“I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified.” — Susanna Wesley
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” — Bible (Proverbs 31:10)
A couple of weeks ago I highlighted a quote by Abraham Lincoln: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." Today I am reminded of a mother who lived some 350-plus years ago whose impact is still felt today. She was a very unassuming but also forthright woman. She was the mother of two Christian leaders who are well known to us today. Following is information provided by Arthur Dicken Thomas, Jr. in Profiles of Faith in a quarterly teaching publication called “Knowing and Doing.”
“Susanna Wesley, born in 1669, faithfully tried to live within the confines of the domestic sphere prescribed for women of her time, but she also succeeded in making a mark in history not only through her two sons, John and Charles Wesley, but also for the bold things she attempted as a woman. Despite the limitations on women in her day, Susanna exercised an independence of conscience as she followed the truths of Scripture, served in a pastoral role while yet a housewife, and wrote as a lay theologian and guide to members of her family.”
Susanna married Samuel Wesley, an Anglican priest, and they had 19 children, but only 10 survived infancy. Susanna balanced her life between raising her children, supporting her husband, and ministering to her neighbors. For a period of time, she conducted a prayer and teaching meeting in her home to which upwards of 300 people attended. She taught her children each day from morning until noon and from two until five in the afternoon and of course the teaching included theology.
Not afraid of being controversial as she served God, she took a position that was quite contentious at the time. “Susanna claimed that a husband ‘has no power over the conscience of his wife,’ and ‘I value neither reputation, friends, or anything, in comparison of the singular satisfaction of preserving a conscience void of offence towards God and man.’ These are remarkable statements of a woman who wanted to apply views on Christian liberty to women. Her convictions on the freedom of conscience may have influenced her son John to undertake reforms in the Church of England.”
Today mothers struggle with what is expected of them, both in knowing what it is and carrying it out. In many families today, the mother must play the role of both the mother and the father. I admire the many women who try to do this effectively, but it’s impossible to do to perfection. God’s design is that both a man and a woman are needed to raise their children.
In the raising of children God has given different responsibilities to the father and the mother. In a general sense, the father tends to be more the strict disciplinarian. The mother is usually more compassionate and sympathetic to their children. In the Bible the husband is identified as the head of the family. On the other hand, the wife can be compared to the heart of the marriage. Both the head and the heart are vital to the functioning of the body and the successful operation of a home.
The mother also tends to be more aware of her children’s needs and feelings. We are reminded that Satan made his appeal to Eve; he knew that Adam was going to be less sensitive to his presence and appeal. The husband and wife are more effective working together to show their children loving concern while at the same time providing the structure and discipline they need as they mature.
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” ― George Washington