|Link to image source. Art by Minerva Teichart|
"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." (Proverbs 14:1)
The first thing I thought when I read this was not of my hands - though that came later, too - but of my mouth. What are the words I use when I speak of my husband and my children? What is my tone when I speak to them? In a talk titled, "The Tongue of Angels," Jeffrey R. Holland, a modern-day Apostle, said this (after addressing some remarks to the men):
Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity … [burning] among our members.”
It's true, isn't it? The image of a turkey (I'm pretty sure I'm ready for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow) with it's feathers getting plucked out and squawking came to mind as I read this and pondered on the scripture and that quote. Elder Holland ended on a positive note by reminding us that though we can mame with our words, we can also build up and heal:
. . . So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be “perfect” men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.
I thought of the beautiful description of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 but especially verses 11-12 that say:
"The heart of her husband doth safely atrust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
A woman who is wise, builds her relationships up with her words and her family and associates are able to trust that their names are safe when spoken by her mouth.
In reading "no need of spoil" in Proverbs 31, and pairing it with "buildeth" in the Proverbs 14:1 verse, I thought of finances. Building up nest eggs. Being financially responsible as well. Being prepared. Yes, wise women help with that, too.
My thoughts then turned to my hands and the work of homemaking, which is both temporal and spiritual in nature:
General Relief Society President Elaine L. Jack said, “To a Latter-day Saint woman, the word homemaking has great significance, since every task performed in her home, whether she lives alone or with others in her family, is done in the framework of eternity, and this demands the best we have to offer.”
President Jack continues, “Homemaking includes the warm family relationships, and it also includes the constant concern of every provident homemaker, ancient or modern, for feeding, clothing, and caring for that family.” (Address given in Lethbridge, Canada, 22 April 1978, p. 6.) - Quote from this link.
The word, "buildeth" also summoned up in my mind my favorite scripture, from the Book of Mormon, Helaman 5:12.
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Truly, building up a house that will last, requires that we build it on the Rock - or Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:24 and also 3rd Nephi 11:39-40)
Our homes must be built on the foundation of Christ. In my mind, there is no better example of what my home should be built up to exemplify, than God's holy temples. In the Bible dictionary it says this about temples:
A wealth if incredible and insightful instruction can be found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 109. That section contains the revelatory prayer offered up at the dedication of the Kirtland, Ohio temple dedication. I've been studying and pondering that section this year, and trying to see what I can better incorporate into our home and its management.
Building up a house in my mind, means deliberate and careful action. I love the words of the wise General Relief Society President, Sister Julie B. Beck - one of my heroes - from her wonderful talk, "Mothers Who Know":
Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.
The word "house" in Proverbs 14:1 made me think of not only my own home and family, but also the "House of Isreal", and the "House of Faith." I build those up, with charity:
Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 "Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith. . ."
Truly, part of my divine calling and mission as a woman is to become one who builds:
To help another human being reach one’s celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting.
I have had some personal trials with health recently that have been pretty humbling and difficult for me and my little family. I may go in to them here in the future, I may not - there are too many unanswered questions about what is going on to talk about it in public. Suffice it to say that I have had a lot of fatigue, and a lot of slowing down from my normal pace. I always like to keep myself busy doing and going. But, this quote from Elder Nelson's talk, "Of Infinite Worth" has given me a great reminder that this trial I am currently experiencing is in fact a gift - which is helping me to refocus on what is most important.
"Of course, there are times when a woman’s ability to endure is taxed to the limit. A teacher may have had enough of childish pranks, or a mother might be heard to say she’s “ready to resign.” She could become discouraged, especially if comparing herself unrealistically to others or focusing on what she is to do instead of on what she is to be.
Her self-esteem cannot be based on physical features, possession or lack of a particular talent, or comparative quantities of anything. Her self-esteem is earned by individual righteousness and a close relationship with God. Her outward glow is generated by goodness within. And her patience is much more apparent than any imperfection. (See D&C 67:13.)
Sweet serenity is found in fervent prayer. Then, we forget ourselves and remember the reaching hands of the Savior, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.) As our burdens are shared with Him, they do become lighter.Feelings of worth come when a woman follows the example of the Master. Her sense of infinite worth comes from her own Christlike yearning to reach out with love, as He does."
Keep on building wise mamas, on that Rock. He is there to help you. I know He is right here, helping me as I struggle in the work of building mine.
What do you think of Proverbs 14:1?
Please, share your wisdom with me in the comments section.