As we have read, thought, and prayed through the book of Proverbs thus far, we know that the chapters are full of wisdom and solid advice. Some of us have probably even heard our parents’ or grandparents’ voices saying something similar to us from those pages. I think Proverbs 25 is yet another wisdom chapter that is steering us in a direction so we don’t have to hear the words, “I told you so!”
A couple of friends recently have posted a question on their social media accounts asking people to offer sayings that their parents and grandparents used to say, but you don’t hear very often now. Of course our southern heritage is rich with funny quips like, “I’m better than sunshine on a cat’s back”, “She’s cuttin’ her nose off to spite her face”, or my favorite in response to the question, “How are you doing? I’m finer than frog’s hair!” Are any of these old sayings filled with wisdom? Maybe some but not all, but they reminded me about little wise thoughts my grandmother use to say on our Saturday afternoons together.
My grandmother lived to the amazing age of 104 and up until the age of 98 she lived by herself. My mom was her youngest of 5 children, and lived the closest, so we were thick as thieves for 37 years. My oldest daughter is named after her. She was a wise woman. She guided me often with wisdom she had gleaned from her studies of the Bible and everyday living. She was not just my grandmother, she was my friend. When I read Proverbs 25: 10-11 in The Message ( I enjoy reading the NIV and then following up with the paraphrase from The Message) the verses embodied my grandmother. “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” She was always able to give me the right word at the right time, and a reprimand when I needed it. When I was angry or hurt by some teenage thing going on she would say, “Melissa what’s your goal? Where do you see God working in the problem?” If there was a strong lesson she wanted to offer it always centered on her flower beds. After listening to me complain or bemoan something, she would always say, “Come out here, I need your help.” Inevitably it would be a rose bush or iris or peony bush that had some type of bug or growth on it. We would tend it together and then she would look at me and say, “it’s all going to be fine, we may lose a few leaves but these roots are strong, and the soil is healthy.” She would then say the same thing to me, “Melissa you are going to be fine, God is tending to you, you may lose that friendship, or that solo in the chorus, but you’re strong and you will grow from the experience.” She never said, “I told you so” but she would give you the look if you came back and told her everything worked out. Her eyes would dance and a little smile would form at the corners of her mouth. During seminary I would always show up to her house around exam time with my books and cry believing I would not pass the exam, and question why I was even going to seminary. She would take my hand, hand me an iced tea and say, “Study as long as you need, I’m going to do my work in the garden.” By the time she made it back inside I was feeling more confident and she would give me that I told you so smile. The picture I’ve posted is that smile. It was taken on my graduation day from seminary in 2000, she was 94 years old.
Her words are my gold. She gave me her simple gold wedding band when I graduated from Seminary. When I wear it I am normally trying to work my way through a situation, it reminds me my roots and soil are good, God is tending to me, and it’s all going to be fine. As you read and pray through Proverbs 25 today, take time to give thanks for your friends and family who bring you wisdom and a kind reprimand at the right time. Grace and peace to you today.