“Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand.” (I Samuel 25:33)
My mother Pamela lived by some incredible truths: serving others is the very best use of your time; invite strangers to dinner, they just might become your friends; in life there are givers and there are takers, always be a giver.
We are introduced to this type of resourceful, generous lady in Chapter 25 of 1 Samuel. Abigail exemplified some of my mom’s guiding principles and demonstrated to us how to act the same.
In this passage that begins with a funeral and ends with a marriage, Abigail testifies out loud that not all heroes wear capes; not all heroes are prophets like Samuel or young boys who slay giants with a slingshot and stone. Some are ordinary women who race toward danger to right a terrible wrong, to overturn some impending calamity, to alleviate hardship and triumph over tragedy.
Abigail endured a marriage to a “worthless” man with a terrible reputation who epitomized greed and hatred. Surprisingly, though she lived with Nabal, she did not become like him. Somehow, her hardships did not harden her. In contrast to her husband’s foolishness, selfishness, and pride, she was described as a woman of wisdom, generosity, humility. The finest heroes are usually dressed that way.
As women we are often taught to emulate Proverbs 31. Though that is a high calling indeed, it is usually a goal far beyond most. Many resign before ever making this lofty attempt. In contrast, Abigail shows us a life that is simultaneously brave, wise and loving. Her actions and words bring 1 Corinthians 13 to life and remind us of the value of responding this way.
This iconic passage epitomizes the incredible art of loving others well: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
What if these were the gifts we honed, practiced, and lived by in our homes, and schools and offices? What if the bravest thing we did was hold our tongues rather than blast out a rebuke? What if we chose not to be irritable or disagreeable, not to secretly applaud another’s downfall, not to demand that our way be the only possible move forward?
What would it look like if we cast off rudeness and boasting and saw the needs of others as of utmost importance? What if kindness and patience become the new language we spoke, humility the clothing we wore, and our words the reinforcement that undergirded the well-being of others? What if these loving commitments were not only read out loud at wedding ceremonies, but were lived out loud in our daily existence.
Heroes running the show, invisible capes hidden from sight, loving hearts on full display.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell