Why That Proverbs 31 Woman Really Chaps My Hide

Proverbs 31 WomanThe Proverbs 31 woman irritates me. I think of her in my head as Mrs. Perfecta Esposa (in a snarky sort of way). Ok, maybe it’s the ideal of Perfecta that really rubs me the wrong way. Well, in all honesty, the fact that people think that anyone should live up to the standard of Perfecta just seems wrong (especially if it’s some very human male pointing out a woman’s shortcomings). Even worse, when a caregiver holds herself up to Perfecta and then slides into depression because there is just NO way one can care full time for another human being plus act like Perfecta.

People don’t understand that the woman mentioned in the epilogue of Proverbs is the ideal woman for that time and place. There are things she has that I will never have—servant girls, for starters. We don’t have that kind of money, but I’m sure if we did, I’d do a great job of portioning the needs of my maidservants.

And seriously, who can get up before the crack of dawn do all the household chores, put in a full day’s work at school AND select the flax and wool for spinning and weaving—I knew how to spin when I was little, but I haven’t found much need for that skill in the last forty years.

In addition to all of the above, I have no skills in stock market trading (although I did act as the general contractor when we built our house), nor do I have extra funds lying around to invest.

I know how to sew, and used to make church dresses for the girls when they were younger—shoot, I even made my own wedding dress and then remodeled it for our eldest daughter when she got married. But I can’t weave sashes (my skills were limited to finger weaving key chains and loop potholders in grade school), nor does my family wear scarlet when it snows (we prefer anything insulated and waterproof, thank you very much).

If the lamps don’t go out at night, it’s probably because I’m up too late trolling Facebook. While my arms work vigorously during my workouts, they complain vociferously the following day (giving me the perfect excuse to avoid housework).

Purple isn’t my favorite color, but when I can afford it, I wear linen—during the winter, though, Gore Tex products are more my style.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Bible is out of date or out of style or worse, not true. I just think that women beat themselves up because they’re not THE Proverbs 31 woman (e.g., a superwoman type).

What we often miss or overlook or ignore is the fact that Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic poem. Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This means that all of those things that the wife of noble character does happen in alphabetical order—not chronological order! Anyone who has ever had a toddler or two running around the house knows that without a nanny, mamma ain’t going to get a lot done.

But that’s ok. The reason Perfecta’s children rise up and call her blessed has a lot to do with Perfecta’s intentional parenting through each stage of her children’s lives. Believe me, I don’t think the writer had teenagers in mind when he penned those lines! Toddlers are too egocentric and pre-teens and teenagers tend to think their mother’s IQ rates the same as charcoal.

The key resides in verse 30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;/but a woman who fears the Lords is to be praised.” The ‘fear’ here is not the ‘oh-I’m-so-afraid’ kind of fear. It’s the ‘I-live-in-reverential-awe’ kind of fear.

God doesn’t expect us to meet the standards of an ideal woman. He expects us to live in awe and reverence for him. If I live a life that honors God, that other stuff will fall into place. It probably won’t happen overnight, because allowing God to rework my sinful nature will take a lifetime.

If I focus on all the ways I don’t measure up—I’m wasting my time and energies. Click To Tweet

I don’t need to compare myself to anyone (including Perfecta)—I only need to chart my progress in comparison to the woman I used to be before I accepted a personal relationship with God to change me into who he wants me to become. And that’s good news for the weary caregiver (or momma or wife or teacher or woman).

What about you? Have you ever compared yourself to the Proverbs 31 woman? Have you ever been in a caregiver season and really berated yourself or felt hopeless because there was just NO way you’d ever measure up?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • AMEN! This post is perfect! You nailed it! I cannot measure up if my measuring stick is everyone else but God. He is the only one that matters. I need to reread this over and over and get it through my head that God loves me and stands by me when the world might not. These were my favorite words today… “I don’t need to compare myself to anyone (including Perfecta)—I only need to chart my progress in comparison to the woman I used to be before I accepted a personal relationship with God to change me into who he wants me to become.” Love this and you! Thank you!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Hope in Our BlessingsMy Profile

    • Thank you for your kind words, Mary! I’m rebelling against the whole perfectionism thing and comparison game. I’m too old for that (that’s what I keep telling myself, anyway ;)).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Nothing Says L-O-V-E Like ChocolateMy Profile

      • Anita, I so agree with you…when Jesus is at the center of my life, as I am adoring Him, the things of earth (perfectionism, comparison) fade away. Many blessings to you ❤️
        Beth Willis miller recently posted…Name Above All Names–King of ZionMy Profile

  • You crack me up! Too funny!

    You’re completely right, though- there have been times that I’ve second-guessed myself by comparing myself to the Proverbs 31 woman. (“I can’t consider a field and buy it! I know nothing about fields! And my husband and I have a $100 spending limit agreement! How much field can I get for $100?!?”). It’s not helpful, and it’s not healthy.

    I’m growing in holiness and becoming more like Christ- and that’s the important thing.

  • Your post makes me smile, Anita! I think you’re so right – teenagers were not taken into account. And clearly neither were hormones because they make me less than perfect in various degrees at least 3 weeks a month. 😉 Love your perspective here – turning our hearts toward God and pursuing Him, knowing full well that we are entirely imperfect and He loves us still – that’s the key! Popping over from #tellhisstory tonight.
    Tiffany recently posted…When the Devil Comes for YouMy Profile

  • There is definitely a unique perspective that comes with age! I know I am perfectly in the center of God’s will for me, perfectly suited for what he has called me to do, and perfectly loved by Him. That’s about all the perfect I can stand! Thanks for making me smite and for encouraging me this morning, Anita!
    Christa recently posted…Find Your Next Right Step to Build Your ArkMy Profile

  • Interesting perspective here, Anita. (And your picture makes me smile!) Sometimes I think probably the woman described wasn’t doing all of those things at the same time, but rather different things on different weeks or seasons. No doubt God wants us to pursue excellence, but he also wants us to live in grace and not make a yoke out of expectations and comparisons!
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…When You Need Hope to Rescue a Bad DayMy Profile

    • Absolutely! All too often I try to ‘be perfect’ instead of developing my relationship with Perfection (God).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Do You Have a Life Plan?My Profile

  • As usual, you had me smiling all the way on this, Anita. This is Perfecta writing, friend! Thanks for these wise, and oh-so-needed words.
    Debby recently posted…Jesus Loves You, This I KnowMy Profile

  • Good to know I’m not the only one out there that just doesn’t measure up! 🙂 Thanks for these words! (Linking up from #TellHisStory and Holley’s place) sorry I haven’t made it to InspireMeMonday for the last 2 weeks… I’ve had some crazy weekends. But I’ll be back! I love your linkup!
    Rachel recently posted…When It’s Time To Be BraveMy Profile

  • Must be something in the air this February . . .
    I’ve been struggling with the not-enough stuff lately too. I know better than to compare and come up short – especially with someone who lived during OT times! But our hearts get misguided and off course, don’t they? I read elsewhere this morning that you are struggling with your writing . . . you are certainly putting out some very good stuff, so be encouraged! I appreciate your words!

    • I really enjoyed what you had to say about hope today, Michele–just what I needed! I also thank you for your kind words of affirmation.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Do You Have a Life Plan?My Profile

  • Love your picture. You had me smiling all the way through this post. And I love your final perspective – that we only need to measure where we have come from to where we are right now and where we are going – onward and upward!

    • I’m so glad I don’t have to compare myself to others–of course, I don’t HAVE to, but I often fall prey to the temptation ;).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Snow Angel BlessingsMy Profile

  • Awe! You gave her a name – made her personal. I spent years trying to follow this virtuous woman. She was elusive for sure! I could never “measure” up and started not reading her in the Bible until I got there and then “breeze” past her because I felt we couldn’t be friends. I confess I wanted her to lend me a few servant girls, but she never did. So now I get from you a better perspective…we age into our roles and that’s okay. We learn from her to do everything as unto the Lord. We learn from her that “If you do what is right in the eyes of the Lord then how can you go wrong.” I think the next time she passes by I will stop, listen and then invite her for coffee. I forget. Does she drink coffee? I’m not giving up coffee even if I befriend, Perfecta! Sorry. I’m just like you – no perfecta. Are you interested in having some coffee with me? Anything will do? Blessings, Anita. Blessings
    Christine Malkemes recently posted…Contentment Starts at DawnMy Profile

    • I’m sure she drinks non-fat decaf lattes with a dash of cayenne (oh, wait, maybe that’s me). I think you and I could sit down for coffee and have a smashing time!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Nothing Says L-O-V-E Like ChocolateMy Profile

  • I just love your humor in this post!! And Perfecta! Hysterical..this is such a thoughtful post when I got through the chuckling as I read each paragraph! I can’t stand when I start wanting to be the Proverbs woman –because deep down I know I’m just so imperfect! Thanks for visiting my blog today. Love connecting again!

  • Proverbs 31 seems way out of my league. That early morning thing wipes me out right there. But it is a beautiful picture of what we can be! You are so right that we should measure our progress and thank God for the grace to live each day to the fullest.

  • I love, love, love this. It helps so much to have a bit of humor about our humanity. Progress is progress and God is still to be praised. That, I can handle. Now off to die some silk…

  • Hey Anita, when you have a minute…go over to hopehearthome dot com and search day 31 Proverbs…my take on “HER”… I love yours!!!

  • I heard a speaker tell a story once of when someone commented that she still had more weight too loose, and she said…well I’m not where I want to be but I have come far from where I used to be! You summed it up nicely. It is about getting closer to God, getting to know our Lord better above all else. I didn’t know that this particular Proverbs was a acrostic poem based on the Hebrew alphabet. How interesting!
    Lynn J Simpson recently posted…A PromiseMy Profile

  • ;-}

    Your picture said it all, Anita. Loved, loved this!
    Linda Stoll recently posted…The Imperfect Family TableMy Profile

  • First of all I love that you made your wedding dress and redid it for your daughter. That is so special! Also, girl I hear ya. I have heard it taught that we are not supposed to do all of that at once! There are seasons for certain things. I LOVE the graphic for this post. I laughed out loud as soon as I opened it. 🙂
    Messy Mom recently posted…#Triggersbook A Giveaway!!!My Profile

  • I completely relate to your annoyance at this passage at times, especially how some people use this passage to tell women they are not enough. I love your conclusion that it is all about fearing God. He does the work in us.

  • Love the picture and the wisdom! I used to see it all the time on Facebook and think, Yeah, I’m never going to be that lady. 😉