Who here knows that every time women are mentioned in a biblical context – women’s conferences, mother’s days, weddings, oh my! – the “go-to passage” is Proverbs 31? And when it does get recited, who here has shrunk a little lower into their seat?
I am absolutely raising my hand right now.
Every time this passage is quoted, my inner monologue gets louder with each line. The tiny, harsh, yet truthful, voice in my head interjects at each pause with a comment on my shortcomings.
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.”
Not your husband, that’s who.
“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
Okay, but just yesterday you said that if he didn’t come inside and entertain the baby while you made dinner, you were gonna square up.
“She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.”
The only flax you’ve ever spun is flax seed… into your oatmeal… like three times in your entire life. How’s that diet going, by the way?
“She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.”
Yasss, girl. You’ve totally got this one, just yesterday you drove 30 minutes for takeout just so you didn’t have to cook.
“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.”
Before dawn? Ha! You literally hand your 8-month-old puffs and corner him into the bed with pillows so you can sleep in for five more minutes.
“She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
Energetic? Yes (thank you, Folgers). Strong? Debatable, you’re still tossing around the ten pound dumbbells. A hard worker? Totally – but let’s be real, the only reason your lamp burns late into the night is because you’re scared of the dark.
“Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads.”
Dude. She makes her own bedspreads. Most of the time you don’t even make your own bed.
“She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.”
Lol you dressed in something you grabbed out of the laundry pile that you fully intended to fold and hang up, but you haven’t gotten to it yet. Also, those new KanCan jeans you wore to church today totally still have the size 11 tag hanging off the back pocket.
“Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
Not you. You have anxiety attacks when you think about the future. Laughing hysterically though, that you can do.
“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”
Ouch. You were totally not kind when telling your husband to ‘please, for Pete’s sake, hold this kid for a minute so I can get something done.’
“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”
You are, most definitely, NOT this woman.
How am I ever going to be a Proverbs 31 wife? I’m not just struggling to be a Proverbs 31 wife, some days I struggle NOT to be a Proverbs 21:9 wife. My husband can surely attest to the fact that there have been days he would have rather hung out on the roof than hang out with me and my six-foot-seven, outlaw attitude.
Now, if you’re the woman who has had vacuum lines in her carpet since 1992, supper is on the table two seconds before your husbands stomach growls, and you’ve literally never stared out the window thinking fondly on the days when your children had not yet discovered their vocal chords – this post probably isn’t for you. You are definitely more precious than rubies, and just as rare.
For those of you that are in the same boat as me – the boat that keeps filling with water, and you keep grabbing every bucket in sight to shovel it back out – you are not alone.
For every dirty shirt that gets tossed in the washer, a dish ends up in the sink.
For every speck of dirt that gets swept up, a puff gets ground into the carpet.
For every moment of peace, there is a moment of chaos to follow.
(As I was writing that last sentence, my speedy little almost-toddler crawled into the bathroom and started licking a bottle of conditioner.)
Life has a way of making me feel like a hamster on a wheel – running to exhaustion, but seemingly never accomplishing anything.
And at the end of the day, when I’m finally getting to bed at eleven or later, I lay down and compare myself to the awesome mamas on my phone. The Pinterest mama, who has a photographable life and seemingly perfect children; the Facebook mama who defeats insurmountable odds every day and has the posts to prove it; the Instagram mama whose kids kiss her for photos when mine just pulls my hair. I lay down and compare myself to all of those women and, I absolutely guarantee you, I compare myself to you.
Me, with my one child and struggling. You, managing all of your tiny beautiful children with grace.
Me, with my husband (who I’m so blessed to have home more days than he’s out working). You, a single mother doing it all by herself and rocking it.
Me, throwing on layers of clothing hoping it hides the fact that I’m so uncomfortable with this post-baby body. You, always flawless, literally gracing my timeline with your beauty.
And then God reminded me.
It says “Who can find a virtuous woman? She is more precious than rubies!”
I don’t know about you, but I have a limited selection of jewelry. Some of which would probably turn green, if I ever wore it. I am not, nor do I know anybody who is bathing in precious gems.
There is a reason that this woman is more precious than rubies, and it is for the same reason that rubies are precious. She is RARE.
She’s not that girl you follow on Instagram, she’s not all the pins you save on Pinterest, she’s not the lady you kind-of-sort-of know on Facebook. She is an ideal that God laid out for us to follow and He knows that none of us will ever be her without fail every day of our lives.
In a rare, quiet moment, God led me to a couple of verses that I am currently printing off and posting on my fridge.
Philippians 3:12-14 (CEV)
“I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.”
So, no, I am not a Proverbs 31 woman. I am still a frizzy hamster on a wheel, running a race. That is perfectly alright.
All my hamster-on-a-wheeling, my running in circles, this is the race I am running!
I will inevitably struggle. Sometimes the laundry wont get done. Sometimes I will let my anxiety get the best of me before I remember to trust in God. Sometimes I will make my husband want to go hang out on the metaphorical roof.
But this I can do: I will do my best every day to forget my short-comings of yesterday and keep struggling for what is ahead.
This is my calling. Not to have a super cute, Pinterest worthy kitchen. Not to fit into that size seven my unforgiving hips won’t let me pull on. Not to never fail.
My calling is to keep letting God mold me into a better wife, mother, and woman than I was yesterday.
Everything else I accomplish is the grace of God.