Proverbs 31, a classic verse imparted by the mother of King Lemuel, her overflowing wisdom he immortalized into this savory poem that women today peruse for moral guidance. In it are the qualities a man should be looking for in a wife.
Whether you've encountered this Bible verse before or not, we all have more or less an idea of what it takes to be a great woman, yes, including society's expectations of us that for ages seem to have a recurring theme, a theme that's leaning more toward nurturing and caring for a family. Notice how most of the lines in the verse speak of the woman completing her spouse, her role always had something to do about him, to quote, 'Her husband is respected at the city gate...' as a result of her deeds.
It was only until recently that her role has expanded to leading and building which have long been for the guys. Full-circle, we came from wearing the daughter, wife, or mother hat to a load of hats--CEO, working mom, the breadwinner, globe trotter, sometimes we even wear several at once. And with these ever-changing unwritten rules of conduct women have to conform to, it's no surprise that we come at a crossroads on what we are and who we are supposed to serve. The truth is womanhood can be a complex role to decipher.
That very verse that represents what we aspired to become when we grow up would eventually be the most daunting list to even peek at. Let's be honest, to dress our kids with the fanciest clothes, to succeed in trade, to sew beddings with premium linen, to afford a field and make a thriving vineyard out of it, don't all these sound like an unreachable stretch, things that a woman can't do all by herself.
Even if the context of this passage, when there was a clear divide on gender roles, highly differs from that of today, we'll look past these stereotypes with a modern lens and see how you could still embody the Proverbs 31 woman of today's world.
Let's dissect some of the lines:
13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
Capable women seize the day, fill their day up with tasks all in line with their mission. They don't simply keep busy but they waste no time and are intentional with everything they do, making sure that their every move leads up to the accomplishment of their goals both short- and long-term. They are innate leaders able to take initiative in chaotic situations and facilitate discussion for a good outcome.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
The Proverbs 31 woman vows to provide for not only for her loved ones' sustenance, making sure that all their needs are met, but also invests her time and energy in helping them prosper. She is not rash but rather strategic in her decisions. She prepares for worst-case scenarios and is not fazed in times of immense adversity, grace under pressure personified.
12 She brings him (husband) good, not harm, all the days of her life.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
A strong woman strives for what's right, what's good for everyone. She stands up against any form of injustice and supports noble causes. She shows she cares in her own way and is thoughtful of her speech and deeds. With her wisdom and dignity, she brings other women up and creates an empowering environment. Above all, she is god-fearing.
Proverbs 31 isn't the cookie-cutter definition of a woman. It's all the things she can be which is a lot of things, not just being married or a mother. The Proverbs 31 woman has been you all along. You are 'more precious than rubies' for chasing your dreams and making a positive impact around you.
Do you know a Proverbs 31 Woman? She might like this throw blanket this Mother’s Day.