The quarrelsome wife vs prudent wife

I remember the days of living in our apartment on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator and sleeping in a bedroom with no aircon. My sister, Marian and I shared that bedroom. Insomnia was not a problem for me then. But I can still remember what it was that kept me awake… constant dripping of a leaky aircon.

Proverbs 19
13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
and a quarrelsome wife is like
the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

The wise author of this proverb sure knows what he’s saying. I can imagine how irritating it is for a man to have a quarrelsome wife when she is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof… tok.. tok… tok.. tik… tik.. tak.. tak.. I also know how it is when I am quarrelsome. Andrew would tell me: Di le chio wan quay ba? (Are you challenging me to a fight?) He also described it as ‘provoking’ him to anger. And it is true, I was quarrelsome when I did not control my mouth (or more aptly, tame my pride).

Proverbs 21
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
19 Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

These two statements are good reminders for me as a wife.
God wants me to learn self-control: taming my tongue and swallowing my pride. He keeps the lessons coming. I often realise that the argument stops when I keep quiet. I have also experienced more grief when I indulged in a swift moment of pride and/or anger.

Andrew often jokes (half-seriously or perhaps he’s serious about it) that he’s moving to the 3rd floor to be by himself. One bathroom is not enough for the two of us. His nightly concerts (Zzzzz) sometimes keep me awake. Even so, I am glad that we’re still in the same bedroom. 😀

Proverbs 19
14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 20
3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Bottom line: I prefer to be his prudent wife from the Lord rather than a quarrelsome/nagging wife like constant dripping of a leaky roof. It is to my honour to avoid quarrel because only fools are quick to quarrel. And I don’t want to be a fool.

So my dear sisterly wifey friends, let’s encourage each other to be treasures of our husbands – and let them say: I have a prudent wife from the Lord.

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Getting up from the mud…

What do you do when things do not go the way you want them to? How do you react when people are rude and inconsiderate? How do you feel when your actions were misunderstood, criticised and taken negatively in spite of the good intentions you have?

What do you do in the face of all negativity that surrounds you? Do you complain about it? Talk to a friend? Do you retaliate in kind? Give the people who offended you a piece of your mind? Defend yourself? Do you passively ignore them? Do you pray to God to vindicate you? Do you even pray for God to avenge you? So after doing any one of these things, what next?

I have at one time or another experienced one of the scenarios above. At one time or another, I might have responded in similar ways to one of the above. What did I learn from all these negative, unpleasant situations that life brings? I learn resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to be elastic and stretchable. It is being adaptable and adaptive to circumstances that life brings to us. It is refusal to stay in the mud and mire. It is picking myself up from the mud, washing off the dirt and start walking again.

How do I do that? First, I stop complaining about it. Let me illustrate. When my driver/chauffeur of 10 years resigned suddenly without advanced notice, I was taken by surprise and mad. I was angry at his disrespectful behaviour. I was insulted he sent me a resignation letter delivered by his brother-in-law addressed “To whom it may concern.” I suspect it was written by his new employer. I complained about it to his brother-in-law (who is employed with me) and my friends. Then my husband told me: I guess he’s embarrassed to come personally to us to give his notice of resignation. I realise that putting myself in his shoes helped me to be less angry. It made me stop complaining. I learn to be happy for him – if he is in a better job, then good for him.

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I then turn to the positive aspects of the situation. One driver less is less expense for us. My daughter can drive herself to work, get parking reimbursement from her employer, and we save on gasoline. The driver does not need to take her to work and go back for her after work. She gets to manage her own time. There are 4 of us in the family who can drive. One driver can serve our needs. If necessary, I can drive for my children or my children can drive for me. We get to have more bonding moments in our rides. My driver gets to earn more. We increased his salary for his added load and to encourage him to do better.

What about when I quarrelled with my husband? It is always stressful to argue, to shout and vent our anger on each other. It is not pleasant to keep myself from defending my rights, and not get what I deserve. There is a need to have the last say. It is difficult to shut up and fume inside. It takes lots of energy and self-control to bite my tongue so the argument will stop. What do I do? I rationalise. I think how right I am. I get angry and say to myself – how wrong he was. Or I think how wronged I was. I cry. I sob. I indulge in self-pity. I learn both these responses do me no good. I dry my tears. I get up from the couch of self-pity and anger. I drove myself to watch a movie. It doesn’t matter what the movie is about – a drama, a comedy or a thriller – so long as I like it. One time I watched Phantom of the Opera. It was cathartic to continue crying in the movie – for something not my own sadness. Another time I watched King Arthur – the legend of the sword. The plot and action scenes in the movie made me forget my own angry tales. Then I bought myself my comfort food to bring home to eat. I ignored my husband the rest of the night. I went into the bathroom the next morning and hugged him to say I’m sorry. And he said ‘I’m sorry too.’ That’s the end of sad story… until the next one.

158411-Dolly-Parton-Quote-I-ll-be-wearing-my-high-heels-even-if-I-m-up-to.jpgReality of life is that there will always be difficult circumstances in our life – unavoidable or not, things within our control or not. Our mortal body (diseases, death) – with our sinful nature … in an evil world (war, prostitution, terrorism, oppression, etc.), in the natural world under the forces of nature – famine, typhoon, tsunami, earthquake, etc.; all these are often beyond our solutions to solve, beyond our abilities to handle to avoid or run away from. We have no choice but to face them as they come. But we do have a choice how we face them – how we respond to them with our attitude and perspective.

It is natural to feel sad when hurt, to feel angry when wronged, to feel anxious when sick. Grief is part of the emotions that God created in man – what are tears for? Today I still grieve for my parents. They died within 5 months of each other last year. How do I cope with grief. I think of our happy times. I look at old photos of us together. I remember my childhood days. I treasure the legacies they left behind. I honour their memory when I live out these legacies – the legacy to be diligent and responsible, the legacy to be prayerful, to be positive and encouraging, to be resilient when times are hard.

choose joy

Yes, it is easier said than done. Practice makes perfect. Everyday is a choice. If there’s a will, there’s a way. For Christians, we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our counsellor and guide. He guides us and enables us to get up from the mire and to continue walking.

Mister Fantastic

Resilience: the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. This brings to mind the scenes of Tom and Jerry stretching and compressing and returning back to their original shapes after being pulled and pressed. Is it not true that cartoon characters amuse us with their ability to get back to their original shape after being squished and squashed; pulled and pushed around? Mr. Fantastic Reed in the Fantastic Four is the super hero with super elasticity he can contort himself into any shape n size he needs to save himself n the needy.

In the real world, to be resilient is to be able to get back on your feet after being struck down. It is the capacity to withstand a difficult situation and recover quickly from it.

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The resilience of the Filipino people is best seen in the aftermath of Yolanda – the super typhoon that struck the Philippines leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. It is amazing to listen to the stories of the survivors what they believe and how they cope in the aftermath of the storm.

We learn resilience from Biblical heroes. Job is number 1 in the list in terms of sufferings. The secret to Job’s resilience is his perspective on suffering. He knew his origin and his destination (Job 1:21). He came into this world with nothing and he can take nothing with him when he dies. He acknowledged everything he had is from the Lord (Job 1:21, 2:10). The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Shall we accept good from the Lord and not trouble? Job’s faith enabled him to accept both the good and the bad. He sees both sides of the coin: his coming and leaving; God’s giving and taking. A resilient person sees God behind all the good and the bad.

Joseph’s resilience is seen in his journey from being favored son to hated brother to favored servant to accused prisoner to trusted prime minister of all Egypt… from the pit to the prison to the palace. In his story, there was not a mention of him griping and complaining. His brothers sold him into slavery. He did not sit in the mire cursing his brothers. He just made do with each circumstance the best he could. God granted him favor in the sight of Potiphar. Joseph became his trusted servant. When Potiphar’s wife enticed him to sin, Joseph’s main concern that he could not do this evil and sin against the Lord. He was imprisoned for something he did not do. In prison, God granted him favor with the warden. Joseph again helped his fellow prisoners interpret their dreams. The fellow prisoner he helped forgot about him. When opportunities came for him to avenge himself, he showed kindness to his brothers. The key to all these is his forgiving spirit. It was sad and painful to have his brothers betray him. Yet he did not let his grief turned to bitter anger. He focused on doing best he could under each circumstance. He refused to remain in the pit. A resilient person forgives the wrongs done against him.

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David’s Psalms exemplified his resilience. His psalms of lament and of praise narrate his grief, his fears and his praise in the midst of trouble. He was kind to his enemies. He did not kill Saul who wanted him dead even when there was more than 1 opportunity for him to do so. He was kind to Shimei who cursed him (2 Sam. 16, 19). He also prayed for God to avenge him with his enemies. A resilient person is realistic and optimistic. David realized his sad and dangerous circumstances yet he is always sure God would turn things around for him.

危机 means crisis. The first word means danger. The 2nd is opportunity. This Chinese phrase wisely interprets that there is an opportunity in every problem. Jacob’s resilience is manifested in his encounter with his father-in-law. He wisely made use of the opportunities presented to him even when his father-in-law time and again took advantage of him. Joseph turned his prison experience into an adventure to help his fellow prisoners. This eventually got him out of jail to interpret dreams for Pharoah. David used opportunities to show Saul his loyalty by sparing his life again and again. A resilient person makes good use of opportunities in times of crisis.

I was surprised when a friend said I am resilient. How? She referred to my journey as a daughter-in-law who did not bear a son to carry on the family name. Perhaps she empathized with me the challenges of being married to an only son born to traditionally conservative Chinese parents. Perhaps my phlegmatic personality inclined me towards resilience. One thing I know I learned that God wants me to focus on what I have and not on what I do not have. I do not have a son but I have three precious beautiful daughters – who are diligent in their studies and responsibilities. They love me and love each other. I miscarried my first child – a boy. For many years, I envied mothers tagging little boys along or mothers with big tall lads to do for them what boys supposedly do better than girls. God showed me that girls can carry heavy loads just as well.

I observed that my resilience is best seen when I lick my wounds and forgive. It is useless to remain angry and sulky after fighting with hubby. It is wise to heed the biblical teaching: Do not let the sun go down on your anger. More than just passive forgiveness, I learn from Jesus that active forgiveness is washing the feet of the people who kick him – the disciple who betrayed him, who denied him and who doubted him. Resilience is stretching the limits… going beyond what is normal.

In the past few months, I had power stretching sessions with my physical therapist. Stretching is not my fave to do at the gym. Dancing is much more fun. Yet stretching allows me to go on to dancing. After my ankle surgery, I could not put weight on my foot for almost 3 months. In my first session at therapy, the PT stretched my foot with all her might. Through the past 7 months, my foot got better because of the stretching exercises I had. My PT often asks ‘Mam, tama na ba?’ I often say: “Stop.” As time passes, I learn to let him stretch a bit more before saying stop. I distract myself with my phone and text and even FB – things that I like to do so that discomfort of stretching is not as visible.

Resilience is about elasticity. It is about being pliable – adaptable to all shapes and sizes of circumstances – realities in life. God is our master therapist. He knows our limits. He will not let us go beyond what we can bear. He equips as he calls. He enables us to be resilient to each twist and turn in life’s journey. He allows difficult circumstances to mold and shape us into his image – to be holy as he is holy; to love as he loves; to be patient as he is patient; to forgive as he forgives. To be a resilient person by God’s grace and mercy is to journey with the boundless and timeless Creator – to go beyond our imagination and what we think we are capable of. Because our God is infinite – beyond limits and without boundaries, we can be resilient in trust and obedience – be pliable in the Potter’s hands.

Right and Kind

Ang daya! (A Filipino term: “So unfair!”)

This is a familiar cry among children. What do these words mean? To be unfair is to not follow the rules of the game. Do we not adults also cry ‘foul’ when we see our favourite team losing because of bad calls from the referees?

To be fair is to behave according to the principles of equality and justice. Having a sense of justice is a valued trait of a leader. In Biblical times, the king is expected to lead in righteousness and administer justice. It implies that the king should know what is right from wrong in order to rule justly. This is why Solomon prayed wisely:
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:7-9

A sense of justice is not only for kings. It is something God wants us to know about him.

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord. Jer. 9:23-24

It is also something we need to emulate because we are created in His image. There are 3 things in this passage that God considers important: kindness, justice and righteousness.

mercy n right

They are equally important – not one over the other. Kindness is about grace and mercy – giving to the undeserving and withholding what is deserved. What about justice? Justice is doing what is fair and right. Justice and righteousness go together. To administer justice, one needs to know right from wrong.

What about justice and mercy, are they against each other?
“Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psa. 85:10 NASB)

God showed us justice and mercy at the cross. He holds both as equally important – to be right, to be fair, and to be kind. It is right that sin is punished. His mercy costs him death of his son, Jesus on the cross. Jesus paid the price for our sins.

How are we to be just and kind? In the Bible, justice and kindness of God is often associated with the poor, the orphans, widows and foreigners. It is extended to the marginalised. Our sense of right and wrong is to follow God’s concern for the needy, the oppressed – those who are voiceless, powerless and helpless.

It is a sad reality that Christians are either too condemning or too conforming or too condoning. Our sense of right and wrong can be too strong that we do not forgive. We demand justice – we want vengeance. Or we need to avenge ourselves. We can also be on the other extreme, too forgiving that we neglect to speak out what is right.

It is said that to be right and not kind is not right. It is also not kind, to be kind and not right. How so? When I condone the mistake of one at the expense of another, I am being unkind to the one in the right.

Lord, please grant me wisdom to know right from wrong. Let me boast that I know you as my God who delights in kindness, justice and righteousness. Let me be just, right, and kind like you. Amen.

I don’t understand your mind…

“I don’t understand your mind.”

“Yes, whatever you wish.”

the-happiest-couples

These are two difficult sentences for me. The first one is difficult to accept. Why? Because it implies that my mind is complicated. The person who said it, cannot understand me.

The second sentence is difficult to give. Why? Because it means that I am saying yes to a wish that might not be the same as mine.Am I being difficult to understand? 😀

I will make it clearer. The first sentence is difficult for me to hear because hubby said it to me.

The second sentence is what I said so we will not get further into another argument. And I do mean it. It is not easy. It takes lots of practice… 30 years and I’m still trying to perfect it. Not by a long shot!

My two-cents thought on midlife crisis revolves around these two sentences. It is not one way street though. I too often do not understand his mind. I just do not say it as often. When menopause and andropause meet, that is about the perfect formula for a midlife crisis. For those who do not know what andropause mean or do not believe in it, I assure you that it exists. Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying hubby has it. Do not tell him I did. I will deny it. I am saying that I was/am menopausal. I often wonder if I am still in it or already out of it.

Bottom line.. regardless of menopause or andropause,
“I do not understand your mind” is not only a probability. It is a reality in human relationships.

“Yes, whatever you wish.” is the antidote to crisis. It is based on the principle of pleasing my neighbor. Take note that it is not about being people-pleaser, it is not about being afraid to say ‘No.’ It is not said for fear of rejection. It is not uttered because of fear of failure – that i do not meet the expectations of others. I say “yes, whatever you wish.’ to hubby because I submit to his authority. I submit to him because the Bible teaches me to do so. I submit to him because I love him and respect him.

Respect… that is the most wanted and needed ingredient in a marriage – the one thing a wife must give her husband and the one thing hubby values most.

Counting the countless…

Solomon, the richest and wisest king of Israel… Of his material and human resources, numbers could be given: daily supply of food, areas of land owned and ruled over, numbers of flocks, herds of cattles, horses, horsemen, deputies, even food for the animals – everything could be counted.

Do you know what did he have that could not be counted?

I Kings 4
29 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.

Solomon is known for his wealth and wisdom. Wisdom likened to sand on the seashore! How wise of Solomon to ask for something that cannot be counted! And how paradoxical too… Solomon prayed:

1 Kings 3:7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. 9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

Asking in Humility:
1) Solomon knew his God v.7a: who he is..God is his Lord and his God. what he did…It is God who made him king.
2) Solomon knew himself v.7b: who he is.. a ‘little child’. what he knows not: I do not know which way to go. He saw himself as a servant of God.
3) Solomon knew his people v.8.. who they are…They are God’s people – people He has chosen… a great people too many to be counted..
4) Solomon knew his task v.9: to judge with wisdom – knowing between good and evil.

Humility is the state of mind – a recognition of who one is in relation to God and fellowman. It is thinking others are more important than oneself and believing that God alone suffices.

God was pleased that Solomon asked unselfishly. He asked with pure motive – to do his job well. So God gave him more than he asked.

To have wisdom like the sand of the seashore.. what a priceless and countless blessing.
Perhaps, it is because Solomon emptied himself before God – fully depending on Him that God filled it to the brim and even overflowing. How often when I think I am sufficient – that I know – it is in those times when I need to tell God – I do not know.. show me… give me wisdom.