The Gentle Beauty of a Disciplined Life
Today is a special day. Thirty years ago today, my parents got married. As a new 23-year-old, I think thirty years seems like such a long time. For my whole life (plus an additional seven years), my parents have been committed to loving one another, to serving one another, and to raising a family that honors God together. And by God’s grace, they have accomplished much, establishing a godly heritage for my siblings and me to pattern our lives after.
I’m so thankful for both of my parents. I’m thankful for their faithful love for me, even when they know my many flaws and sins. I’m so thankful for the way my dad has cared for our family and been a spiritual leader, prioritizing family devotions and prayer every day. I’m thankful for his wisdom in the counsel he’s given me over the years as I’ve grown up and transitioned out of the home.
But today, as I anticipate Mothers’ Day coming up next Sunday and as I contemplate her influence in my life, I am especially thankful for my mom. As a young woman, considering all the unknowns of the future and keenly aware of my own weaknesses, I look at Mommy’s life and wonder how.
How do you keep loving and submitting to your husband, year after year? How do you keep meeting your family’s needs, year after year? How do you keep serving women in the church, year after year? How do you keep following God, year after year? While many words and concepts stand out that could answer those questions, one that jumps to mind is simply discipline.
I’m not talking about discipline in the sense of punishment or a rigid, legalistic standard that holds true feelings at arm’s length. Rather than being an additional brick on an already overwhelming load, godly discipline is an extra support to bear the load, providing the bearer the grace and strength to stand up under the pressures of life. And as I look at my mom, I can see how this sustaining, godly discipline graces every aspect of her life. Discipline has strengthened her marriage, her family, and her walk with God.
A Disciplined Marriage
In my mom’s marriage, discipline shines most brightly through her faithful love for and submission to my dad. I can’t remember a time when Mommy openly opposed Daddy’s decisions. For the last thirty years, she has followed him, prayed for him, and loved him. To each one of her four daughters, she has set a high—and amazingly attractive—standard for what a godly wife looks like.
A Disciplined Family Life
In my mom’s care for her family, discipline takes on the earthy tones of getting supper ready in the middle of the afternoon, reading to a sick child, or folding five loads of laundry. Discipline looks like making hot tea for my younger brothers, morning after morning. Discipline looks like taking the time to teach her children how to function in a kitchen, when it would so much easier for her to simply do it herself. Discipline looks like establishing a schedule for chores in the household (which, incidentally, taught discipline to us kids as well!).
I don’t know that anyone could raise a family of eight children, successfully homeschool them all, and still carry the responsibilities of being a missionary and pastor’s wife without discipline. And as if caring for her family were not enough, my mom has also welcomed many others into our home, both short term and long term, making them part of the family for as long as they were under her roof.
A Disciplined Walk with God
Of all these areas, I see this one as the most important. In fact, in many ways my mom’s walk with God enables and strengthens her disciplined love and care for her family.
Growing up, I always knew that at some point during the day, I would see Mommy reading her Bible. Sometimes it was early in the morning, before any of us were even up. She would just be finishing as the first of us sleepyheads wandered into the kitchen looking for breakfast. Sometimes it was midmorning, after the initial rush of eating breakfast, cleaning the house, and making sure all of us kids were settled in with starting school for the day. And sometimes, in the midst of her crazy busy schedule and hours of teaching, cooking, and cleaning, it wouldn’t be until the afternoon when I would see her, sitting out on the porch to catch the ocean breeze, with her Bible open in her lap, a cup of tea by her side, and a pen in her hand.
I don’t have to stop here, because I could fill pages upon pages with sweet memories of my mom over the years, loving us and loving God. Though no person is perfect, I can see how discipline has enhanced every aspect of Mommy’s life. She has had a profound impact on my life in each one of these areas, and she continues to be an example both to me and to each one of my siblings. I praise God for the gentle, grace-filled beauty of her disciplined life!
Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.