Proverbs 31: Impeccable Balance

tightrope-walker

Being a child to a mother that was willing absent in my upbringing-an example of what I was supposed to be like as a young girl, a young lady-then a woman-was not missing-but more confusing than anything. The women I did have around me were amazing-they did their best to help take care of me and show me motherly love. I had aunts. I had a grandmother. I had a step mom-but not that one motherly figure who encompassed and embodied all the characteristics and fields of womanhood, all at one time. Perhaps they did, and perhaps they still do-but the ability to pick and define as a child what is womanly-what is motherly or what was wife-like was the reality for me. And as you know, children can be choosy. Kids pick what they like. So each of these women defined the different attributes of womanhood to me-not as a whole-but in unfitting pieces. I picked who represented what to me. Seeing it being balanced in one woman wasn’t something that was apparent to me.

I don’t share this for empathy. I share it because now I am grown and life demands its way with me. I must wear many hats-I can’t create multiples of myself to wear each hat, but I must create a balance and know when to change hats and do so gracefully.

Truth is, out of the wonderful women in my life I couldn’t just pick and choose what a woman was supposed to be like-I truly needed to be intentional about defining these qualities because unfortunately I didn’t have a natural model to follow.

I needed to know how to be a friend, and daughter, a sister. I needed to redefine what it was to be ladylike, and brave. Eventually a wife, and mother, all while delivering my best to a trade or career. Daring, but respectful. Purposeful and balanced-a woman of God. A woman of faith, but steadily refining and bettering her reality. I had to practice this without comparing and contrasting myself to the women I watched growing up-those women again separately demonstrated their womanly capabilities-but combining them all in one person-wasn’t realistic to me because I was uncertain how to make it happen.

As I grew older-and inevitably accumulated more hats-it became more crucial that I learned this balance-that I used a feasible reference to emulate. Surely society wasn’t the best choice-since the way women are supposed to “act” and roles we should and shouldn’t take on regardless of the unfolding of life-consistently changed. And after trying over and over again to create my ying and yang I did as I usually do when I can’t figure something out, I got myself around my faith.

I’ve read Proverbs many times-meditating on their meanings- that is what I have lacked. The wisdom pressed out in this book is valuable and life giving. Ranges from money advice, to warnings against being lazy-to the attitude you should have toward your friends and parents-you cannot really go wrong. One Proverb in particular defines the ideal woman-it truly unpacks timeless characteristics of an impeccably balanced woman. I recently started to crack open the words of this proverb and it’s meaning for me as a modern day female. Here is the proverb in the New Living Translation:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm
She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Like I said I’ve read it several times prior to actually meditating it as it relates to me. I mean I can’t relate to spinning grain-I can’t relate to going into the fields and collecting my yields-or making my own clothing. In fact let me be clear, I cannot even relate to being a wife because I am not married.

I asked God to use his word to reveal to me what and how I can take the unnamed woman in Proverbs 31, and identify with her. I mean she seems like she has it together. She seems unnervingly balanced and whole. Far from what I saw in myself, but nonetheless what I wanted to reflect on in my own life.

That is when I realized that the things this lady does in this passage are not there to describe what I should be doing-but how I should be doing whatever it is I am called to do. Her actions are carried out by her character. No I don’t need to spin grain, and no I do not necessarily need to get married-but the lot I do occupy in life-and how well I am able to preserve it-will ultimately be a reflection of my God-given abilities. This woman, she flourishes in all the things she sets her hand to. She’s giving, she’s caring, she’s profitable-she is a beacon of hope to those that deal with her. And she fears God. The passage is testimony to the beauty us women hold and the capacity we have to extend beyond ourselves. The proverb captures balance. It captures an attitude that allows her to balance-or wear-all these hats that she owns and have been presented to her. It captures a fearless pursuit of womanhood, a clear depiction on how to do life as a woman-and do it well.

The century-or time-does not define this woman. Her momentum, her perspective, her love for all things of God-this is what propels this woman into her success. Her understanding as to where to place her concerns and what is important is her strong suit. Her ability to balance all her responsibilities is truly refined by her faith. I encourage all women-myself included-to seek this out in our own lives. We should walk in and embrace our full capacity, and let our faith bridge the gap between that and our ability.

Be the woman you were placed here to be. Women-you bring a sense of wholesomeness and comfort. We bring this to the table with grace. We were created to carry out those characteristics of God that are unobtainable without the anointing of your Maker. Women were chosen to be a source of life-in literal terms and spiritual grounds as well.  We make our mark by utilizing the strength and abilities that God placed in women, and women alone-without us it is an unprecedented strength. Do all you can, with what you have and where you are at. Fear God and nothing else.

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