Throughout my childhood, I valued the opinion of my father . . . I strove to make him happy and to see him smile. I sought out opportunities to capture a few moments of time in which I could hold his complete attention and share a moment that would belong to only the two of us. I treasured those moments, but as much as I sought out these opportunities, I spent an even greater amount of time trying to become that which would make my mama proud. Even at an early age I sensed within my mama a strength that I knew existed, but one that I did not understand. Her inner strength was something that I sensed, something that early on I knew I wanted to achieve.
“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Proverbs 31: 25
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. ” Proverbs 31: 28
As a child I knew that my mother although inwardly strong, outwardly had a weakness within her body that inhibited her from doing many of the things that she would have like to have been able to do. I sensed her frustration and watched her struggles, but I never saw her give up. She simply would not give in, even when it would have certainly been much easier for her to just let life progress as it seemed determined to do. Even though she did not understand the weakness that grew within her body, she fought it. She did not accept “no” and did not allow “I can’t” to take up residence in her vocabulary. I remember watching her fall, only to see her pull herself back up and try again. I internalized all of this and found the desire within me to be as strong as my mother one day. It would take years of watching her as she dealt with a life of difficulties that would have caused so many others to give up the fight, to come to understand the strength she possessed as a characteristic I knew I wanted to possess. In her outward weakness I saw the true depth of the inner strength she possessed and it become something that I wanted more than anything else. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to possess what I saw inside of my mother. This became a pursuit of so much more than just that of inner strength.
“That he would grant, you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Ephesians 3:16
It wasn’t until later in life that we would discover that my mother had the disease known as MS, a diagnosis that would provide so many answers and explanations for all that she had faced for so many years. It spoke of the great inner strength and determination that she had within her that had enabled her to fight as long and as hard as she had throughout my whole lifetime. Her fight was a testimony to the source of her inner strength. The inner strength that she had lived as a living testimony that resulted in one of the greatest lessons I ever learned from my mother. The lesson of the true source of our strength.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” II Corinthians 12:9-10
Today as I look back over my life and the life of my mother, I see her true price so much higher than that of the price of rubies. I see that within my life I was able to find the strength to live amidst circumstances that might otherwise have caused me to falter along the way. I see that by watching the true meaning of inner strength and the source of that strength in the life of my mother I was given the ability to develop inner strength that enable me to become who I am today, “no” and “I can’t” weren’t part of my vocabulary. In moments when I found my life crumbling around my feet I knew where to go for the source of true inner strength to pick myself back up and put the pieces of my life back together. Because of the strength I saw in the life of my mother I have been able to achieve a life far greater than the price of rubies. Happy Birthday Mama . . . Please know that your price is far above rubies, and because of your life and the strength that I have watched in you through your life . . . . I came to possess an inner strength through the source of all strength and I have a life with a price far above rubies !! I love you so. . . upon this Earth, you are my hero !!!
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. she girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31: 10-31