Friday, April 22, 2011

Quiet Desperation

Ever since I learned that the Virtuous Woman could have possibly been Bathsheba aside from Sarah, I've been wondering if she had been happy.  For some reason the word "happy" doesn't seem to apply to Sarah.  When I think of the Matriarch of Judaism, I imagine a strong-willed, determined woman who pretty much could plow a land single-handedly while milking a cow and delivering a baby.  And happiness was a feeling so unimportant that there was no need to experience such a sensation.  There was work to be done and being "happy" was not part of the equation.

But then I think of Bathsheba.  She was an ordinary woman.  Sure, sure she was so beautiful that King David was willing to forgo all his moral principles and respond only to his basic instincts but as a woman of class, she wasn't by any means above average.  But if she indeed carried within herself the qualities of a Virtuous Woman how must she have felt when she was torn from her home, subjected to adultery by her king, and then lose her husband to premeditated murder and become the wife of the man who planned her husband's death?  The only thing I could think of is that she was oblivious to the murder plot.  But even so, as a virtuous woman, when she layed with her king knowing that her husband was out in the battle field how did she, a woman of principle, feel about the whole thing?  And what did she think when she realized she was carrying the King's unborn child inside her?  I mean, we're not talking about a married groupie here who had a crush on a king and was giddy at the opportunity of a moment of passion with the most powerful man in the country, we are talking about Elizabeth, the Virtuous Woman, the woman of Valour, the one who surpassed all other honorable ones.  She had to have loved Uriah and even if she was only married through cultural arrangement, she must have atleast been loyal to him. I wonder if she told a close friend, if she prayed, if she cried herself to sleep.  And when she became the queen, I wonder if she thought about how she got to her own throne and I wonder if she ever looked toward her old home (after all, it had to have been within an eye shot away since King David saw her bathing) and I wonder and have been wondering if Bathsheba lived in quiet desperation?

I've read and re-read Proverbs 31 and while it lists in detail the qualities of this Virtuous Woman, there is no mention of down time for her, no mention of laughter, no mention of friends.  No mention of happiness.  Maybe a virtuous woman never has to stop to dwell on what may be lacking in her life---perhaps she has nothing lacking in her life, therefore she never experiences a moment of absolute void. Could virtue be synonimous to happiness?  Somehow I doubt it.

My bestfriend is the closest thing to Elizabeth that I know.  She is an operating doctor in one of the top hospitals in the world.  She barely has any time to sleep.  Her body is trembling with exhaustion when she gets home yet she religiously bathes her daughter, reads her a book and prays with her as she tucks her to sleep. On her days off she cooks enough for the week and catches up on laundry while simultaneously works on Abstract Presentations for the next medical workshop she has to conduct in some city filled with medical students.  And of course, she is beautiful.

But because she is my friend I know of her quiet desperations, and she knows of mine.  She's aware of questions like, "What am I doing?  Am I doing enough?  What does all of this even mean?"  And she's aware of my paranoia, my silent fears, my insatitable desire for success which deepens the well of a mother's guilt.

There are good mothers I think who stop and reflect on their lives and wonder what if they had gone to school and did more for themselves as much as they do for their children?  There are business women who lose friends as they gain success and perhaps wonder to themselves if everything gained would be worth the loss if it means gaining back things more meaningful?  And then there are carreer moms like me who live in constant guilt because our sense of fulfillment is met outside the comfort of our homes.

It would be comforting to know that Elizabeth had her moment of quiet desperation.  That it did not make her less amazing but that in the height of her virtue she felt some kind of void that some women experience.  I think to myself, the greater you become the less those around you can relate to your greatness.  And when you're in a league all on your own, there must be moments of isolation.  Isolation, for me, is often a relief but it also brings some level of loneliness.

I wonder if Bathsheba felt the same.


  1. Well, this is more like the writing I'm looking for - honest, raw, and deep. Dig deeper though, I think you will find the answer and will sure help other women...

    But as for happiness, I think the virteous woman finds her happiness in being virteous - in being self-denial and seeing others happy. Not only that, I'm sure her happiness is in finding that she's in control of her environment and things are in order. I certainly can relate to the happiness of seeing things in order and everything it's place. (But as for the self-denial, well...let's not talk about what's obvious. Lol) - Ate Chin

  2. LOL, Ate, at the self-denial part! Wlad and I just talked about this blog. He too said I wrote something he would actually comment on because he can relate to this writing. I can write more like this but I think deeply all the time for a living that these blogs have become a decompressor for me so I write silly, random thoughts. I think you may be right--the virtuous woman's happiness is anchored on her valour. My quiet desperations must be because I'm a million miles away from true virtue! lol.

  3. Yes, I really like this so much better. Don't be afraid to write your heart out and approach serious stuff of the heart matter...people are looking for something more real, something more spiritual, something that will talk to their heart and soul. The thing of it is, as a writer, you're going to have the courage to do that - to be honest and raw and not be afraid of censure or of succumbing to your thoughts of "what will others think". Write about the truth and people will be set free. If it ministers to the hurting and confused, then you've accomplished your goal...Believe it or not, it is what sells...and if it helps you in the process, more power to you!

  4. I believe that us woman, especially those who are high in rank have a quiet desperation. We are to uphold this strength in front of those around us especially our families, we tend to have a habitual responsibility of keeping our composure and to not show weakness. Having everything means having nothing if we don't take care of ourselves and accepting who we are. As a nursing student who is a month away from a BSN I feel accomplished but at the same time scared because I don't want my work clouding my personal life and I sure don't want to lose myself in my work! Ate these blogs are so therapeutic and eye opening. I also love how REAL this is.. I can't wait till your book comes out. -Katucha

  5. I agree with the everyone else. This is the writing that resonates in that place of 'me too'. I know plenty of great career women, who despite their perfect hair, careers and kids are deeply and tragically lonely. I wonder. Can there ever be real balance with the top level of success in any department?

  6. @Rainbow--I think greatness, maybe not virtue, is isolating, especially for women and unless you are a hermit, that isolation inevitably produces loneliness. And for the successful woman who must also be a successful mother who must also be a successful wife/partner while keeping an orderly home, there must be a point of absolute, total exhaustion that leaves her emotionally empty. That's part of my quest: can one woman balance it all and be great at everything but then--to what cost? Her happiness, perhaps. Living a life of quiet desperation most likely. Is it worth it I wonder...

  7. Good job, you got people thinking and talking. Love it.