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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Biggest Lie About the Proverbs 31 Woman




Can we talk just for a second about the Proverbs 31 Woman? I know. You’ve seen all of the blog posts and read all the books and shared all the hand-lettered graphics about her. She’s who you’re supposed to want to be, right? She’s what we’re supposed to be striving for. She’s the reason you took up knitting. She’s the prime example of a God-fearing woman. But ladies… I just can’t.

I can. not.

You want to know which part of Proverbs 31 gets me the most? “She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household,” because let’s just be real, okay? This is not something I am ever going to be able to do. Most mornings, my kids wake me by screaming, “we want Froot Loops!”  In fact, MOST of the P31 virtues escape me. I am indecisive. I am often selfish and lazy. I’m not a great cook, I own no less than six different grey t-shirts and wear them with black leggings or jeans most days. And I. Am. Exhausted. The only thing I’ve ever “spun” is a web of lies known as, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.” My faith-style in this season of life would best be described as “momma tried,” okay? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here when it comes to wifery (not a word, but fun to say) and motherhood. I’m just trying to survive and love people the best that I can.

You could say I struggle, all right? But the more I read, the more I realize something: Nowhere in Proverbs 31 does it say, “She is without sin,” or “She never feels lonely or doubts the Lord,” or, “She never loses her temper with her four year-old when he draws on the walls for the umpteenth time, “ or even, “All her hard work brought her great joy.” In fact, Proverbs 31 tells us very little about the heart of the woman which it’s describing. Sure, we know what she does and we know some characteristics: Trustworthy. Hardworking. Creative. Obedient. Business-savvy. She’s spinning yarn and wheeling and dealing all while donning the finest fashions. She’s a hustler, baby. But she’s completely made up.

That’s right. Proverbs 31 was not a biography of some noblewoman that was revered throughout the land. Ya know who wrote Proverbs 31? King Lemuel (or Solomon. Or Lemuel IS Solomon. It’s a whole thing. Google it.) basically in the words of his mother. It’s a list of the virtues of an “excellent wife” according to the ESV, and/ or Bill & Ted (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young to be my friend).

So essentially, a queen that wanted the best for her son created a checklist for a royal wife. I’ll stop short of calling this an arbitrary list (because, ya know- blasphemy and all) because there’s a reason it’s included in the Word of the Lord. These virtues- this list of characteristics- they’re true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on these things. The Lord wants us to see this list and acknowledge that those things are worth striving for. Who wouldn’t want to be called blessed by her children and praised by her husband? But the biggest lie about the Proverbs 31 Woman is one that we tell ourselves: that we cannot come before God as we are- that we still have items on the list to check off before He will have us. And I have to tell you, that’s just not true.

Christ speaks of my value in Matthew 10:29-31. He demonstrated His love for me in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And He calls me more than blessed; he calls me Beloved.

You do not have to be the P31 to be a cherished daughter of Christ. You don’t have to be her to be loved or find a spouse or contribute to the Kingdom. Mostly because you can’t be her. You will never check off enough things on a list to make others love and value you more, and you certainly can’t send your resume to Christ in the hopes that he’ll add your name to the list of contenders for salvation.

That’s done. You’re His. You with your clearance-rack fashion, parenting failures, and less-than Pinterest-worthy kitchen. You with your utter lack of sewing skills. You and all your selfishness, laziness, doubts, shame, fear, and the ugliest parts that you try to hide behind the highlight reel of your social media feed. He sees all of those parts because he made those parts of you… And He loves those parts of you.

So take heart, Christian woman. Maybe you’re not an “excellent wife” all the time. Maybe you haven’t seen a sunrise since the last frat party you went to in college and your food preparation specialty is box-mix-brownies (which is probably Jesus’ favorite food anyway). But you’re in the good company of all the other P31 Wannabes. We’re all just out here, trying to untangle our wool and flax. And we have Froot Loops. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.



1 comment:

  1. FYI - I forwarded your last blog to a 40+ year old friend who wrote back that she loved it! She was going to print it out and keep it where she would read it over and over. Your gift of writing is superb. I wonder how many others reacted as my friend did, and you'll never know.
    And your photography skills are awesome. I've told you before the "Red Dirt Revival" photos are impressive. I've gathered the ones I could from Instagram into one of their "magazines."
    Finally, as an 81 year old retired pastor, my take on Prov 31 is that I've usually heard it at funerals of elderly women. But that doesn't get it. The woman in question was a woman's libber before anyone ever thought of it. She's an effective business woman and manager. I'm with you on the rises before dawn as I'm an inveterate night owl. What I love most about retirement is I can read until 1 or 2 and sleep til 9, and nobody cares. You are quite correct about grace, but I am quite sure you are highly effective at what you do. Your husband and kids are blessed...

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