales weighted down with misunderstanding and injustice and even hate. It must grieve Him when we demand our so-called rights, even in the face of known responsibilities. The only right Jesus had was to die for us. What a thought this is for us when we get discouraged at the seeming inequalities of life.
2) Faith, that grand power to believe without a doubt that God knows what He is doing, even if we don't at times. There are many days when we need this kind of faith. Robert Schuller calls it turning our millstone into a milestone and our scars into stars. Jesus said to Peter and sometimes He says to us: "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7. What enormous faith it takes to believe this, even when we are enduring while trying to be endearing!
3) Gratitude. A wise Anonymous said, "Gratitude is the memory of the heart." I believe this is one of the most important pillars for our home. At the wedding we take each other; unfortunately, after the wedding we take each other for granted. Appreciation helps to keep the love alive, and makes the road of life so much easier to travel, too. South has left this thought with us: "Look over the whole creation, and you shall see that the band, or cement, that holds together all the parts of this great and glorious fabric is gratitude." Surely it will structure our marriage.
4) Self-Respect. This may seem a strange pillar, but we women need to believe we are good people, too. We especially need to know that God uses His time on valuable cloth only; why should He waste time on rags? Along with the men, we women are made in God's image. But assertiveness isn't the answer to our quest for rights. Jesus' sole description of Himself is in Matthew 11:29: "...I am gentle and humble in heart..." I try to remember this when I want to insist and persist with what I think are my rights. Another aspect of this pillar, I think we need to be assured that our career as a wife and mother deserves every bit as much respect and admiration as any other career.
5) Patience. God cuts our cloth to fit His pattern. When we are anxious to run away from our responsibilities, it can help if we see Him carefully cutting and fitting us to His pattern--His purpose--for us. Especially in marriage He is daily cutting away our unsightly and unseemly strands. I have come to the conclusion after 48 years of marriage and children and grandchildren that this is exactly where our precious Father ties them all together finally!
6) Hope in and for our future. Without hope we lose sight of our opportunities. Can we truly believe that God wants us to be successful? Every now and then I read Jeremiah 29:11 to repriotize: "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." So God Himself gives us hope! Hope is so important on those days that become a daze. It is one of the constructive emotions that we so need, along with love and trust. I feel that courage is a large component of hope, for often it takes determination and perseverance to hope for better days and years ahead in the midst of such trying circumstances and what seem like trivials today.
7) Sacrifice. Let's face it, life costs much in commitment, particularly in marriage. It's really a 100-100 proposition. Whoever said marriage is a 50-50 proposition wanted to leave the back door open. Another thing, we can't afford to allow IOUs to add up in the drawer of our minds, only to pull them out during stress times. We might try putting lots of our own IOUs into the drawer, and forgetting about anyone else's IOUs. Contentment is finally removing the IOUS from contentious!
Father, thank You for abolishing our walls of hostility! (Ephesians 2:14.) You have given us the privilege of being women who build with You.
Patricia Erwin Nordman, Walking Through the Darkness