The Proverbs 31 Lie
Every day I find more women who hate the chick in Proverbs 31.
How can she possibly do all this?
She never sleeps. Brings food from afar, plants vineyards, sews, knits, runs a business, farms, owns land, and instructs with wisdom as she provides for her family and the needy. Contributing only good. No fear. No idleness. Only strength and dignity.
Um yeah, she’s “hard to find.” Girl doesn’t exist … at least not in this home.
And then we get down on ourselves. Discouraged. Insecure. How can we possibly measure up to this incredible female?
And that’s the lie.
That somehow this poem became a job description.
A few years ago I learned that Proverbs 31 wasn’t created as a task list for women. An “utterance” the King’s mom taught him and a Hebrew acrostic poem, Proverbs 31:10-31 became a practical way for husbands to honor their wives. The passage was memorized and then shared aloud in song every Friday night before eating the Shabbat meal. A weekly way to commend his wife’s hard work and noble deeds in front of their children.
But somewhere along the Christian way things got a bit messy. Add social media (Pinterest envy or guilt anyone?) and so many of us are falling over our business-planning-sewing-baking-knitting-working-never-sleeping tables, exhausted.
Proverbs 31 is a blessing, not a death sentence. Let it prompt you toward “acts of valor” not disqualify you from some imaginary prize.
Think of all the things this proverbial woman didn’t manage that you do.
- Managing her kid’s media
- Walking them home from school
- Common core math
- Themed birthday parties
- Tummy time with the littles
- Living through teething/tantrums/grocery store meltdowns
- Schedule coordination
Or better yet, consider the implications of your daily task list:
- “she gets up while it is still night” Nursing babies anyone?
- “works with eager hands” pretty much anything you focus on accomplishing
- “provides food for her family” cooking, baking, grocery shopping, shoot … takeout
- “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” prayer, mom hugs, friendship, generosity
- “watches over the affairs of her household” and “portions for her servant girls” indicate that she didn’t manage these things alone. She had help. And It. Still. Counted.
- Above all, she is praised for her connection to and reverence of the Father. “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” No wonder her husband can have full confidence and lack nothing of value. Her focus, strength, wisdom and priorities come from her relationship with God.
More than trying to show how you measure up, I want you to know that you don’t have to. Proverbs 31 isn’t a Pass/Fail test. It’s a commendation. Don’t disqualify yourself based on a few missteps, or overrule God’s plan for your day/week/year/life based on fake requirements erroneously pulled from a biblical poem.
Allow the noble themes of Proverbs 31 to stir your heart and draw you closer to God as your source and prize. To strengthen your hands for the work the Lord gives you today and encourage your efforts. Business, housekeeping, raising the kids, homemaking, these are powerful contributions requiring strength and valor. The lie is that we must do them all … all at once … to have anything count. In truth, what you do already counts for more than you know.