It’s been awhile since I shared an entry from my commonplace book.  To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve read anything worth entering in my commonplace book.  I’m lucky these days to have time to hurriedly scan my childrens’ chapters for each week’s school work.  Anyway, I was skimming this week through some entries I made awhile ago and found another couple of doozies from the series of novels by George MacDonald that I read last year, called The Parish Papers.    

“I have known women who set a whole community against their husbands by the way in which they trumpet their praises; and I have known one woman who set everybody against herself by the way in which she published her husband’s faults.  To praise one’s husband is so much like praising one’s self that it seems immodest and subject to suspicion; while to blame one’s husband, even justly and openly, seems to border upon treachery.”

Apparently there is a fine line to walk here!   It has always made me very uncomfortable to be in the presence of a married couple who are “entertaining” their company at one another’s expense.  You know what I mean.  The constant teasing and jabbing, the habitual put-downs.  I leave wondering what is said in private if that’s what is ventured in public.  But I’ve never really given much thought to the other extreme and how that could make people feel.  I have always made an effort to speak highly of my husband; but can you speak so highly of your spouse as to offend?  If so, I must apologize for trumpeting his praises.  You see, I’m convinced I am married to the most understanding, wise, steady, and faith-filled man I know.  Sorry…there I go again!  Perhaps what I really need to do is redirect these sentiments; I am suddenly realizing that I fail all too often at intimating these persuasions to him!

“Her society did much to keep my heart open, and to prevent it from becoming selfishly absorbed in its cares for husband and children.  For love which is only concentrating its force – that is, not widening its circle – is itself doomed, and for its objects is ruinous, be those objects ever so sacred.  God Himself could never be content that His children should love Him only, nor has He allowed the few to succeed who have tried after it; perhaps their divinest success has been their most mortifying failure.  Indeed, for exclusive love, sharp suffering is often sent as the needful cure.”

Wow!  Anyone else feel sucker-punched at the moment?  I think this is a reminder that I, as a homeschool mom, need from time to time.  It is so easy to get caught up in this “concentrated” busyness when every waking moment of my day seems to revolve around home and family.  And by no means am I implying we should neglect our duty in our home or homeschool!  I think this is really a matter of the heart (as all things in life are)!  We each know, deep down, when any of the loves in our life are too exclusive, too selfishly concentrated.  The human heart can make an idol out of anything, can it not?!

Today I led worship at our city’s annual prayer breakfast.  We closed with the song “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.”  That song (and the scripture it’s based on) had been on my heart all week as I prepared the music for today.  And tonight I ask myself, what opportunities will I take this week to widen the circle of my love?  

What about you?

6 thoughts on “From My Commonplace…on family and love

  1. I am also one that is taking the opportunities that come to praise my caring, helpful, and just all-around wonderful husband (and there *I* go again! ;)). But I thought in doing so it was (painfully) obvious that part of his virtue lies in how well he puts up with my many faults–so I wasn’t thinking of it as an immodest act but rather just being realistic! LOL I wonder what MacDonald is getting at here? At the very least, I hope I am not making him the enemy of the community! 🙂

    As for the second selection, yes, that is indeed convicting. I really like the distinction between concentrating and widening. Thank you for giving me something to ponder this evening!


    1. He must be referring to the two becoming one so that in praising our husband it’s almost as if we are praising ourselves. I do think we do well to speak highly of our husbands though! I think if I’m going to err, it should be on that side! Haha! But like you say, in a way that praises him for putting up with me…not in a way that seems like bragging.


  2. I think it’s a matter of the heart as well when praising your husband. It is possible to have a competitive spirit and always be trying to convince others and yourself that your husband is better than anyone else’s. It’s also possible to try to manipulate with your praises. But praise from a sincere and loving heart, praise that is true, I don’t see how any wife can go wrong with that. I have a wonderful husband, too. 🙂
    I’m not sure what I think about the other quote. I do know my circle needs to be widened, and it’s not something that comes naturally to me.


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