Am I the only one who reads Proverbs 31 and starts humming "The Work Song" from the movie Cinderella? You know the one…
Night and day it's Cinderelly
Make the fire, fix the breakfast
Wash the dishes, do the mopping
And the sweeping and the dusting
They always keep her hopping…"
I'm gonna be real with you. The woman that is described in that chapter sounds like an exhausted wreck to me. I'm just sayin'. It would be impossible to be that woman!! I've actually heard people use this passage of Scripture to try to encourage – (clears throat) browbeat – a woman to be more like the woman she's expected to be.
When something hits me on such a discordant note when I read the Bible, I just have to dig a little deeper. I have to study what was really meant by the author or what needs to change in my thought process or belief system. Here's some of what I've found in this case.
First of all, in reading the full chapter of Proverbs 31, and doing my best to set aside the preconceived ideas I had formed, I noted something I hadn't before. This chapter is written to men, not women. I checked into it, and found out that in some cultures men are actually expected to memorize this chapter – not because they should form an unreasonable goal in finding a good wife, but to make sure they keep in mind what's truly important. Verse 30 says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (NIV)
These verses are actually a poem written in celebration of the wisdom of a woman of noble character. I think of it as showing us a picture of what wisdom in action looks like. Verse 31 says to "give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!" (MSG)
This really has changed my perception of that chapter. It lines up much more with what I feel from Father. He's not raising an eyebrow and putting checkmarks beside the verses of Proverbs 31 that I still need to work on. Instead, he's urging me to draw closer to Him and hear what he has to say about me – his creation, his friend, his daughter. He wants me to be the woman he created me to be, not the woman others expect me to be.
So yes, there are still chores that need to be done. There is life to live. There is an office to work in. There are meals to cook. But, that's not who I am. That is just one part of what wisdom in action looks like in my life. I am determined to hear from God who I am. I am a woman of valor. I am His creation. I am learning more and more about who He is and becoming a woman who reflects Him more clearly.
That takes away some of the pressure I’ve been putting on myself. I can dust off the cinders and raise my head high. I can say of God, "Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it." (Psalms 139:14)
Why? Because I am a Proverbs 31 woman.