Ode to Feminine Genius: a Diligent Woman

diligent-womanA Valiant Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. She looks for ways to be organized and finds solutions to home keeping. Proverbs 31: 19, “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.”

Reprinted with permission from CatholicSistas.com.

I am an English teacher. I love words. When I was called to the task of writing on what it means to be a diligent woman, the first thing I needed to do was look closely at the word itself and analyze it to glean some meaning from it. The word diligent comes from the “mid-14c., from Old French diligence “attention, care; haste, speed,” from Latin diligentia “attentiveness, carefulness,” from diligentem (nominative diligens) “attentive, assiduous, careful,” originally present participle of diligere “single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate” (etymonline.com).

The common thread in all of these definitions and origins is the word attentive. God needs our attention in more ways than one. Our children need attention; our spouses need attention; our jobs in and outside of the home need attention: planning, grading, house cleaning, yard work, laundry, etc…

To be attentive is to remove our own self-importance and replace it with another priority outside of ourselves. This is an exercise in humility. Our pride is necessarily negated and that in itself lends itself to doing God’s will.

The next unifying concept is care. A diligent woman is careful in many ways; she is methodical, calculating in her actions, and does not act impulsively. She is also full of care. She places the needs of others before her own, and this enables the diligent woman to be humble yet again.

Diligence connotes tenacity and focus and enables us to maintain integrity in all our daily tasks, no matter how menial or how important. Sometimes I feel like I am so out of my league when it comes to being the diligent woman. I am not as industrious as I would like to be. I am not assiduous or even that persistent. It is clearly something I have to work at all the time.

I know that my number one flaw is that I am rather complacent and sometimes downright lazy. I am a working mom; I struggle to be diligent in the classroom when I am teaching as well as when I get home. I am often tired, and the older I get, the more tired I become.

There is a grace in performing what is expected of us in the face of difficulty, even when that difficulty is overcoming laziness. I have to ask myself what is it that I need to do to achieve diligence. Do I need to be more or better organized? Do I focus on my tasks as a means of achieving holiness or as pleasing to God? Do I focus on solutions rather than excuses? The diligent woman is a woman of character and integrity.

Michelle wrote recently about “getting over ourselves”. I believe that is precisely what the diligent woman is called to do. When we make our lives about serving others, that diligence is much easier to accomplish. We could afford to be complacent if life only involved ourselves, but it does not. Much is expected of most women in all roles, but it is only through diligence, attention, and care that we can remain sane and achieve the graces that God bestowed on us.

We must get organized. This involves planning so that the focus that is so crucial to diligence is achieved. Planning meals, keeping a calendar, and extra forethought communicates care to everyone we are involved with: husbands, children, bosses. We care enough to think ahead of time. There is an old saying: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I have found this to be so very true. When we have goals and a plan to meet those goals, we communicate so much to those around us. We have focus and vision and we are able to think outside ourselves and accomplish great tasks.

This earth is practice for Heaven. We are planning our path to God. If we can focus on that aspect of diligence, we are able to show God Himself that we care about pleasing Him. St. Zita of Lucca felt that one could not be holy and lazy. She found time for it all. In being busy, she found God. May we all learn to be busy and humble, attentive and careful, because that is what being a diligent woman entails.