Ah, Mother's Day. The five of us shared breakfast together (Mommy's favorite meal), and the conversation turned to Proverbs 31. There is a tendency to focus tightly on verses 10-31 where the simultaneously daunting and challenging description of a worthy woman is found. Months ago the verses prior to this description caught my attention, and as the annual moment arrived when, as in verse 28 (!), "Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her..." there was a failure to savor the moment. (Probably because I am all too aware of how far short of the rest of the passage I fall!) Instead, a teachable moment replaced the accolades of my sweet Mister and our offspring.
It was to the verses before those cited as reflecting Mommy's Greatness (*coughing fit to cover peals of laughter*) that attention was drawn. (What kind of a mother fails to bask in the joy of a little Mother's Day praise!? Apparently, this one.) Onto the soapbox, and away Mom goes asking the family to please consider the charge before the Yay-Go-Woman verses to speak up for the mute, to step up for those of low status, and, "...to defend the rights of the afflicted and needy."
There are no limitations to who might be meant in these verses. The suburban mother who "has it all", but is hollow beneath her veneer is entirely needy. The little boy who has spent the past year at House of Hope in Honduras loved by a long-term volunteer who leaves today is about to be afflicted. As is the young woman who leaves him behind. Women trapped in a life of slavery in the sex industry are mute. Only their eyes may truly speak. It is not one of these individuals (representative of whole groups of people) in need, but all of "them"--- and too many more who call out for relief. The past weeks have been swallowed in a pervasive sorrow in response to prayers that God open up my eyes to that which breaks His heart. The temptation to squeeze eyes filled with tears tightly shut tamped down repeatedly.
Teaching my own children that they have the potential to speak up for those who are needy matters. To develop compassion and to have eyes that do not bounce off of poverty, hopelessness, or sorrow is preparing the next generation of Christ Followers. That they will be forces for Christ who spread the news of Him through simple care and kindness will not necessarily happen by chance. Teaching and training them to such as that is the kind of Mom I find in Proverbs 31. I just needed to back up and see what came before the woman whose value is beyond rubies to the words of a mother seeking to impart wisdom to her son for the expanded model which I hope to follow.