Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Proverbs 31 Reflection: Verse 12

"The Confession" by Dicksee

"She brings him good and not evil all the days of her life."

There aren't many wives out there, I think, who would wish to bring evil to their husbands. I mean, unless you're a real harpie, you're not sitting around plotting murder or theft against your spouse.

Of course, evil is a word that we like to think of only in its extreme senses in today's society. We like to imagine that evil only encompasses those things which are really evil, unequivocally evil in every age, every society, and every faith. But, for a Christian, evil = sin. In fact, in my Bible, there is a footnote which innocuously clarifies this verse as meaning that the ideal wife will bring her husband "prosperity and not adversity" throughout her life.

Hm...how many wives are queens at bringing adversity down upon their husbands? I can think of quite a few more than those who are maliciously plotting "evil." One of them is typing this post. Though, admittedly, I'm trying to minimize the adversity and maximize the prosperity I'm sending Brian's way.

How can we fill our husbands' lives with adversity?
  • By making unwise purchasing decisions, especially if we're racking up debt to do it.
  • By complaining about the things that we have or that he does, or by beleaguering him for the things that we want or the things that we want him to do.
    By challenging his authority in front of our children.
  • By criticizing him to our mothers or friends or by doing so in public. By making things harder on him when we didn't need to.
  • By undervaluing our chastity, through immodesty, flirting (even playful, purportedly platonic flirtations), ogling movie stars, or lusting over characters in romance novels, and especially by becoming intimate (even emotionally) with a member of the opposite sex.
  • By badgering him or jumping to unfair conclusions.
  • Even by stubbornly refusing to take out the trash because it's his job, and he's the one who agreed to do it, even though we know he's going to walk in the door from work and be distracted and forget again because he's just "that kind of guy."
  • By resenting him.
  • By being quick to anger and slow to forgive.
What do you think? Sound a little more familiar than schemes of murder and theft? Remember, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list. Spend some time thinking about the ways you've brought adversity into your own marriage. Here's a hint: think about those thing that continually come up during arguments discussions. It probably won't be the event that sparked it but those little niggling issues that come up again and again once the sparks start flying.

Alternately, how can we start to cultivate "good" or "prosperity" in our marriages?
  • Through prudence, especially with finances and child-rearing.
  • By cultivating an attitude of joy and peace in our hearts and an atmosphere of joy and peace in the home. Honestly, you'd be amazed how much "good" this does to your husband--and to your entire family, including you. Yes, you can choose this, by the grace of God. Even on the hard days. I'll admit, though, that it is tough sometimes.
  • By choosing to think the best of your husband until given explicit cause to doubt him.
  • By supporting him, even when he makes mistakes and screws up--and not broadcasting those mistakes far and wide to friends, family, or anonymous trolls on the internet.
  • By choosing to value our chastity as a great prize. Sirach 26:15 says, "Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person." Think about it. Better yet, pray about it.
  • By looking after the health and well-being of our husbands and our children.
  • By helping our husbands to reach their goals. Remember, you were created to be this man's ezer, his holy helper. He needs you. So, find out what he needs from you and then give him a willing hand to aid his efforts. You will both be exponentially blessed.
  • By being slow to anger and quick to forgive, just as our Lord is with us.
I find that praying the Lord's Prayer regularly helps me in my endeavours to bring my husband good and not evil, prosperity and not adversity. After all, it is only through the strength of God that any of us is able to avoid evil and continue steadily upon the path of righteousness.

8 comments:

  1. Uh-oh. I was looking at the list ways to fill one's husband's life with adversity and thinking, "Check. Check. Check. Check." Not a good sign, but definitely what I needed to read. It's amazing how easily I fall into negative behavior patterns without consciously choosing to do so. Cultivating prosperity in marriage takes forethought, prayer, and serious dependence on God -- all things I need to work on. Thank you so much for this post, Bethany!

    Blessings,
    Luci

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  2. Don't worry, Luci! There's a reason I was able to come up with that list ;-) I've either done or repeatedly still do most of those things. You're right. So much of it is habit. The good news is--behavior can be changed! By the grace of God and by good old fashioned diligence.

    In Christ,
    Bethany

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  3. What a beautiful reflection ~ I love to read other people's thoughts on Proverbs 31 :) I haven't visited for ages (sorry) and am so glad I came tonight!

    I too have a selection of meditations on Proverbs 31, here, in case you're interested: http://bloomingathome.wordpress.com/category/proverbs-31/

    Autumn xx

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  4. Bethany,

    Your words about loving, honoring, and respecting our husbands inspired me before Ben and I married, and they continue to inspire me almost a year into our marriage. Before we married, I began to work on the concept of never speaking ill of my husband to anyone after reading your words about it, even if it was in a joking manner---and you know, something as small as holding one's tongue instead of joking about his driving skills or something of that nature, and instead speaking only words that honor him, truly cultivates respect and trust in our relationship. And, to boot, he's told me how much he appreciates that. You have a gift for writing about this amazing sacrament and vocation.

    Prayers,
    Chloe

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  5. I'm loving (and learning from) this series of reflections!

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  6. A great (if - as you say - sometimes hard to follow) recipe for a happy marriage and a lovely description of the role of a wife.

    It' also good to see reference to the importance of chastity which - it seems to me is a much neglected word and a sometimes forgotten virtue !

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  7. Remembering your previous post about the MLS-listing and how it made your husband feel, I bit my tongue on a car ride through a neighborhood of Victorian houses a few days ago. I almost said to my husband how nice the houses and wrap-around porches were, but I don't want him to think I don't appreciate our relatively plain, 2-bdrm condo.

    The comment wouldn't have been envious (I wouldn't want to clean, repair or heat a big Victorian)but I could see how a man might have a little pang upon hearing that. It would be like if we went to a dinner party and he said, "Wow, that Jane sure is a great cook! I can't believe how wonderful this dinner is! Ooooh, and she made her quiche crust from scratch, WOW, you can really taste the difference. Huh, so THAT'S what it's supposed to taste like" and so on. Even if he had no intention of comparing her to me, eventually I'd dump the bread basket on his lap. (Just kidding...maybe.)

    -Maryann (formerly Joslyn)

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