Bringing up Batsheba
Her story is one of the most scandalous in history. Upon vague memory of her name, I began to research (Googling) her character. I took note from some very credible and reputable sources including biblegateway.com, bibleodyssey.org, jewishencyclopedia.com and US News and World Report (hence, the word "some"). Although each of the four recount her story somewhat differently, they all shared a common acknowledgment. The details in Batsheba's relatively short story leave much to question about her character. Was she manipulative or victimized?
What she powerful or vulnerable?
Was she punished or excused?
I am not a theologian. I would never claim to be, nor put forth any effort to attempt it. I am writing from a layman's point of view. My position in society is a common one. Not unique, just timeless.
I'm a mother.
In the eight years I've been an active participant of social media, I have read or seen countless lists, blogs, sentimental narratives and touching videos identifying the special blessings, and extraordinary rewards, reserved exclusively for the mothers of all boys.
My son is eleven and I would be lying if I denied my relationship with him is unlike the one I share with my daughters or husband. I have never attempted to describe my feelings for Ben or the way I dream about our relationship as he continues to age. I have never attempted to because it is one of those treasures I hold so close, I feel it might lose value if ever it was exposed. It's ours and only ours and I wish not to share it. I get it. I understand the bond between a mother and a son. There simply isn't language to clearly illustrate the connection. And I'd prefer that there never is.
I must, however, stake a claim today in the sacred ground belonging to the mothers of daughters. This ground is equally difficult to describe, but for reasons far more complex. And not always so attractive.
Ben has two sisters. Mia is ten and Addy is eight.
There are two things this post is NOT. I am not comparing either of my daughters (or any of yours for that matter) to Batsheba specifically. I don't know Bathsheba's intentions when she left to lay with David. I don't know how she really felt when her husband was murdered. I honestly don't care. All I know is that no one else knows either. Many claim to...even want to.
She comes to my mind as I consider the potential trials awaiting my girls Whether it's lack of confidence or abundance of ambition that will motivate that girl to make the choices she will, those choices are waiting.
Will she or won't she?
Will she want to please first or take pride first?
Will she succumb or overcome?
Will she take care of herself or others?
Both, or neither?
Will she be pressured or intimidate?
Will she question or declare?
Both of my daughters will face temptation. They will make mistakes and they will experience epic failures. They will suffer from poor judgment, and will at times, choose themselves over others. They will have moments of vanity, lust and grandeur. No amount of prayer, guidance, teaching, or reading will prevent my daughters' imperfections. God has a plan for each of them, a plan that promises trials and affliction. How else will they learn to need and want Him?
In addition, this post isn't about who parents harder, better, or with higher expectations. I know, and deeply believe in, the impact of the family dynamic. Every parent has the opportunity to play a critical role in the development of their children. I agree with everything that has been written on the power of the father in a home and the influence he can have over the lifetime of his children. I support the conversations that illustrate the valuable lessons taught through hard working single mothers to both their sons and daughters. I'm writing from a league of competition. I'm simply writing from my heart as a mother of daughters. A heart that recoils in fear for what it may have damaged, or what it might fail to establish.
I'm overcome by all of the feelings that troubled me as a teen, young wife, and now. Those are the feelings that direct my actions towards my daughters. I want better for them, I want more for them. I want them to be confident in themselves, yet empathetic towards others. I want them to be brave and proud, but sensitive and reflective.
I want these for my son too, but he's simply not watching me like they do. He doesn't care what I wear, how I scrub my face or answer the phone. He doesn't pay attention to my handwriting, my different laughs or the title of the book I'm reading. He knows the people I talk to, but doesn't ask why and certainly doesn't pay attention to how often. He loves the food I cook, but could care less how long it took, or why. He doesn't observe when my eyes are dark, or sad, to replay the events of the last 24 hours. I know he loves me just as much as they, and that I am irreplaceable in his life. I'm sure he notices more than I give him credit.
But my girls are here, always putting me on notice and giving me more credit than I want.
My relationships with Mia and Addy are what keep me up at night. They're the primary focus of my current prayer life, and the subject of most of my fears. Those relationships dictate many decisions and initiate far more reflections.
Am I good enough...to raise them?
Do I do enough...to show them?
Do I say enough...about them?
Can I show enough...for them?
How do I instill enough...in them?
Do I give enough...to them?
Will they ever have enough...for HIM?
Enough implies finality. Completeness. Arrival. I get that! I know that I'm not perfect, nor will they ever be. We are all continuing to grow, as we should, to be better individuals for God, each other and ourselves. I'm aware of all that. But I'd be lying if I denied that my greatest ambition is to raise them to be as close to perfect as possible. Isn't that what we all want for our children, both our sons and daughters? I do.
Why is it exceptionally intimidating when I consider my role in raising these two girls?!
When I climb down from my tree, back up from the ledge and begin to think more clearly (less emotionally), I am grounded in one concrete desire. No matter what my daughters learn from, hear in, or see through me, there is only one thing for which I am willing, and now ready, to devote all of my energy.
I hope they will learn who they are IN HIM.
Not me. Not the world, not their jobs, their friends or their spouses. I want them to know who they are in God's eyes. It is only there that they are safe. They'll always be exposed to pressure, judgment and fear. They'll be tested, and tempted, and questioned, and even failed. I can't protect them from any of that.
All I can do is equip them with what I now know to be the strongest defense against guilt, shame and insecurity: God's love and who we are because of it. Their lives won't be exempt from pain and suffering, but they can grow up knowing peace and comfort within it. They can have unconditional love amidst ever changing conditions.
Batsheba is relevant to me today as I attempt to navigate all of these feelings because she exemplifies the risks that potentially face my children, as well as the rewards that can come in encountering them. Regardless of Batsheba's objectives, and despite any of her convictions, we know she was judged and likely misunderstood. She suffered pain and loss, self-doubt and insecurity. The guilt and shame surrounding her actions are probably worse than many of us have ever experienced. How lonely she must have felt...
I pray that my girls encounter strong women of faith. I want them to have devoted friends who will make them better, grow them stronger and hold them accountable. I pray those friends are revealed as teachers, mentors, friends and family. Regardless of our interpersonal preferences, we're emotional by nature and need the comfort and validity only other women can provide in times of weakness and grief. We must serve to fight for and intercede on each other's behalf.
Unfortunately, we don't have Batsheba's journal entries or blog posts to analyze or evaluate her spectrum of thoughts and feelings. But we know she knew God. She feared Him and worshiped Him. She understood His power. Whether or not she had a relationship with Him throughout her immoralities, we know she'd found Him in the end. In fact, she valued this lesson so much, she wrote Proverbs 31 for her son Solomon [King Lemuel].
She's been profiled many ways. Pure and holy woman was not among them. She wasn't a faithful wife and might have consciously abused her power. But Batsheba had learned through, and reflected upon, her experiences to realize that the power of God was far more influential in a woman's life than anything of the world. It could transcend all opportunity and overcome any adversity.
She'd experienced enough to share it with her son.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I completed this yesterday, February 2, after nearly four hours of deliberation. I didn't have writer's block. The contrary, really. The words were coming faster than I could type...but so were my emotions. As soon as my thoughts and prayers were directed towards her name, I literally said to myself, "no way". By the time I was finished, I couldn't even proofread to publish it. I'd cried out of love and in fear. I'd hesitated and resisted. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I had just enough energy to shower and dress. It was a wet hair, no makeup kind of day. Surely...I was just dehydrated?!
I share this little footnote simply to exhibit the process I sometimes endure in writing and posting. It's torturous. Subjects come to mind and I pray over them for days-sometimes its for clarity, other times out of reluctance. I don't always want to write, but I have to. It's the least I can do for what I continue to be given. By the grace of God, go I...