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 I’m not saying the Bible is out of date or out of style or worse, not true.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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