My thoughts on the infamous Proverbs 31 woman, by Sarah.
When I was a kid, my parents never had a big fear of me getting kidnapped by strangers when I played in the front yard. “You talk too much,” They would say,“It wouldnʼt be long before they turn around and bring you back,”
Iʼve always had an opinion, one which has been backed by my furious passion and emotion and never went unheard by anyone around me. Back when Myspace was used for more than just music, I found an easy forum for blasting my strong views and I enjoyed rousing a response from people. I liked to feel important, as though my stance mattered.
I have a notorious issue with the Proverbs 31 Woman. Normally, I claim she doesnʼt exist. I will loudly tell you how the Proverbs 31 Woman is a cliche lists of requirements implemented to make us believe only the quiet, domestic, well behaved girls are loved by Jesus and got the guy. Honestly, I think my issue with the Proverbs 31 Woman is rooted in an issue with myself.
I have an issue with the Proverbs 31 Woman because I have been made to believe I am not good enough to be the Proverbs 31 Woman. Typically, the Proverbs 31 Woman is quiet, or at least soft spoken. She is the June Cleaver of the Biblical world. She serves her husband with a shiny white smile and feeds her children without breaking a sweat, all while lavishing them in scarlet garments and managing her household. She bakes, shops, provides, and pleases all while living in complete joy and submission to the Lord.
Sheʼs the good girl, the soft spoken sweetheart.
She is the girl who grew up in church, kept her purity ring shining, and saved her first kiss for her wedding day.
She is everything I am not.
Iʼm loud, opinionated, and rough around the edges. My hair falls in frizzy, wild curls around a face of dark eyeliner, unendingly chapped lips, and a pierced nose. Iʼve never owned a purity ring and I have a Hebrew word tattooed on my right arm. My apartment is always a mess, and my cooking consists of a lot of cheap pasta, turkey sandwiches, and a pile of Chipotle receipts. Iʼm impatient, cynical, and frequently wear yoga pants over real pants. It is with full confidence that I assure you, the Proverbs 31 Woman is the last thing people picture when they encounter me in real life.
I’ve served and worked with a lot of all female groups, and naturally I have heard a lot of prayers and compliments toward other girls,
“You are such a Proverbs 31 Woman,”
“Your future husband is going to be so blessed to have a Proverbs 31 Woman like you,”
One teammate told me I was a Christian version Tina Fey (which I gladly accepted, in all honesty), another declared visions of me writing books.
But not a single one of the things these girls prayed over me involved anything to do with marriage, domesticity, or the Proverbs 31 Woman.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but none of them are anything close or relatable to HER, the ultimate woman, the ideal.
I finally decided to look into this issue, this problem which scratched at my soul and sat deep within me, poking it’s ugly head out every now and then from that den of insecurity. What makes the Proverbs 31 Woman so special? What does she have that is so impossible for me to obtain? Surely there has to be some kind of hope for us loud ones!
Then, only once I began to truly examine in these [in]famous verses in Proverbs, that I began to uncover the truth;
The Proverbs 31 Woman is kind of a bad***.
She is an encourager, a woman of strength who builds her husband up and believes in him. She is unafraid to speak with authority, yet grace, because marriage is work and she is his helpmate. (“The heart of her husband trusts her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” v. 11-12)
She manages a household and a family, buying land, and managing their affairs. This is no soft spoken task, and she doesnʼt wait around for her husband to do it for her. She can take care of herself and manage business. (“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. . . She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant,”v.16,24)
She is a provider, a missionary, and an advocate for the voiceless. She sees injustice and poverty and takes a stand. She has a vision for a better world, and she will not take indifference for an answer. (“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy,” v.20)
She knows who she is, stands firm in truth, and follows the Lord with relentless passion and obedience. She knows that her strength comes from Him, and because of this she laughs in the face of danger and uncertainty, for she knows she is a daughter of the One who has written her story and stands for her protection. She is confident, radiant, and surely has her own voice in matters. She knows that Christ has her back, even when things are messy, uncertain, or unconventional, and she lives to the fullest knowing this truth. (“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue,” v.25-26)
And she isnʼt afraid to let her curly mane fly. She knows she is made uniquely and specifically in the image of the Lord, crafted by His hands as a masterpiece, wild hair, bushy eye brows, pierced nose and all. Her beauty is born in her passion for the Kingdom of God and His unending love for her, which pours freely onto those around her through her beautiful, honest faith. (“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,”v.30)
With closer inspection, I begin to notice that the Proverbs 31 Woman isnʼt who I pegged her to be at all. She isnʼt so soft spoken, not so perfectly manicured, not so sunshine, daisies, and decked out in Lilly Pulitzer. When I look a little closer at the Proverbs 31 Woman, I start to find it easier to believe that were she walking the streets in 2013, she would have wild hair, little kids with hipster names, or running a blog where she shares her beliefs and battles and lessons from the Lord. Iʼd even dare to say she even wears yoga pants in public when laundry day rolls around or owns an ugly sweater which is shamefully comfortable!
Or maybe she is quiet, reserved, and a domestic goddess. Maybe she loves books and education and learning. Maybe she is better with numbers than words, or works full time instead of staying at home.
Maybe it isn’t about her outward appearance, her interests, or how often she speaks. The Proverbs 31 Woman isn’t a physical appearance, a personality trait, or a single mold, cookie cutter woman. She is you, she is me, she is a daughter of Christ. The Proverbs 31 Woman is simply a woman who realizes her identity in Christ and has decided to walk in His will for her life.
She is real, she is messy, and she is a confident, strong daughter of the Lord who isnʼt afraid to be honest about where she is.
And that is something any woman can achieve, no matter how loud, how quiet, how broken, how pure, how domestic, how savvy with a take out menu.
It isn’t a physical or psychological trait, it’s a posture of the heart.
Proverbs 31 Woman, I’m sorry I lashed out at you for so long and so harshly. Sometimes we make snap judgements, and I’m sure you have done it too. Maybe instead of letting this grudge sit between us, we can grab a cup of coffee sometime and get to know each other better?
Because from the looks of things, I have a feeling we have a lot more in common than anyone has thought before.
Art credit: Pinterest