I'm currently listening to Quieting the Shout of Should by Crystal Stine. I think it's a great book for removing pressure from ourselves and living into the woman God made us to be. I think you'll really enjoy it! She also has great discussion/workbook/book club ideas to really dig deep with making changes.
Earlier this week I was at the point where she was covering the Proverbs 31 woman. I had to sigh a bit.
If you are unfamiliar with her, please allow me to give you a brief introduction before I explain why I sighed about her.
Verse 1 says the passage is about King Lemuel and the Benson Commentary says that King Lemuel discussed is King Solomon. In this chapter of Proverbs, the king's mother is giving him advice for the sort of ideal woman - perfect housewife, chaste helpmate, upright, God-fearing, economical, wise - her son should seek to find.
Let's look at the details:
A Wife of Noble Character
10Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
19Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
22She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
31Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
I'm not sure what you think of this passage, but I always get a bit overwhelmed.
She rises early, prepares for her entire household (including servants!), she is a businesswoman as well as a caring wife, mother, and community leader.
My average day does not often look like that. While I do try to get up early for a bit of calm before the storm, it's often interrupted by feisty dogs and stressful worries about the day ahead. Then the kids get up and want to know what to eat for breakfast, and the dogs are still feisty, and my husband wonders if his scrubs are clean for work, and my students have questions (and complaints), and Jesus is calling to my heart, and my parents are aging, and the boars (we have a farm) are out of water, and on and on and on.
Can you relate? What does your crazy life look like? Is it as put-together as our #Proverbs31Woman?
Can you see why I sigh about her? ☺️
Here's what I learned from Crystal that completely changed how I see the #Proverbs31Woman. She pointed out that most of us read this passage as a list of "shoulds." We read it as "I should rise early and be a businesswoman," or "I should be a perfect mom so my kids will call me blessed." But Crystal points out that it's NOT a list of what we SHOULD do.
This sweet woman described in Proverbs 31 is more ideal than typical, more symbolic than real. The Proverbs 31 woman symbolizes that ideal woman we would all want for our sons. She's aspirational and we all exhibit parts of this wonderful woman.
This shift from "I should do everything like the Proverbs 31 woman" to "the Proverbs 31 woman is a beautiful aspiration for those of us who "desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful, and honourable." I love knowing that we don't need to look just like her. We can be ourselves with the same goals that she has - to be hardworking, trustworthy, loving, devoted, and wise.
Our three ways to embrace the Proverbs 31 woman are:
View her as aspirational. Exchnage "I should be like her" to "what do I already do that shows I care for my family?"
Pray her for your children. Wouldn't we all want our son to marry a woman with those goals (or our daughter to want to aspire to those goals)? Pray it ahead of time!
Identify the goals you see in the reading (they don't have to be the ones I outlined here). Then spend time in prayer about how God thinks you can be your own Proverbs 31 woman in the life He's given you. Then praise Him!
Does this change how you see the role of the Proverbs 31 woman as she relates to you? How do you see yourself exhibiting those goals of being hardworking, trustworthy, loving, devoted, and wise in today's time period?
Don't forget to check out Quieting the Shout of Should - I think you'll enjoy it as much as I am.