SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR.
"Help me to make things go forward instead of backward. I want to be neat and attractive, with a good head of hair, a good complexion and good health. I want to help my husband so he will fall in love with me to make home beautiful, attractive and comfortable. I want bright eyes and freedom from that careworn look. Oh, I want to draw my husband nearer to me." (From a Taurus woman, aged twenty-seven.)
Isn't that pitiful? And heaven knows--or ought to--how many poor women, and men, too, live with that same dumb longing to get nearer and be chums with somebody. That cry touches my heart, for I lived years in the same state.
And, oh, how I struggled to draw others nearer to me. How I agonized and cried and prayed over it. How I worked to make home attractive. How I cooked and washed and scrubbed, sewed and patched and darned to please! How I quickly brushed my hair and hustled into a clean dress so as to be neat and ready when my husband came in! And how I ached and despaired inwardly because he frowned and found fault! How I studied books of advice to young wives! How their advice failed! How I tried and TRIED to get him to confide in me and make a chum of me! And how the more I tried the more he had business downtown! Oh, the growing despair of it all! And the growing illnesses, too! Oh, the gulf that widened and widened between us! Oh, the loneliness! Oh, the uselessness of life!
I had to give it up. I wasn't enough of a hanger-on to sink into a state of perpetual whining protest, or to commit suicide. When I was finally convinced that I couldn't draw him nearer I gave it up and began to take notice again, of other things. I let him live his life and I took up the "burden" of my own "lonely" existence.
And the first thing I knew my "burden" had grown interesting, and I was no longer lonesome. I began to live my life to please myself, instead of living it for the purpose of making over the life of another.
The next thing I knew my husband didn't have so much business downtown, and he had more things he wanted to tell me. I found we were nearer than I ever dreamed we'd be.
You see, I had become more comfortable to live with. I had quit trying to draw him nearer, and behold, he was already near.
In the old days I lived strenuously. I hustled so to get the house and the children and myself just so, that I got my aura into a regular snarl. My husband being a healthy animal, felt the snarl before he saw the immaculateness; and like any healthy animal he snarled back--and had business downtown. He responded to my real mental and emotional state, responded against his will many times; and I did not know it. I supposed him perverse and impossible of pleasing. I knew I had tried my best (according to my lights, which it had not occurred to me to doubt), but it never entered my cranium that he had tried, too. I looked upon the outward appearance--my immaculate appearance, met by fault-finding or indifference I Poor me! Perverse he!
Poor Martha, troubled about many things, when only one thing is needful--a quiet mind and faithful soul. History does not state if Martha had a husband. If she did, he was perpetually downtown. And Jesus preferred Mary, the Comfortable One, to Martha. Poor lonesome Martha! And she tried so hard to please.
I used to know a woman who never did a thing but look sweet. She was pretty and sympathetic and cheery. Her husband and six children idolized her, and fairly fell over themselves to please her and keep the home beautiful for her. There was physical energy galore lavished gladly by the family, in doing what is commonly considered the mother's work.
And there was apparently nothing whatever the matter with that woman, who was always sweet and pretty as a new blown rose, and looked not a day over twenty. She was simply born tired and wouldn't work. Of course the neighbors said things about her; but nobody could say things to such a sweet tempered, cordial and pretty woman. And there'd have been razors flying through the air if anybody had dared hint to that husband or one of those children that mother was anything less than perfection. The family explanation was that "mother is not strong."
But that mother did more for that family than all the others put together. She made the atmosphere, and she was the life-giving sun around which husband and children revolved, and from which they received the real Light of Life--the power which develops the good in us.
The mother's main business in life was that of appreciating. She was the confidante, the counsellor, the optimistic teacher, and the appreciative audience for six children and a husband, besides a lot of neighbors who carried their troubles to her. She performed more mental work than it takes to manage a billion dollar trust. She kept six children, not only out of mischief, but happily busy at all sorts of household and outdoor work which it was well for them to know. They learned to keep house and farm by keeping them, whilst she sat by and enthused and directed their efforts. She made them love it all. She helped them over the hard places in their school work and enthused them to do better work. They carried off the school prizes under her admiring eyes, and ran straight to lay them in her lap and receive that proud and happy smile of hers.
Her husband worked like a slave with the heart of a king. She thought him the best, bravest, brightest of men, and told him so a dozen times a day, besides looking it every time he came in range of her big, loving brown eyes and smooth, rosy cheeks.
I never heard of an unkind word in that family, and those six children grew up into splendid young manhood and womanhood. Their mother is still the blessed sun of their existence. She is prettier, healthier and happier now, and so proud of her fine children.
And she is up-to-date. She has studied and read with her whole family and is interested with them in the world's present events, art, literature and religion.
Do you think that woman ever complains of loneliness, or "tries so hard" to draw husband or children "nearer"? No. She long ago chose the "one thing needful"--a faith-full heart. Her physical strength would not bear much strain without depressing her faith-full-ness; therefore she left the physical labor out, as less important. To her the Life was more than meat or raiment, so she ministered to the Life-- to the joy of living. A stronger woman, physically, could have ministered more efficiently to the physical side without neglecting the "one thing needful." This woman chose the better part and stuck to it; and results prove her righteousness.
The foolish woman looketh upon the outward appearance and is troubled over many things. She wears herself out trying to keep the outside immaculate and grieves her heart out because she misses the one thing of great price, the joy of loving and being loved, of trusting and being trusted.
Do you know that we are never far away from anybody? We are close, so close to our husbands; our children; our friends; even to our enemies if we have them; and to those we never saw or heard of. We are all One. Your soul is MY SOUL TOO. Only our bodies are at all separated, and they are separated only as the harbor is separated from the sea. Our bodies are but inlets of One Great Soul; and they are but the smallest part of ourselves. Is it then not foolish to try to draw another nearer? Why, we are now so near we can't be nearer; we are One. Why strive to do what is already done?
Ah, you see, we work from a false hypothesis. We are so concerned with the many things on the outside that we lose sight of inside truths.
Take your husband's nearness for granted. Be not troubled over the many things of appearance. Have faith in him. If there is any "drawing nearer" to be done see that you draw near to him in faith and love. Instead of mentally or verbally sitting down on his motives, words or acts, try to feel as he does, that you may understand him.
AS WE GEOW IN UNDERSTANDING OF ANOTHER WE GROW IN LOVE AND REALIZATION OF OUR NEARNESS TO THAT ONE. In proportion as we dislike or are repelled by any person OR HIS ACTIONS, in that proportion we fail to understand him.
As one human being is revealed to another the sense of nearness grows. Now do you imagine that distrust and censure will help a soul reveal itself? Of course not. But if you can be comfortable and indulgent to a man, and especially if you can cultivate a real admiring confidence in him, he will unfold his very heart of hearts to you. It is you who must come near in faith and love, if you would find your husband near to you.
To sum up:
1. You and your husband ARE close together-- so close you are One.
2. If you would feel the truth of this you must come to your husband in faith-full love, and you must not allow yourself to condemn or judge, verbally or mentally, his revelations of himself. You must vibrate with him where you can, and keep still in faith where you can't understand him and meet him.
3. You must persist in thus doing, until faith and love and understanding become the habit of your life.
4. The same rules apply if you would feel your nearness to any other person, or to all persons.
Every man is in embryo a good and thoughtful and loving husband. A wise wife will give him the loving, full-of-faith, appreciative atmosphere which encourages development.
"We are all just as good as we know how to be, and as bad as we dare be." And we are all growing better. Why not chant the beauties of the good instead of imagining it our "duty" to eternally bark against the bad?
It is said there cannot be a model husband without a model wife, and vice versa. True. Then if yours is not a model husband don't assume that you are a model wife fitted to judge and admonish him.
Be still and get acquainted with him.
Make it your first object in life to cultivate a serene and faith-full heart and aura.
As a means toward this end cultivate a full appreciation of whatever and whoever comes near you. Cultivate the spirit of praise; and trust where you cannot see.
Second, take good care of your body and personal appearance. Allow plenty of time for bathing, caring for your hair, nails, teeth, and clothing. Wear plain clothes if need be, but DON'T wear soiled or ragged ones. And don't ever put a pin where a hook or button ought to be. No man can continue to love a woman who is slatternly.
Third, allow at least an hour every day for reading and meditating on new thought lines, and for going into the silence. Let nothing rob you of this hour, for of it will come wisdom, love and power to meet the work and trials of all other hours. Remember the parable of the ten virgins and take this hour for filling your lamp, that you be ready for the Unexpected. Only in such hours can you lay up love, wisdom and power which will enable you to make the best of the other hours. Let not outward things rob you of your source of power.
Fourth, unless you wish to fall behind the world's procession see that you spend some time every day in reading the best magazines and newspapers, taking pains to skip most of the criminal news. Read optimistically and cultivate a quick eye for all the good things. Take the best magazines even if you have to leave feathers off your hat and desserts off your table. If you can find an interesting literary club it might be well to join it and do your part of the work. But see that you do not rob the Peter of your energies to pay the Paul of club ambitions.
And fifthly comes your housework. This is the juggernaut department which grinds many a woman to skin and bones--and her husband discards the remains! When it comes to housekeeping a woman has need of all the love, wisdom and power she can muster in her hours of silence. Even a five room flat or cottage is more than one woman can keep spotless and allow time for anything else. Many things must be left undone. The wise woman simplifies to the last degree compatible with comfort. Useless bric-a-brac is dispensed with. "Not how much but how good," is her rule when buying. A few good things kept in place, are better than a clutter of flimsy things which pander only to an uncultured esthetic taste--and make work. Order is the wise woman's first law in housekeeping; cleanliness her second, which is like unto the first in importance. She lets extra rooms, furniture and fallals go until she can pay well to have them cared for. The same rule obtains in her kitchen and her personal dress.
The wise woman thinks of comfort and allows time for the joys of life, wherefore all her life is a pleasure.
The foolish woman is ground under the wheels of routine. To her, housework is a stern "duty" which comes first, and to which body, mind, personal appearance, happiness, the joy of living, all must be sacrificed.
Lastly, firstly, and all the time, the wise woman is guided in what to do and in what to leave undone, by the Spirit of Love; whilst the foolish woman is guided by the Spirit of Appearances.
Note the order in which I have written these needs of life; an exact reversal of the usual order. Housework last, and the Spirit of Comfort first. The tendency of every woman is to lose herself in troubling over the many things of her household. If she would be happy, useful, young and growing she MUST turn her life the other side up.
The best way to begin, the only successful way so far as I know, is by MAKING time for the hour of reading and meditation and silence. She must take the time, by sheer force of will--take it until it grows into a habit which takes her. Out of this hour will come first peace and self-control; and gradually she will find unfolding out of this peace and control, the wisdom to know what to do, and how; and what not to do. From this unfolding comes the ONLY power which can make new thought practical to the individual case.
Are you satisfied with yourself and your condition? Then pursue your old ways.
Are you dissatisfied with yourself and surroundings? In order to change them YOU must change-- that which was first with you must become last AND THE LAST MUST BE FIRST.
Be still and know the I AM God of you; and, lo, all things shall be added. But the things must be last, not first.
Seek ye first the kingdom of Good in yourself, and to be right with it; and all things shall be added. All things shall be added to YOU, not to other things.
Be still until you find yourself--your wise, loving, joy-giving Self which dwells in the silence and is able to do whatsoever you desire.