I have a friend who recoils like a cobra ready to strike the moment she sees or hears anything related to Proverbs 31. If you aren’t familiar, think God’s job description for the perfect wife and mother which seems unattainable and feels more like a guilt offering.
When we are in the throes of marriage and/or child rearing, the sobering words within the saintly scripture can unglue even the Theresa, as in Mother.
Instead of a sharing a list of qualifications for the ideal woman to be more or less proficient in, God subjects us to a mouthy inventory of perennial womanly duties akin to the pureness of the Mary supposed to be in us, as in another Mother.
What if there is more to Mrs. 31 than meets the hopeless eye? God often asks us to break down our walls of defense and search His truth with some fresh lorgnettes (lenses). When it comes to the challenging call of Proverbs 31, a little clarity will help all of us.
At first skim of the proverb, God appears to set the bar high in describing the quintessential, gold-star child-bearer and bride. As we cast His light of perfection upon our own inadequacies and failures lurking in the shadows of our wifely and mommy journeys, the visual can be u.g.l.y. , as in we ain’t got no alibi.
During certain seasons, the reality of how far below the bar our actions rank compared to the flawless lassie portrayed on papyrus causes us to want to curl up into the fetal position and wail ourselves to sleep.
Although I have done the crying thing, and the guilt binging thing, and the denial thing oodles of times, one season of despair I took the defensive route and started a petition.
My goal was to collect a million signatures from women around the globe who think Mrs. 31 is kinda, sorta on the far side of fetched.
I figured I could slam the binder down on God’s royal desk and demand he loosen up the strings of faultlessness.
Then a still small voice told me to read between the lines of Holy Writ. A more realistic picture began to unveil; revealing a watershed painting to hang on our whitewashed walls.
Here’s what I gleaned, with help from a realist angel. My confused mom heart began to unravel a little:
A wife of noble character who can find?
Exactly; God posed this as a rhetorical question for a reason.
She is worth far more than rubies.
And there is no disclaimer in this verse about our value dropping on bad days.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Hear that hubbies? GOD SAYS we bring you good all the days of our life. So when we wear our crazy from PMS or sleep deprivation, remember we are really sheep in wolves clothing.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
You can’t spin through the clearance racks fast enough to find a family wardrobe to fit a $200 budget.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
We get up while it’s dark because the middle of the night is the only time we aren’t being pulled in a zillion other directions. We have to go to the ends of the earth and back to find enough coupons to lessen our grocery bills and it ain’t happening unless everyone in the fam is catching z’s.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Yes. We consider the produce at hand, and we buy it if it’s on sale. By being frugal with our earnings, we plant seeds of smart shopping within the hearts of our offspring.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
Of course we work vigorously. We have five minutes to mop the floor and three minutes to lug laundry to the washer before junior wakes up from his nap. Our arms are strong from the chores, yes, but the natural tension means organic buffing.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
Our lamp doesn’t go out at night because we rarely sleep. Either someone is crying or our hormone levels are upside down. And it’s the only time of day we can scan a chapter in one of the five books about being a better mother we are simultaneously trying to read.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
We can chalk this up to stellar multi-tasking.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Yes. Yes we do. This one’s easy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
In general, we do our best to have no fear for our household because they are clothed in Christ. Thank you, Jesus.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Duh. Targét. (I actually prefer the Maxx)
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
We come to realize the wife’s respect towards her husband is far more important than all the elders.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Oh, we laugh at the days to come and the days at hand. In the former because we know our trials with our children will come full circle in their own lives as parents; in the latter because we’re nuts.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Sometime after age forty this begins to happen on a more regular basis.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
AMEN. 24/7. 365.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Aw shucks. But, darn right!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Raising a family pilfers much of our charm and beauty, but the love gained is a priceless bounty. We fear the Lord because we know he giveth and taketh.
And while we haveth, best enjoyeth, crazy Mommas!