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As a young wife and mother trying to be the best version of me I could be, I would turn to Proverbs 31:10 - 31, looking for direction, support, and encouragement. I’d read it. I’d hear it on the radio. I’d think, “You’ve got to be kidding me, Lord! I need to do all these things, all this STUFF, to become an honorable, godly woman?” I mean, honestly, the list goes on for days and requires a skill set beyond what my young 25-year-old self had achieved. Each time the scripture came up, I felt my desperate, longing heart try to accept the words as uplifting and encouraging, all the while my internal attitude echoed that of disdain, discouragement, and yes, even rebellion. Rebellion against another set of unrealistic, unrealized expectations which I could never meet.
Just look at this list:
Her husband has her full confidence. Ok, that’s reasonable, but takes time.
She selects wool and flax. Where would I find wool and flax, and why do I need them?
She brings food from afar. I’m sorry, Lord, but I only have enough gas money to get me to Fry’s and back this week; the trip to the organic farm on the edge of town will have to wait for another lifetime.
She gets up when it is still night. Ok, well, that’s happening. Although not by choice, thank you, little person climbing into my bed at 3:25 am for snuggles.
She considers a field and buys it. Why, oh why do I want a field? This tiny, humble abode is more than enough to dust and clean.
She is a profitable trader. Does trading toothpaste coupons for diaper coupons count?
…You get the idea. The entire list seems like such a heavy, impenetrable burden.
On the other hand, I know God says, “I call all who are weary because my yolk is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, paraphrased) I understand; I do. I’ve seen God’s work But with all due respect, this scripture isn’t just heavy and burdensome. It’s downright debilitating.
So I shrugged off my attitude, dismissed the passage, and tried to ignore the guilt and shame from not measuring up. On occasion, I revisited the scripture, trying to avoid the annoying, condescending tone, hoping the tone would change. But, unfortunately, for many years, it didn’t.
And yet, I remained loyal to the God who loves me. I learned to lean in more. I learned to hear His voice. I spent time with Him and time in His community. My relationship with God changed. I learned to see myself through God’s eyes, my loving Daddy’s, instead of my own judgemental ones.
Recently I cried out, “Daddy, what’s wrong with me? I’m such an underachiever, I want to live up to Your expectations, but they are so demanding… Compared to the Proverbs 31 woman, I am a…slug!”
And then I hear a laugh. Not mine, mind you. A low, kind, dare I say amused chuckle.
“Wait, God, why are you laughing at me? Why is this funny?”
He’s still chuckling, so I guess He’s going to make me work at this.
“Am I wrong? That Proverbs 31 woman is kickin’ it. She’s the entrepreneur, wife of the year, mother of all good things. I, on the other hand…well “slothville” seems appropriate.”
God speaks clearly now…
“Dear daughter (I don't hear any anger or disappointment in His voice, in fact, He seems glad to talk to me).”
“Sweet, beautiful daughter, who said YOU had to do ALL those things? And who gave you the impression that even if you could do all those things, you need to do them concurrently or consecutively? When my scribe described this woman, did they include a time frame? Why do you feel condemnation and expect everything to happen in the same day, week, or even year?”
Me: “Ohhh! I guess, for You, the Creator of all, time is kind of a non-issue, isn’t it? Of course, You call us into seasons, but from a Kingdom perspective, time can expand or condense.
So what you are saying is that this isn’t a To-Do list meant to tie me down, burden me, and cause me stress?”
God: “Keep going…”
Me: “Could this be a picture of what any woman, all women CAN be? Is it permission granted from You, the King of Kings, for women to see all possibilities to use their gifts and talents? Within a lifetime?”
Him: “Now you’re getting it.”
Me: “But what about the Tone - the disappointed, authoritarian tone in the passage? That’s really hard to overcome.”
Him: “What tone? Read it again, my love.”
So, I reread it…And joy, victorious joy! This time, I read a Bucket List of options and ideas to experiment with and turn to for inspiration. I hear God’s creative spirit calling out all women, from all cultures and backgrounds, into a life living out their passions, interests, and callings. I imagine fireworks, songs, and color exploding behind the words of the Proverbs 31 woman passage. I hear God’s tone of love, beckoning, and empowerment.
As I sit here in bewilderment at the drastic change in the passage’s tone, I realize the scripture didn’t change. God didn’t change. Time in His Presence changed my heart…Changed my inner voice’s tone. And that a is true Victory!
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