I love all of Proverbs 31 actually. It is essentially a letter from a mother to her son about the kind of wife she desires for him. I used to read this chapter in the past and walk away so exhausted. At that time in my life, I was interested in becoming the perfect woman. I read books and did Bible studies on becoming Mrs. Right. Yes, I literally did that. At just seventeen I was intent on cultivating the perfect qualities I should have as a wife someday, and I used Proverbs 31 as a self-help checklist to help me get there. It would be the vehicle to bring me to where I saw all of the pastor’s wives around me that I aspired to be. Beautiful inside and out, soft spoken, agreeable, noncontroversial, hard working, and disciplined. I just needed to learn how to measure up against the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 and I would be like these women. But I always came away from my reading of this beautiful chapter tired and depressed. I had a million things to work on if I was ever going to be a great wife and woman. I needed to give more, work harder, be quieter, stay up later at night and get more done, spend more time with God, and do more good so that one day a man would look into my eyes and tell me I was “far more precious than jewels”. Little did I know, God had already been speaking those words to me before I could check off anything on my list. And I discovered He was the only man I needed to hear them from.
I am different now and I read these words differently. I see them not as a checklist of things I need to do, but as a celebration of woman and all of the beautiful things she brings to the world. All of the beautiful things I can bring to the world. And how desperately the world needs them. One of the most devastating things in this world is a woman’s inability to recognize the gifts she brings, in particular, her ability to clothe herself in strength and dignity and still laugh at the days to come.
When sex trafficking has become a disgustingly common epidemic, climate change threatens the future of our precious planet, and the almighty dollar can’t be trusted in, we desperately need women. Women who know their potential. Women who will rise up with the strength to change the world and fight hard for others. Women with the dignity to do so with grace and love, encouraging other women that they are also capable and called. In every major movement in history, women have had a pivotal role in making big things happen.
And we need women who can do so with laughter in their hearts, finding good in situations and bringing hope. A breathtaking balance of drive and lightheartedness. The ability to change the world with fierce determination and smiles on their faces.
That is what I see now when I read my favorite verse. I walk away from it energized and hopeful, knowing that it is not a list I don’t measure up to, but a reminder from the God I so deeply love that I am capable of big things. That all women are capable of big things if we realize our potential. It is a call to lean on Him and to allow Him to keep molding me, not to be the perfect woman, but to be all that He’s made me to be. An invaluable love letter that says I am good enough, strong enough, brave enough, and loved enough to accomplish what my heart longs for. With strength and dignity always clothing me and laughter in my heart simply because the One I love has already breathed this into me.