Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Proverbs 31 Woman

Below is a copy of a great article written by a dear friend of mine named Donna who doesn't blog. She wrote it for a newsletter to which she contributes regularly, and gave me permission to post it here. It's a bit lengthy, but it inspired me and spoke to my heart and I wanted to share it here. Enjoy!

First Lady and Virtuous woman (Sue Abigail was never in the white house. Dolly Madison was the first one to live there in the early 1800’s.

A woman of valor who can find for her price is far above rubies.  Proverbs 31:10-31 How many young men are looking for this woman for their bride?

In their book Her works Praise Her, Hasia R. Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly Use the Sabbath Evening Liturgy  as an introduction to their  history of Jewish women in America. “She need not be beautiful, for ‘grace is deceitful and beauty is vain.’ Rather, she serves her family, and her husband ‘doth safely trust in her.’ “ 

Fortunately for John Adams our 2nd president, Abigail was both beautiful and a virtuous woman. She exemplified the Proverbs 31 woman. David McCullough in his book on John Adams reveals much about Abigail as well. He said “Where others might see a stout bluff little man, she saw a giant of great heart, and so it was ever to be.” Her belief in him isn’t the only thing that helped him to fulfill his destiny. Apparently although she was consistently cheerful she also told John he was too severe in his judgments of people. In a letter to her before they were married he said of her that she “shall polish and refine my sentiments of life and manners, banish all the unsocial and ill natured particles in my composition.” She did have a “beneficial and steadying influence on him” I believe that a woman’s influence on her husband can make him a better man or it can cause him to lose his confidence and make him an angry man. John’s heart trusted in Abigail. Can your husband trust in you? What kind of influence are you having on him? Is it making him a better person?

Abigail Adams set an example for modern women to follow. David McCullough made this telling statement about Abigail. “He (John) prized the Roman ideal of honor, and in this, as in much else; he and Abigail were in perfect accord. Fame without honor, in her view, would be ‘like a faint meteor gliding through the sky, shedding only transient light.’ ” Isn’t that the ideal God desires for marriage, for us to be in perfect accord.

 “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” John and Abigail’s separations, lasting months at a time had become extremely difficult for her. In November of 1775 with winter fast approaching she wrote to John “I hope I shall not be obliged to spend it without my dearest friend… I have been like a nun in a cloister ever since you went away.” Yet she was determined that he play his part. “You cannot be, I know nor do I wish to see you an inactive spectator.” Abigail’s sister Mercy urged her own husband to resign his commission as a general rather than serve outside New England. But Abigail when Adams rode away on a winter day for another session of Congress in Philadelphia wrote to Mercy “I had it in my heart to dissuade him from going and I know I could have prevailed, but our public affairs at the time wore so gloomy an aspect that I thought if ever his assistance was wanted, it must be at such a time. I therefore resigned myself to suffer some anxiety and many melancholy hours for this year to come.” Abigail believed her husband’s abilities would benefit the country so she sacrificed her own desires and released him to his destiny. She spent many more years deprived of his presence and help on the farm before he finally retired.   In the winter of 1777 she was pregnant and house bound by much snow with 5 children when she wrote to John who had been in Baltimore for months, “Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.” 

Like the Proverbs 31 woman who “works willingly with her hands” Abigail was a hard worker. McCullough says Abigail “did her own cooking by the open hearth; she spun and wove clothes for their everyday use. McCullough said that though she had a sheltered and bookish upbringing, she was to prove every bit as hard working as he and no less conscientious about whatever she undertook. She rose at 5 in the morning and was seldom idle. All her life she would do her own sewing, baking, feed her own ducks and chickens, and churn her own butter.” And I thought my life was busy.

She provides meat for her household and portion for her maidens
When the war brought on rampant inflation and shortages of every necessity it made the day to day struggle increasingly difficult. But she scrimped and saved to stay free of debt. Instead of complaining she said “I believe nature has assigned each sex its particular duties and sphere of action and to act well your part, ‘there all the honor lies.’” I greatly admire her strength of character and spirit. In July 1778 she wrote to tell John that the baby girl they both wanted had been still born. Only a week later she reported in her letter to John” The corn looks well and the English grain promising. We cannot be sufficiently thankful to a bountiful Providence (God) that the horrors of famine are not added to those of war.”

John and Abigail both had a devout faith and Christian ethic. They were very much in love and remained devoted to one another despite years of separations. Occasionally Abigail accompanied her husband but the greater part of the time she did not. She stayed at home assuming all the responsibility of the farm and her family by herself. When they were separated she encouraged her husband in letters. Their many letters to one another give us great insight into their character today. Before reading this book I didn’t really understand what a very large role John Adams played in the founding of our country. He truly was a great man, but I wonder if he would have achieved as much without Abigail’s sacrifice, diligence, and encouragement. She was truly a helpmeet to her husband.

Reading about great Christian in history has brought a different perspective to my life that this narcissistic age does not afford, and I believe it has caused me to be a more well-grounded Christian. Look for some of the recommended titles in the sidebar at your library or online. They will enrich your life and your Christian walk.

Recommended Reading
Abigail Adams was an avid reader and could converse with the men of her day.
Reading is so important because it gives us a better perspective on life in today’s sound byte generation. Biographies of great women like Abigail Adams can inspire us to support and encourage our own husbands. I highly recommend reading biographies of great historical figures to your young children as well.

More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Arizona Women by Wynne L. Brown 
This small book is a collection of short biographies and really an interesting read.
The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey
A fascinating true story depicting the people and culture of New Orleans in the early 1800's.
Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser
This is a fictional story based on her letters.
A is for Abigail Adams: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynn Cheney
A children's book with short descriptions of women in American history.


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