This morning, it was my turn to teach our women’s Bible class. We rotate teachers and have quite a variety of women up front so that we can have lots of perspectives and so no one person has to add such a large responsibility to our already full lives.
Today’s topic? That pinnacle of perfection, the Proverbs 31 woman.
Yeah. Me. Go figure.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been mulling this over, trying to figure out what in the world to say about this woman I’ve had a love/hate relationship with all my life. There was no way I wanted to give the impression that I had all the answers or that I embodied that set of verses. I considered taking pictures of my house and having them scroll through a slideshow behind me the whole time I talked. The sink often looks like this:
And the laundry — more often than not — resembles this, only my basket’s not that pretty and the clothes are not that colorful and attractive.
So instead of reading through the verses again to a group of women who could most likely quote them already, I just put it out there: What do you think of — what is your gut level reaction — when you hear the words, “the Proverbs 31 woman”? What does she do? How does she make you feel?
Wow. Talk about responses. Words like example and perfect and accomplished came up. So did phrases like I hate her and she had servants. 🙂 It was noted that though a lot is said about what she does, nothing is said about how she feels. Was she as tired as we are?
Then, I asked the women to think about what they do each day in their own lives and how they feel about it. It didn’t take much discussion for us to realize that although most of us live with the feeling that we will never measure up to the mythical P31 woman, we are actually doing a pretty good job.
We get up early to grab a few quiet moments. We make sure our families have something to eat. We work in the home and outside the home. We help support our family financially. We are involved in our communities. We are trying to raise our children to love the Lord, and we help our husband by letting him know when his slacks and shirt do not match or that he has shaving cream behind his left ear. We stay up late, even if it’s just so we can have a few minutes of quiet before going to bed. We may not have servants, but we do have microwaves, dishwashers, and washers and dryers.
Some big picture points that were brought up? Here’s a short list:
- Men should never be allowed to preach/teach about the P31 woman. Ever. Especially on Mother’s Day.
- This is poetry, not doctrine, theology, or how-to-live-your-life each day. POETRY. Imagery. Idealism.
- This is not a picture of one day in one woman’s life. This is the picture of the accomplishments of a lifetime. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still waiting on that ‘children rise up and called her blessed’ part. I don’t think I did that for my mom until I was about 40.
- This is a mother-in-law’s vision of the daughter-in-law she hopes to have some day. Seriously. Read the first verse of the chapter.
- In the original language, this passage was a –what’s it called when each verse begins with a different letter of the alphabet? I don’t know, but it’s one of those. It was probably taught to young girls and Martha of Bethany may have had this list in her head when she got busy trying to do everything to serve Jesus. What did Jesus say? The truly noble woman chooses the important thing: listening to him.
So — no more guilt. No more intimidation. No more feeling like you don’t measure up. If you are getting up and doing what you can each day, then you are doing what God calls you to do. It’s OK if the laundry doesn’t get done. It’s OK if you eat quick food instead of home ground, home made bread. It’s OK if you work outside the home and your children go to public schools. Really. It’s OK.
Who can find a virtuous woman? Well, I think I know a whole bunch of ’em!