Even though you try to hide it, I can see your struggle. You’re playing a part to the best of your ability, but doubt and overwhelm remains. Being a good Christian wife means mastering a long list. But, you can never quite do everything on the list and instead you wonder if you’ve done enough? Are you enough? Before you start down the list again, pause and only start again when you are ready to handle yourself with care.
When was the last time you ventured into Proverbs 31? Quite honestly, I’ve avoided it for a while because it felt too hard and I couldn’t handle more pressure. As unrealistic as it seems, I translate every single verse into a checklist of sorts, a way to measure my worth and “goodness” as a wife and mama.
Line by line, the list gets longer. What starts out simple becomes overwhelming. Every part of life is described and the distance between who I am and who she is gets wider and wider. At some point, I can’t find any similarities between us. By the end, she seems perfect and I’m inadequate.
The wife of noble character.
She’s the one by whom we are all judged—wise, trustworthy, eager worker, importer, early riser, caretaker, overseer, property manager, farmer, seamstress, health and wellness advocate, planner, philanthropist, leader, merchant, teacher, and role model.
In one long run-on sentence, the overwhelming nature of my own inadequacy is summed up. I am wholly unqualified to share the same space with her. Have you ever felt the same way?
The error in our comparison
Only recently was the true purpose of the Proverbs 31 woman brought to my attention. For years I used her description as a tool to measure myself, to judge my growth and usefulness. Unfortunately, instead of growing my faith I was really increasing unnecessary pressure.
If you skip the first paragraph of Proverbs 31 you miss the meaning. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is not a real person at all. Pause a moment and exhale. She’s not real. Instead, she’s a character in a poem, the combination of characteristics and example meant to share a message.
This poem we hold in such high regard was written for a son, as teaching from his mother. With great care, she described the kind of wife who would be best for her son, a future king, the kind of woman who could complement the mission of a godly man.
Think for a minute about how you would describe the woman you would want your son to marry. Now, imagine him as someone with great responsibility, needing a partner to help lead. How would you describe your future daughter-in-law? Certainly, you want someone who helps your son be a better person, but you don’t expect her to be perfect. You offer grace as the same standard you hope is being used to measure you as a daughter-in-law.
Handle yourself with care
You must handle yourself with care when studying the purpose of Proverbs 31. Its message can encourage, or it can discourage all the same.
At some point, you’ve probably heard the Proverbs 31 woman exalted as the ideal wife and mama you should strive to be. She’s often touted as perfection, each verse picked apart as a key component. Most definitely, there’s wisdom in each verse, in the way she is described. But, you cannot be her.
More importantly, God’s not asking you to be exactly like her. (Remember, she’s not real.) When handled properly, the Proverbs 31 woman becomes a model for the freedom you have and the kind of person God wants you to be.
She shows you the opportunities you have, the ways you can serve, and the impact you make. The way she lives and works is a model for you as well.
As you study, remember to handle yourself with care. Don’t create a standard God didn’t intend or use scripture to diminish yourself. By studying the Proverbs 31 woman, we find important characteristics and a model for how to live and the wide range of opportunities for women to reach others and share the gospel.
Be Realistic. Discover the possibilities of Proverbs 31.
Enjoy the full Realistic series
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