A Beauty To Unveil
A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy and in Him, she is enough.
She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort, that all is well, that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become.
On Monday morning, I read those words. I had spent a long weekend of striving. Striving to make it, feeling like I was barely holding my head above water. Taido was out of town and I was certainly not exuding anything close to a sense of calm.
But Monday was a new beginning. The start of summer.
I started it off right. I got up early to read those words. I even exercised.
Today I will begin to be this woman of beauty I’ve been studying about all spring. Today I will offer grace to be and the room to become.
I started the morning off with a big list of questions for the kids about what a great summer would look like for them. What do you want to do? To learn? To see? To eat?
One by one, they slowly woke up and begin filling in my list, some more enthusiastically than others. I was watching for them to open their hearts to me in this very small way, writing down a desire. A wish.
Since the age span in my house currently means that there can be as much as a five hour range of time when people get up, it has become difficult for us to start our day together, as we have done in summers past. Last summer I deeply grieved the way my older children don’t love our family summertime fun in the same way anymore.
But this summer, I told myself on Monday morning, this summer, I will be this woman of beauty and rest. I will navigate these different ages and needs with grace.
And of course, I failed miserably.
The calm of the early morning was a fleeting memory by noon.
I responded to grouchy teens by turning into a grouchy teen myself. I threatened and stomped and threw dishes in the sink. When everyone was done swimming after less than an hour, I dumped them angrily at home and took Simon back to the pool to play. (Gone are the days we can pass an entire morning together at the pool.)
When I came home, I cleaned the kitchen begrudgingly. (Doesn’t anyone else know where the dish soap is?)
Then I hid in my room, unclenching my fists long enough to be sad that I already want everyone over ten to go back to school. Why is my heart so dark? Where is this woman of beauty and rest? Why hasn’t she replaced the striving, controlling woman?
A striving woman invites others to strive. A woman who is controlling cannot invite others to rest, to be known. They will feel controlled in her presence. It won’t feel safe there.
A timely invitation to dinner somewhere else gave me the opportunity to pull up a chair with a friend and re-live the failures of the day. The long weekend.
She understood. She has similar dynamics in her house. I still felt sad, but not crazy. (A great improvement)
Is the whole summer going to be like this? I asked her.
The next morning, I left the kids with my mom early in the morning to spend the entire day with my Grandmother. A treat.
And, an escape.
By the time I collected them after dinner that evening, I was excited to see them again.
And vice versa. (I think)
And on Wednesday, I began again. Looking for that beauty to unveil. Reading again about that woman who is not striving and inviting everyone around her to strive. Praying for the grace I need to become her.
I went for a walk with a friend who is further down the road on the journey of parenting than I am. There is a hill we walk that rises sharply, levels out for a bit and then goes back down almost as quick as it rises.
That hill is your summer, she said. You’re just at the beginning of it now. But soon enough, you’ll be at the top (vacation?) and coming back down.
So, here’s to heading uphill at the beginning of summer.
To adventures in spanning the ages in my house. To failing and beginning again. And to looking forward to the downhill slide.
*quotations are from John and Staci Eldredge’s book Captivating, which I reluctantly agreed to read and study with my church small group and have ending up enjoying immensely.