You know the days when your baby takes long, peaceful naps and the sun is shining on the patio? You know the days when everybody’s happy when Dad gets home and there are kisses and giggles; dinner time is a cozy, cheerful affair? You know when you look at those smiling green baby eyes and put down the distractions and go for a walk together, cooing and bababa-ing back and forth at each other the whole while? Those are the days you build your life.
Proverbs 9:1-2, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.” I didn’t really pay much attention to these two verses until a year or so ago, when I read the end of the chapter in the context of the beginning. Verses 13, 16-17 say “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.” She calls out “‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ and to him who lacks sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.'”
You know the days where your babe seems to wake up just half-an-hour too soon every time you lay him down? The days when you have a crick in your neck which causes a headache which, you ruefully reflect, will probably mean terrible sleep? You know the days when the terrible sleep means you’re still groggy when the boy wakes and wants a bottle, so you might as well just stay awake? You know the days when the man you love comes home and you just want to snap that you never get to punch out and go home from your job? Those are still the days you build your life.
It’s obvious in Proverbs 9: Wisdom works. She builds the life she wants, the good life. You can’t exclude the bad days from this pretty pattern you want to create. The days when you’ve planned and organized and somehow your life still seems in control of you? The days when you sit down dazed on the edge of the bed and wonder if you managed anything, at all, besides the (too-late) timing of your son’s (slightly healthy-ish…) meals? Those are the days you want a do-over. And those are the days you still need to build – if nothing else, build your responses to the way those hours shove you around.
You can’t – ok, let’s stop masking this in second person.
I can’t create a grace-filled life if I’m not going to have that grace on the hard days.
I can’t lead a loving life if I toss love to the wind when it’s not easy.
I can’t have a heart that serves if I’m not going to serve when I’m tired.
Let me tell you, this kind of life – this kind life – takes a lot of courage. But even more it takes persistence. I need courage and mercy and gentleness this morning? Yeah, well I’m going to need them all again this afternoon, this evening. Again, tomorrow morning. It seems it’s always time to choose. Everything is only ever built brick by brick.