With Mother’s Day approaching quickly and spending an entire week studying the book of Ruth, my mind has been centered on virtuous women. I even did a post recently about my mother’s hands and how much she inspires me to want to do good.
This naturally led me to Proverbs 31 and honestly, I got really discouraged for a minute. I don’t think men realize how much of a battle it is for women when it comes to comparison.
We compare our bodies, our children, our wardrobe, we compare our homes, our food, our shoes, the love for our men, our organizational skills, our kindness, our productivity, etc. Our minds just don’t stop and everything connects together. A man’s mind..well..most things are independent of each other. It’s really challenging for them to understand why women get so overwhelmed.
There is a lot of pressure for women to be Pinterest women, Pinterest moms, Pinterest wives. And as I started reading Proverbs 31 – typical for this time of year – I started wailing on myself for not living up to all of those expectations. I was falling short here and falling short there. I wasn’t good enough here and kinda good there.
I mean, check out this list:
The Proverbs 31 Woman Checklist
Her husband trusts her without reserve and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful. She treats him generously all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Okay, so I don’t have a husband, I don’t know how to knit, I don’t sail and bring back exotic surprises, you can’t get me up before dawn and my 12 year-old makes her own breakfast and lunch, I don’t get dressed before I drink my coffee, I could probably be more diligent with my homemaking, I don’t assist every person in need, I don’t make my own clothing or sell it, I don’t always face tomorrow with a smile, sometimes I’m not kind when I speak, I don’t always keep my children busy and productive, and my 12 year-old wishes I’d disappear most of the time so I’ll stop telling her what to do.
And then I stopped myself.
I promised myself that this would be a year of truth for me – a year of making a habit to speak truth to myself and ignore the whispers from others that make me feel like less of a woman.
I started thinking about Ruth and how she isn’t considered a woman of valor because she checked things off a Proverbs 31 list or a Pinterest list.
She didn’t mend clothes. She worked in a field.
For a long time, she didn’t even have a husband. She was a widow, making it through life on her own. She had no husband to wake up early for and make breakfast and no children to be an example for. She didn’t have a glamorous job – she sweat all day out in the sun, working hard with her hands, gathering wheat. She didn’t have her own land on which to plant a garden.
She is considered a woman of virtue because she was brave and wise. It was in how she lived her life that spoke of the kind of woman she was. In fact, her soon-to-be husband boasted about her saying, “Everybody in town knows what a courageous woman you are – a real prize!” and it surely wasn’t because she was able to check off the Proverbs 31 list.
We put a ton of pressure on ourselves. We feel like we don’t live up to a certain standard. We feel like we fall short all the time.
Did you know that Proverbs 31 is intended for men to read? You’re not even intended to be the poem’s audience! In fact, the only instruction outlined in the poem is for men:
Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!”
It’s a poem. It’s a song of celebration and praise for women.
It’s not about what you do – it’s about how you do it.
So whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a small business owner, a farmer, a nurse, an advertising executive, an author, a grandmother, a teacher, a waitress, a gardener, or a stationary designer – YOU can be a Proverbs 31 woman.
You can be a stay-at-home mom with gusto. You can be a grandmother with valor. You can be a virtuous teacher. The point is, that as long as you live a life fearing the Lord, you will be a Proverbs 31 woman and God will be what you’re not.
Stop comparing yourself. There is only one like you and God has assigned you a very specific task that nobody else can complete. It’s like comparing a cow with a tiger. They’re two very different animals. They don’t stop and think about how they should be more like a goat. A cow acts like a cow and a tiger acts like a tiger.
If you’re trying, you’re doing well, sweet lady.
Here’s my poem for you. I hope it brings some encouragement to you today:
Written by Kelly, Lettered Roots
If I could sing a song to you, it would speak in odes of truth,
Not puffed up expectations, but the kind that yells of proof.
You’re beautiful, God tells you so in Psalm 139,
He says you’re fearfully and wonderfully made – you’re gloriously divine.
It’s not fancy clothes or jewelry that makes you and defines,
It’s what’s inside your heart and soul, not the world’s mistaken lines.
You were knit together beautifully, inside you’re brave and strong,
God’s got special plans for you, so stop looking at all the wrong.
Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, even insecure,
Remember the God to whom you belong, powerful liberator.
Galatians 3 claims your position as the daughter of a King,
Romans 5 says you’re worth it, to that is where you cling.
Not to the empty lies like arrows shooting to your heart,
that hit all of your sweet spots and rip your soul apart.
Be joyful like John 15, be free like in John 8,
Pull off those chains and run in truth right to God’s clean slate.
He wipes away your tears and holds them in his hand,
He knows all of your fears, he’ll always understand.
Perfection is impossible, comparison it haunts,
Press into him for everything, that’s all that our God wants.
For if you do, those things that God promises are true,
Will yell louder than all the deceitful lies screaming out at you.
Sweet woman: you’re smart, you’re worth it, you’re absolutely fine,
Just shift your perspective and focus back on God who says, “you’re mine“.
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