By Rosanna Emenusiobi
(Continued from the last edition)
Mother as a “Thermostat”: Creating the Atmosphere of a Home
Elizabeth George, the author of a best-selling book, A Woman After God's Own Heart, used the thermostat imagery to emphasise a mother's onerous task to create a healthy atmosphere in the home. According to her, creating the atmosphere of a home is very much like using one's thermostat to regulate the temperature inside one's house. One decides on an ideal temperature for one's family and set the dial to a comfortable level. The thermostat maintains the desired temperature. If the house starts to get hot, the thermostat automatically turns on cold air to cool it off. If cold air moves in, the thermostat receives the signal and gets busy warming the house. So mothers are like thermostats. If they want the atmosphere inside their houses to be warm, cheerful, loving, positive, and constructive, they assiduously work on it. If things start to get hot (hot words, hot tempers, hot emotions), a mother sets about to bring in cooling wore (a soft answer turns away wrath (Prov. 15:1) and words of peace (the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace – James 3:18). Likewise, if things starts to cool off (cold hearts, cold feet, cold shoulders), a mother gives a good word that make hearts glad (Prov. 12:25), remembering that “a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance (Prov. 15:13, and that “he who is of merry heart has a continual feat (Prov. 15:15).
Mother, when people walk into your house, their mood change. The atmosphere of your home reflects peace and well-being. People senses the presence of God in your home, which is an oasis for thirsty, dear souls. This is because your home is more than just your physical house; it is your household. It is the heart of those who surround you. It is the way everyone under your roof is affected by your presence. You set the stage for how everyone feels – husband, children, friends, even yourself. The flavour your spirit brings extends beyond the idea of the walls you live within. When you arrive home the whole atmosphere changes. Suddenly the house comes alive. Everyone is happy and excited.
Mother Building a Refuge
As the centre of family, the home ministers to our family far more than we might imagine. What a blessing it would be if every member of the family knows that there is one place on earth where everything will be all right. Home would truly be a wonderful haven and refuge for them: a hospital, a font, a church. Mothers who make their house a guest house, a restaurant, a hostel, a dormitory, a hotel, a visitors' room – are missing the point. A home can never be any these. A home that is what the name is permanent. And what a worthwhile goal for mothers – to build the kind of home which strengthens and renews each family member. Children and husbands benefit from their mothers' building efforts.
According to one counsellor, “secure home life tends to reduce frustration and uneasiness in a child's life, and it gives them the ability to cope with pressures more effectively.” Still on the importance of a home for holistic well-being of members, “home is important to a person to help him or her get well, as well as being important for family times together if someone is dying. In either case, beauty and familiar surroundings have effect on the physical, psychological, and even spiritual state.” Even the word, refuge, brings calmness to heart and soul.
Mother Tearing Down Her Own Home?
The second part of Prov. 14:1, says: “a foolish woman pulls it [house] down with her hands”. To pull down a home means to break or destroy it, to beat or break it down – to ruin it. How does a mother tear down her own home? How can she be a demolition machine or bull-dozer? Addiction to negatives such anger, hot temper, controlling, domineering spirit, etc. Anger out control throws, slams tears, and rips. It also break things as well as rules. In other words, it speaks works that break, destroy, ruin, and kill. Another way a mother can break her own home today is through “too-muchness”: too much scolding, too much TV, too much reading, too much Internet, too much shopping, too much time with friends, too much time spent on the phone, too much staying in the Church (attending Meetings of various pious groups, neglecting her own home), too much leadership positions, too much protective attitudes towards husband and children, too much fashion (clothes, shoes, jewelries, makeups), too much partying or clubbing, too much appetite for food, too much high taste, etc. Mother, avoiding any attitude that does not build keeps your home intact.
Part of tearing down a home is when a mother makes the house uninhabitable for her husband. A mother can make life so miserable for her husband that he would rather abide in the desert. Her attitude can eat up her husband and completely destroy him. She can choose to use the power she has to make him or break him.
As a wife and mother, or a godly woman, the man in your life should feel that his heart, his secrets, and his emotions are safe with you. You should be the one to contribute to regulating emotions and decisions, cooling him down when he is hot under the collar, and fanning the flame to stir up his passion for God, his ambitions, and his home. You should be your husband's haven of consistency, the one who is always there, the one he can always count on. He should not come home every day to find a different woman who he cannot figure out living in his house. He should have access to you heart, your softness, your reassurances, and your counsel all the time, and vice versa. He should be refreshed in your presence. And because of your motherly heart, he wants to be the best he can be for you. He will put away anything that could sully him in your eyes. Nothing on the face of the earth affects a man like the softness of a woman. Of all the things that he may acquire in his lifetime, nothing can bring him more joy or pain than to be welcomed or spurned by the woman he longs after. The Song of Songs captures vividly this reality:
You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes… How delightful in your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue --- You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain … You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon”. (Song of Songs 4:9-12, 15).
As Michelle McKinney Hammond rightly said, nothing affects a man as deeply as an encounter with a woman who has [motherly] womanly qualities.
Mother: The Virtuous Woman
The glories of a good woman (mother) are skillfully portrayed in the book of Proverbs. Nothing can add to the sheer beauty of the Bible portrait of the virtuous woman. Summarising as it does the noblest attributes of the wife and mother, this the Bible's most perfect picture of the ideal woman. Various versions of the Bible call her: “a virtuous woman”, “a capable woman”, “a woman of worth”, “a worthy woman”, “a woman of noble character”, “wife of noble character”, “an excellent wife”, “a capable woman”, “a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman”. Although this woman was not a real woman but an ideal one, she does typify almost all the admirable qualities of the actual woman today, especially our mothers.
A mother's chastity, her charity, her diligence, her efficiency, her earnestness, her love for her husband and children, even her business foresight, are brilliantly illuminated in words that rise up majestically from the page. But light is beamed more upon her godliness. This quality, the Bible seems to say, is what gives meaning, purpose, and direction to her life. So inspiring is this passage that I would like to quote it verbatim here (New American Bible Revised Edition):
A woman of worth. Who can find her? Far beyond jewels is her value.
Her husband trusts her judgment; he does not lack income.
She brings him profit, not loss; all the days of her life
She seeks out wool and flax; and weaves with skillful hands.
Like a merchant fleet, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household,
a portion to her maidservants. She picks out a field and acquires it;
from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigour. She enjoys the profit from her dealings; her lam is never extinguished at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers pull the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She is not concerned for her household when it snows, all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her own coverlets. Fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates, and he sits with elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not et the bread of idles.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her;
“Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.”
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Acclaim her for the work of her hands, and let her deeds praise her at the city gates. (Prov. 31:10-28).
Many women, especially feminists, view this passage as stereotyping women – that the place of women is in the home – doing household chores. However, experience shows that women can combine household chores with leadership positions both in the world and in the Church. No matter what people say today about women – the passage above depicts a mother's femininity, maternal instinct, and her ability to combine jobs and succeed in them – whether in the home or outside of the home. In other words, women (mothers) worthy of the name are managers, administrators, philanthropists, business women or traders, impartial, seamstress, exporters, gardeners, landladies, caretakers, industrious, counsellors, speak with wisdom, contribute economically to the home, far-sighted, God-fearing. The list could go on and on. She engages in numerous and diverse activities. Yet all of these are directed toward the well-being of her family: husband (vv.11-12), her children and maids (vv.15, 21, 27); and herself (v.22). In fact, for mothers, the centre of gravity is her home.
NDI NNE, MAAMA! NDI NNE DIBANU MMA OO!
(to be continued)