Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reflections - Proverbs 31

Well, I survived Lilly's first birthday without tears... amazing, isn't it? My guess is that it's probably due to the fact that I'm still in denial about the whole thing and instead of telling people she's one, I'm just going to respond with "twelve months."
"How old is he?"
"Forty-eight months."
Who can name the movie???
Sorry... couldn't resist. But anyway, let's get to it, shall we? Today is all about the Proverbs 31 Woman. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, you can read all about her here, starting at verse 10. And just as a little tip when reading your Bible (since I know it can be intimidating), sites like YouVersion, which is where I directed you, are great because you can read the same passage in different translations. I personally cannot understand what I'm reading in the King James version... all of the thy's and thus's cloud the meaning for me, but it works for some people. And sometimes when I read something even in the New International Version, which is my preference, I still don't quite get the gist of it and switch over to something like The Message, which is a paraphrase of Scripture and reads more like a book. If you want to memorize scripture, this would not be the the version to use for that, but it's a great reference for helping you dig deeper and understanding something that is unclear. Just a sidenote... let's get back to the point, okay?
Growing up, I was unfamiliar with the Proverbs 31 woman- or the "wife of noble character" as it reads in the NIV translation. It wasn't even until I got married and actually started studying my Bible that I learned of her, and of course I wanted to know what she was all about since I was a new wife myself. And the farther I got down the page, the more and more inadequate I felt! Sure, some of these things don't seem too difficult... she brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Okay, check... well, most days anyway. Well wait, if I don't do that all the time, does it count? And as I keep reading, I see that I don't do any of these things all the time! I feel like I provide for my family, but I certainly don't cook every night! And when have I ever bought a field and planted a vineyard? In fact, when have I ever planted anything that actually survived?  I don't sew, I say some pretty dumb stuff from time to time so I certainly do not show wisdom all the time, and as much as I try to work hard, sometimes I do get lazy and let things go. So my question is, have I failed? And that's when I close my Bible and start to really dislike this woman... who does she think she is anyway?
I think so many of us feel this way because we misuse this Scripture. Think about the Bible as a whole and what it provides. The Word is a guide-book providing us with so many great instructions on how to live life to it's fullest, serve others, and above all love. I never read my Bible and feel like a total failure- in fact it's quite the opposite. More often than not I read through it and am encouraged, uplifted, and my perspective changes for the better. I want to live a better, fuller, richer life, but I am also aware that I am a work in progress. In fact, the Bible tells me that, too.
So why then is Proverbs 31 so different? Well, I think it's because at some point women became so competitive. I'm sure the world of Facebook and blogs doesn't help because we're constantly comparing ourselves to someone else, who we think does it better and "has it all." Let me just tell you that nobody has it all... it's impossible. And not only that, but everyone is made differently, with different talents, gifts, and abilities. I desperately wish that I was a woman who got up before sunrise, had my quiet time, and then spent an hour on some sort of beauty routine and looked presentable and put together all day. I'm currently working on that first and second step, but let me just tell you that I find it exhausting to have perfect hair and make-up all day... I really do! Not to mention that I feel like once it's done, my hair will frizz and my mascara will run in a matter of minutes. There are some girls who are blessed and gifted in this department, and well, I'm trying, okay? Isn't that enough? And why, as women do we do this? Why do we compare ourselves... not only to each other, but to this 31 woman? Comparing will always lead us to failure, but striving toward will always result in positive results. Let's instead see her as a model for us as wives rather than a woman who "has it all." And seeing that we live in modern times that would not necessarily mean spinning wool but rather clothing our families with the resources we were provided, whether that means shopping at Baby Gap or Goodwill, depending on your situation. Some of us have jobs outside the home and bring in an income where others earn our place in the family through serving the family all day long, which is no easy task. As long as we're doing these things diligently and joyfully, I think we strive to be more like this model. Some of us cook elaborate dinners and others, like me, struggle to put something together, but yet still manage to feed our families and keep food in the pantry, and I think that's okay, too. Rather than being so hard on ourselves, let's start encouraging one another, complimenting each other, and how about this... asking each other how we can help? If we all worked together to be the women God wants us to be, what a beautiful thing that would be, right?
I was going to end this there today, but my friend Jessica taught me something that I didn't know before yesterday and I love it so much that I just have to share. She learned that in Jewish tradition, Proverbs 31 is treated as a blessing, and husbands recite it to their wives at certain sabbath dinners... how beautiful is that? The Bible says that the devil cannot curse that which is blessed, so imagine if we blessed the wives in this world with these words and treated this as more of a prayer and less of an impossible standard. Wherever you are and however you feel about this, know today that God has placed you where you are for a reason, whether that's in the home or outside of the home, making money or feeling like you're only spending it, and all He expects is for us to strive to always be better, but knows that we're always far from perfect. I pray this blessing on all of you wonderful wives, mothers, and women who read this today.
If you have a great post about Proverbs 31, whether it's your own or someone else's that's worth reading, please leave the link in the comments as I'd love to check it out!


  1. Beautiful post, Kim!
    The tidbit about using Proverbs 31 as a blessing I learned from Rachel Held Evans, and I can't find the exact post where she first mentioned it to link, but she's written a lot about womanhood, so here's the link to that whole topic tag on her blog!

  2. Great post! They read Proverbs 31 at my Granny's funeral and I remember thinking "I hope I'm worthy of that someday." I love love love that Jewish tradition, and the idea of reading it as a blessing/prayer instead of as a checklist we don't live up to (which is how I read it). I kinda chuckled when I read Proverbs 31 tonight and realized King Lemuel's Momma taught him this. She sure set the standard high for her future daughter in-law...sheesh!