Happy hump day (again)! During this time of Thanksgiving, I've been meditating a lot on Proverbs 31. This past year has been a year that showed me how unladylike I am. Not in the bad, chew-with-your-mouth-open and curse way (heck, men shouldn't do that either!), but simply just not being a traditional lady.
There are good and bad things to breaking the traditional mold of a "lady", but I wanted to go back to the Word and reflect on what it means to be a woman of God. The Bible doesn't define a woman of God by her looks or mannerisms, but by her actions and character.
"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." - Proverbs 31:10-31
Yikes, this is a huge long chunk of text. To break it down, here are some of the main points that I've gathered that really convicted me: 1. A woman of God is able to stand on her own two feet, because she is leaning on Him for strength.
2. She works hard to help provide for the family (and her husband acknowledges and appreciates her work!) 3. She is wise in making decisions for the family. 4. She is a leader through her actions to both her children and society.
5. She understands her worth and continues to serve humbly to her family and community.
God is very clear here: men and women may be DIFFERENT, but it doesn't not mean that they aren't EQUAL. Women are not called to lean on men, but to lean on God; "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised". We are not called to be charming and look pretty to get a man to pay for our meal, we are called to work hard and even give to the poor and needy. We lead our family through serving them and providing for them.
Despite times being very different now than thousands of years ago, these traits still are applicable. It doesn't mean we have to make our own clothing for our family and find a vineyard to buy, but it does mean that we should lean on God. It means that God created woman ABLE to serve and provide, and we should! We are not a "weaker sex", au contraire, we are very much blessed with just as much responsibility and ability as our male counterparts.
For me, I often have a view of how a woman should be very fragile and modest, because that is how I have been taught. I've been told that I shouldn't be "able" to do everything myself, and I should act weaker and at least pretend that I am incapable. I've been told I needed to look pretty and pamper myself so that a man will want to take care of me. It is a very secular, patriarchal, and traditional way of viewing a "woman", but it is what I was raised with. In reflecting upon Proverbs 31, I am very challenged to ask myself, "What God created me capable of, and how I can serve with what abilities He's given me? In what ways am I not leaning on God for support, and trying to substitute His abilities with another crutch?" Being a woman does not give us any excuse to rely on anyone or anything else but God -- we have just as much right as a man to pray to God, repent of sin, serve, and take action.