My last post about idleness has received no comments on this blog and only one private comment sent to other places. However, this private comment, which I GREATLY appreciated, made it clear to me that I was unclear in my previous post. I particularly think the following paragraph needs a further explanation.
So the Proverb is saying the virtuous woman does not indulge in, dream of, focus on, center her thoughts and time around... idleness. She doesn't work so that she can be done and read a book. She doesn't have daydreams of soaking up some rays and sipping a cool drink. Her money and efforts are not geared toward entertainment. Instead, she looketh well to the ways of her household. Her efforts, thoughts, attention, goals, and focus pertain to her household, not herself.
I do not think it is a terrible thing for a woman to take some time to read a book, enjoy a vacation, or get a manicure. I do not think it is wrong for a woman to spend a night out with her girlfriends, to go on a walk by herself, or take a bubble bath. All of these things are fine.....IF they are not the focus of our life; if we recognize that these blessings are luxuries and not the first things in our lives. Contrast these two scenarios.
Our first woman does the dishes, laundry, cooks supper, and picks up the same toys every day. The whole time she is working she is grumbling. "I"ll never get this laundry done. I hate cooking everyday. I just want everyone to leave me alone. Can't they pick up after themselves? etc" All she wants to do is get through the mundane stuff so she can get to the best part of living....reading that book, or soaking in that bubble bath. She tells the kids to get out of her way and go play so she can just get her work done. When she finally does get to her free time, the children interrupt her and the third time they do, she snaps. She tells the kids to just get out and leave her alone.
Our second woman also does the dishes, laundry, cooks supper and picks up the same toys every day. The whole time she is praising God for the ability to be able to care for her family and for the fact she has a family to love. "So long as there is laundry, we have clothes on our back. Thank the Lord I have something to feed this crew for supper. I need to spend a little time with these kids reading a book. We need to work together as a family to pick up our mess." All she wants is a happy, peaceful, well run household. And when she sits down to read her book or take her bubble bath, she has peace and quiet because she has spent time with her children, tending them and her household.
I have been both of these women. The actions of washing the dishes, laundry, child care, etc are the same, but the attitude is sooooo different. The difference is what they consider to be "real" living. The first woman thinks times of relaxation are what life is all about. She strives to relax. The second woman thinks "real" living is finding the joy in everyday tasks. She is relaxed. The first woman's thought are centered on herself, the second on her household and her Lord. The first woman's whole day is filled with vexation, but the second woman's day is filled with joy and peace.
I do believe taking time for yourself is important. Charging our batteries is necessary to caring for those we love. Vacations are marvelous opportunities to reconnect with those closest to us without the distractions that clog so many of our lives, and looking forward to that is understandable. A day at the beauty shop is a blessing to be enjoyed for the sake of making ourselves more attractive to our husbands and releasing some of the tension that builds up in every woman on the face of the planet. BUT, and here is the crux of this step, the reason for time to ourselves is to better serve our God and those He has blessed us to care for. If we only find joy in our free time, we will be miserable. When the focus becomes to serve self....THAT is eating the bread of idleness. When the statements "I deserve this" or "I've earned the right" enter into our heads, we should stop and examine ourselves. Being idle is doing nothing. Preparing yourself to serve others is not an exercise in idleness. Serving yourself is.
That is what I meant by bread being the sustenance or the thing that energizes us. What attitude energizes me? An attitude of service or of selfishness? Fixing a bad attitude is hard, because we find so many ways to excuse our attitude. So my goal is to spend more time as woman number two, and try to tell woman number one to hit the road. I hope this is a better explanation of this step.