Several months ago, my son Matthew wrote me an email asking one simple question… would I do for him what I had done for his older brother many years ago… would I write a series of letters giving him specific advice as to what to look for in a wife?
Matt was seven when I first started writing those letters. His big brother was away at school in the days before email and Facebook and Twitter. For over a year I wrote letters, folded the paper, licked the envelope, and dropped those missives in the mail.
I tried to explain to him how women differ and what I saw as his greatest need. I painted a picture for my firstborn son of a woman whose life would mesh with his— of a helper, a partner, a lover, a friend for the rest of his life. I knew, in that way that mothers know, that John Mark would be a leader.
And I knew John Mark.
I called those letters, “In Search of Eve” – I know, I know, it does sound incredibly corny now, but this was back in 1998 when baggy jeans and white-bleached-sticking-in-every-direction hair was in style too.
It made sense back then.
And it sure seemed to work for John Mark. Those letters mystically coincided with his discovery of Tammy. There in black and white was a handwritten description of the woman who had captured his attention. As he read those letters from his mom he was astounded at how accurately I was describing a girl I had never met.
Well, you know the rest of the story. John Mark and Tammy have been married for ten years now. They have two of the most intelligent, amazing, engaging, handsome boys in the world (okay, maybe I’m just a tiny bit biased) and have just adopted a beautiful African daughter into the Comer heritage. There is no doubt in my mind that Tammy is God’s gift not only to my son, but also to me. I love her like my own daughters and she fit my son in ways I could never have envisioned while laboring at my desk over those letters.
And now Matthew wants letters of his own.
And so, over the next few weeks and months, I will be sharing with all of you what I write to my son. He’s agreed to forego his privacy just a bit in order to allow his friends and people neither of us know— but both of care about, to learn alongside him. I’ll be using the last chapter of the book of Proverbs to guide my advice to my son.
Proverbs 31 has long been studied by women hoping to learn how to be the perfect woman and the “ideal wife”. But that was never the purpose of this oft-maligned chapter of God’s Word.
It is simply a letter from a mother to her son.
Now, granted, included in the middle of that letter is a description of woman of such beauty it fairly takes our breath away. And leaves us lowly less-than-perfect women more than a little intimidated.
But that, I would argue, is not what this mother intended. She was writing to her son, not to women. And she knew her boy. She’d studied him and prayed for him and watched over him since before he emerged from her womb.
Now he is a man, a leader, a king. His vocation as ruler/politician/warrior puts Lemuel under intense pressure to perform and provide. And his mother knows he needs a godly woman to come alongside him and bring balance and wisdom and grace to his leadership. A woman who will fill the empty places of his heart, while bringing him honor and immeasurable help.
And so she writes her letter to her son. And I write to my own son.
And both of us beckon you to read along. To think and ponder and imagine what a truly good wife can do alongside a truly good man. And what a truly good man should know about women. And what women should know about what it means to be truly good.
But while you’re reading, will you do one thing? Will you forget the idea of “ideal”? Will you set aside the fairy tale notion of “perfect”? Instead, will you look with me at what God has to say about the value of a good woman?
And will you give me lots of grace in these next series of posts? I’m writing to my son, not studying for a commentary.
I’m the mom of a man-boy who is preparing for his future of leadership and mission.
And I’m the wife of a leader— a truly good man who has taught me and corrected and protected me for just shy of 34 years.
I’ve learned most of what I know the hard way. By making mistakes and coming up short and being disappointed in my self-centered self. And then by turning to the Scriptures to find a better way of being.
This is my answer to my son’s question—
Mom, what should I look for in a wife?
From my heart,
Diane (aka Mom)
P.S. Why don’t you take some time this week to slowly read through Proverbs, chapter 31? Allow yourself to think through the wisdom in God’s words to you. Go ahead and jot down a few notes and send me any questions that come to your mind.