I majored in English way (way,way,way) back in college and in the process of earning that degree, I got to take some really great classes. Like Modern European Lit, Poetry, Creative Writing, and American Lit. I also had to take some not-so-great classes like Grammar (I am horrible at grammar, so don't look too closely at my sentence structures here!), English Lit (Chaucer about killed me), Shakespeare (I confess: I love literature but do not enjoy Shakespeare. Is that just wrong, or what?!), and Literary Criticism. Part of why I didn't like some classes and loved other ones was partly been due to the professors who taught each, but even if my favorite prof had taught Chaucer I still wouldn't have enjoyed it! Mostly my like/dislike was based on my enjoyment of the subject matter. I had to take two different Literary Criticism classes, because let's face it, when you are an English major at a liberal arts college, all you really do is read a ton of books and write papers on them, which basically boils down to critiquing them. And although I loved reading books and writing papers on them (well, I loved the reading part) I have horrible memories of the Literary criticism classes.
It was the last class of the day and I can distinctly remember the anxiety/pressure I'd feel after getting an homework assignment, that I'd run lap after lap at the gym where I worked out. The act of learning how to critique literature was for some reason really hard for me. I am pretty sure I did fine in that class and most every other one, so maybe it was all in my mind. I think it is a learned thing, though--the be able to read something and look past the words on the page to see a deeper meaning or greater truth beyond the black and white, whether the author intended it or not.
I titled this blog entry, "Impacted" because it makes me laugh. I was in a class, one of my favorites, where we'd sit around in a circle and discuss the reading assignment from the previous class. The professor mentioned that whenever he heard a student say they were, "Impacted by something they read," it always drew to mind the medical problem of being "impacted"--if I remember correctly it was because his wife was a nurse. I thought that was hilarious because back in those literature classes students used that term "impacted" a lot. Ever since he told us that, I think of that every time I hear someone say that something they read or heard impacted them. (Bonus points to anyone from NNC who can name that professor!)
But sometimes its the correct word to use because what we read can have an impact on our life. Take for example, The Bible. It obviously does and should have an impact on our life. When I am reading it, I get grateful for all those classes in college to help me read into the text, because I think I "see" so much more than I would've just taking things word for word. And the cool thing about the Bible is that you can read the same text at different times and get something totally different out of it.
Here's what is "impacting" me right now...
I'm part of a group of stay-at-home mom's who get together for a bible study once a month on Friday mornings, and we're studying out the Wife of Noble Character in Proverbs 31:10-31. So I've been reading that text the past couple mornings and I'm amazed at what God is showing me and I thought I could share it with you.
This is what stood out to me on first read:
Proverbs 31:15 "She gets up while it is still night..."
verse 17 "She sets about her work vigorously..."
verse 18 "...her lamp does not go out at night."
verse 27 "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
What do all those verses have in common? This woman is a hard worker! If you read the whole text in chapter 31 about the Wife of Noble Character it talks about how she cooks/feeds her family, sews, invests, etc. She's like the ideal woman. How on earth could she "do it all" so well? These verses that I listed above show us how--She's probably organized in her scheduling. She gets up early and stays up late--she doesn't waste any of her time. The Bible says she "does not eat the bread of idleness." This made me think about how I think I don't have time to do it all sometimes, yet when I really scrutinize what I'm spending my time on, I realize that I'm "eating the bread of idleness". Yikes, that stings.
Because I am in the special situation of being a stay-at-home mom whose children are in school all day, I have a pretty flexible day. I definitely have work to do, but it's done pretty quickly without the kiddos underfoot. And the cool thing is, if I clean the house in the morning, it stays clean. (At least until the girls get off the school bus!). So it is actually possible for me to catch up with all the to-do's on any given day. Usually I have workouts, coffee times, bible studies or other appointments scheduled in there too, so that doesn't happen all the time. But still, I should be able to be caught up more often than I actually am. Why? Because I'm wasting time. It is so easy to sit down with my lunch and the laptop and start off reading blogs and checking in with friends on Facebook, but then it's hours later, my lunch long gone and I'm still at the table with the laptop. That, my friends, is me "eating the bread of idleness". And it's time for me to stop.
So, what, am I suppose to "work" all day long with no breaks? No hobbies? No! I think for me, it is realizing that there is a huge difference between being lazy/wasting time and relaxing/doing a hobby. Think about it this way:
What do my kids/husband gain when I spend my free hours playing some stupid game on the computer? Or watching Youtube videos? Or watching soap operas? Nothing.
Now, what do they gain if I've spent that free hour or two putting together our family scrapbook? Or reading a book that helps me be a better wife/mom? Or writing a novel/poem?
What about my friends? I could be making and/or writing in cards to give to friends/family and encourage them. I could be blogging a new favorite recipe that will be just the thing another Mom out there is searching for to make dinner tonight.
Those things are all still a break from the "work" of being a Mom, but they are so much more rewarding, not only for me but for everyone around me. Time is a gift that God has given me--I am so grateful to not have to work a 9-5 job outside of the home and I want to make sure I'm not taking that time for granted. So, I'm going to start working on being more like the Wife of Noble Character when it comes to my free time.
What about you? Have you read anything lately that's "impacted" you enough to make you want to change something? Have you ever read Proverbs 31? If so, what did you get out of it?