Proverbs 31 Woman Woes

Ever feel done-in before you even get out of bed in the morning?
You’re so sure you can’t get it all done, let alone do it all well, that you’d rather pull the covers
over your head in utter avoidance, than face the day in all its daunting weight?
Whatever happened to “joy in the morning”? Already at this early hour, you feel
yourself crushing under the weight of the standards you’ve determined to
attain. Yep. Been there. (Confessions of a raging perfectionist.)
Under the blankets we go, to that miserable “every other [insert
role here] is a better [mom/wife/employee, etc.] than me” place, devoid of the fresh
air of perspective, before our feet have even hit the floor. Of course, the
urge to seek refuge beneath a blanket fort of lethargy can occur any time of
the day (and sometimes repeatedly), when the pressure to measure up threatens
to swallow us whole. Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs, but Lord, have mercy…it’s
tough being a woman trying to keep up! Like a pregnant salmon struggling
upstream, we can feel at times.
Sometimes (certainly in these blanketed moments), I feel like
the Proverbs 31 woman haunts me, beating me over the head with her staggering list
of exemplary achievements. I want to shout, “Be gone, you ethereal, perfect woman!” I mean, really! How
could one woman accomplish so much in 24 hours?
There I am, racing around my house to knock out a few tasks in
the little “free” time (of children, that is) I have as a mom, with piles of
laundry up to my armpits, grimy dishes towering in the sink and toilets
screaming to be scrubbed, and I’m typically lucky to cross a whopping two items
off my list before it’s time to pick up kids, help with homework, make dinner,
etc…etc…ETC! Meanwhile, my friend Mrs. P31 over there in the Old Testament has
kicked my backside to the curb with the day’s worth of duties she’s conquered,
to my pitiful TWO. Don’t mistake my rant for bitterness…I adore my life as a
wife and mom—truly! But sometimes I feel like that exhausted, expectant mama
salmon—beaten down by a swift current of expectations, and downright
discouraged.
To be fair, it’s debatable whether the Proverbs 31 woman is
really one woman, or women. Representative
of several women and their collective virtues, that is. Well now, that would
change things, wouldn’t it?!? Just like God didn’t mean for us to feel like
failures in the shadow of the illustrious Wife of Noble Character, I imagine it
makes His heart bleed to see us hanging our heads when holding our
accomplishments up to another woman’s impressive resume.
Our tendency as women to live in another’s shadow leaves us
vulnerable to the dreaded comparison game…where no one (but the evil one) emerges a winner. The rules of this game (authored
by Coach Satan, himself) involve mercilessly beating ourselves up when we don’t
attain our self-authored standards, which instead we perceive another person to
have achieved, as we envision them towering over us in stature, holiness, and
general awesomeness. Inwardly, we despise ourselves for not measuring up, and
we despise the person we’ve put ourselves up against for being so “perfect”,
resulting in relational fissures. It’s a potential-poisoning cycle, effectively
squashing our productivity and Christ-like progress, as we wallow in defeat. “Bingo!”
The coach smirks, the sole victor in this sinister game.
In her excellent book So
Long, Insecurity
, Beth Moore addresses this issue: “To be sure,
intimidation suffocates the life out of intimacy…Many of us are well aware that
our insecurities, given full sway, would dictate if not utterly destroy every
female friendship on the horizon…[our insecurities] turn potential friends into
competitors.” Beth goes on to demand of us gals, “Where on earth did we come up
with the idea that we have to subtract value from ourselves in order to give
credit to someone else?” Where,
indeed!! Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity.
(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2010) 276-277, 280.
Scripture encourages us to resist this destructive game: “Since
this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make
sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or as a sentiment in
our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That
means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better
and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.
Each of us is an original.” Galatians
5:25-26 (Message, emphasis mine)
To use the tired, old adage, we know that comparing apples
to oranges is a futile prospect. And that’s exactly what we are: different fruits, by Heavenly design. Different
strokes for different fruits. We’re
originals—all delicious ingredients in the fruit salad of community! And we
would do well to remember that oftentimes, with our human goggles on, we only
see the best foot—that’s the one we people
naturally put forward. At face value, we’re typically only privy to the good in
other people—not the bad and the ugly. Who wants to air that laundry?
We’d might as well look reality square in the face: there will always be someone who does more, better than us. Sounds
depressing, but this is quite the freeing realization, actually. Because it
forces us to accept that all the striving to keep up is for naught. Let’s live up to our Proverbs 31 heritage, living
in abundance by embracing our own, unique “fruitiness”, and celebrating our
differences, rather than squeezing the goodness out of our relationships through an
endless game of comparisons!

Come to the River…
But in fact God has placed the parts in
the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one
part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body..Now
you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians
12:18-27 (NIV)
Personalize…
Let’s get real: to whom in your life do you tend to compare
yourself? Work on greater awareness of this toxicity and its triggers when
you’re around her, pruning it right away as a dead branch.  

6 thoughts on “Proverbs 31 Woman Woes

  1. The Pr 31 woman is "representative of several women and their collective virtues." Many of those women are described throughout the Bible.

    A wife of noble character who can find? (Pr 31:10A) Ruth was know as a woman of noble character (Ru 3:11). Like the Pro 31 woman, Lydia was a woman of noble character. The name “Lydia” means noble. … she is clothed in fine linen and purple (Pr 31:22 B). Lydia sold purple cloth
    (Ac 16:14). Both Lydia and the Pro 31 woman were merchants.

    She has been like a merchant’s ship that brings its merchandise from far away (Pr 31:14). The Queen of Sheba literally brought Solomon large quantities of spices from far away. (1 Ki 10:6-10). Reward her
    for her work— let her actions result in public praise (Pr 31:31). The Queen of Sheba’s quest for wisdom brought her public praise. Queen of Sheba is one of the few women Jesus celebrates from the OT(Ma 12:42). She came from afar to hear the wisdom of a mere man. She was amazed at
    what she saw and heard. However, when Jesus who was greater than Solomon came, many despised, rejected, slighted and slandered Him.

    Doesn’t let her lamp go out… (Pr 31:18b). The wise virgin didn’t allow her lamp to go out. She was prepared when Bridegroom came (Ma 25:1-12). Anna’s lamp didn’t go out at night because she worshiped God day and night by fasting and praying (Lu 2:36-38).

    Helps the poor (Pr 31:20). Dorcas helped the poor (Ac 9:36).

    … speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue (Pr 31:26). Wise Woman of Abel’s instruction saved her city (2 Sa 20:19-22). Pilate’s wife spoke with wisdom and faithful instruction(Ma
    27:19). Huldah spoke with wisdom and sent the king a message from God (2 Ki 22:14-20). Deborah wisely instructed the people of Israel (Ju chapter 4 & 5). Esther spoke wisely to the king and helped save the Jews from annihilation (Book of Esther). Priscilla helped her husband
    give Apollos wise and faithful instruction (Ac 18:26).

    She watches over the affairs of her household (Pr 31:27a).
    Rahab “watched over the affairs of her household.” She wisely and faithfully “instructed” the spies about how to hide and escape. She negotiated a plan that saved her life and the lives of those in her
    house (He 11:31).

    Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all (Pr 31:29). Like Pr 31 woman, these women were also called blessed. Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be
    blessed above all women who live in tents (Ju 5:24). Mary – Thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women (Lu 1:28).

    She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life (Pr 31:12). Because Zipporah was proactive God’s anger against Moses was calmed and his life was spared (Ex 4:14-20).

  2. Many of the attributes used to describe the Pr 31 woman apply to men also.
    She will do him good … (v.12).
    As believers, men and women are admonished to "do good" to our enemies (Lu 6:27, 35).
    Christian men and women are admonished to "do good" and to share with others (He 13:16).
    She … works with eager hands (v.13).
    Christian men and women are called to live a quiet lives, mind our business and "work with our hands" … (1 Th 4:11).
    She … does not eat the bread of idleness (v.27).
    Paul proclaimed the value of hard work and sternly warned men and women not to be idle (2 Th 3:6-12).
    She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue (v.26).
    The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just (Ps 37:30).
    She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy (v.20).
    Christian men and women are called to care for the poor and needy (Ma 25:34-40).
    The most emphasized Proverbs are usually the ones about women and wives. However, many of the virtues listed in Pr 31 are for the entire body of Christ.

  3. Excellent reminder! I often (like almost every day of my life) feel the burden you are talking about. Such freedom can be found in the truths you have shared 🙂 Thanks!

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