Let me introduce you to a woman that I have learned much from and have come to love dearly!
She is kind. She is strong, both emotionally and physically. She is a hard worker. She makes wise financial investments. She doesn't get tired often. She makes all of the clothes for her entire family. Her husband is a respected member of the community. She has compassion on those who are needy. She is faithful. She is not an angry or contentious woman. She is full of joy and has no fear about her future. She loves working with her hands.
She is the woman described in Proverbs 31. The "Excellent Wife" (or Virtuous Wife, depending on the translation you use). Here she is, in all her beauty:
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good
and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
she brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
and provides food for her household,
and a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
from her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
and strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
and her lamp does not go out by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
and her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry 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,
and supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
she shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over 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 daughters have done well,
but you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
but a woman who fears the LORD,
she shall be praised!!
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Every time I read this passage - underlined, highlighted, circled, noted to the max in my Bible - I am further inspired and convicted that I want to imitate her. In providing a husband and children for me, the Lord has placed on me the high and noble calling of growing into the Proverbs 31 woman - a virtuous wife and mother. A strong, intelligent, financially sound, wise, diligent, compassionate, selfless, (seemingly) tireless lady who spends her time taking great care of her husband, children, maidservants (I wouldn't mind having a couple of those around!), and her home.
The Lord has given me a deep desire to be more and more like this lovely lady, who smiles at all the days to come. Even though she knows each day will require hard work and there probably won't be much appreciation. She doesn't do it for the applause - she does it because she loves her family and fears the LORD. She knows this is what He is asking of her, and she tries to do it excellently!
It breaks my heart that there seem to be so few women who really desire to be virtuous wives today (there are plenty who want to be good wives by a modern standard, but not many that would follow a scriptural definition). Why is it that so many women scoff incredulously at being like the woman of Proverbs 31?
I think it has to do with the lies we've bought into about being modern-day women.
*"Her lamp doesn't go out at night AND she's up early dishing out food, even for her maids?! When does she get her recommended 6-8 hours of sleep? I could never do that. I'm a night owl/earlybird/fill-in-the-blank-with-reasons-you-don't-want-to-be-like-her!!!"
*"When does she have girls' nights out away from her kids? I need a break from my family every so often. I could never be so diligent. I need time for myself!"
*"Make things instead of buying them?! Spend my days cleaning my house and teaching my children to be good stewards of what we have? But I've got too many meetings and too many playgroups and too many church activities; I'm tired, and I don't have the time to do those things. Besides, I can just buy food and clothes and my kids will learn real-life skills from their school!"
...and on and on and on and on they go. The many reasons why we, as wives and moms, don't believe we can fill the shoes of the woman God has lauded as 'virtuous'. She is a relic of the past; she is the standard of a different time when there weren't modern conveniences and 'liberated' women.
And some of you may be thinking...
Times have changed, Lisha! Life's not like that anymore! It's too traditional/old-fashioned/backwards/insulting to expect that a woman's 'occupation' should be only to be an excellent wife and a mom! What a waste of talent and strength, to keep a woman at home!
My friends, especially my married and/or mom friends: the honorable title of "Excellent Wife" is a great reward. It is valuable! And it IS doable! Not because women are awesome, but because God is awesome and in His grace he allows us to be slowly (over a lifetime!) transformed into a godly, virtuous wife and mom. And He gives us wisdom as we grow to see that being "just" a wife and mom is a most glorious and wonderful calling.
If God has given you with a husband and/or children, He bids you to come to Him, and He will cover your shame and shortcomings with abundant grace. He invites you to accept His forgiveness of your sins, and to walk gloriously in the role of wife and mom He's made you for!!
Does it mean that you're going to wake up early each morning with a big smile on your face and never get mad and you're going to have to be a perfect wife and mom every moment of every day? No! Because we all have sinned and fall short of God's glory and His perfect standard, no woman is capable of being a perfect wife or mom. Not you, not me (oh, golly, certainly not me! I miss that mark every hour...), not anyone. The Lord has given us mercy in that area through Jesus' atonement for our sin. He asks that we strive for excellence, not perfection. And in those moments when we fail, He picks us up, encourages us with His Word and His love and other women who are in the same situation, and gives us grace to keep striving.
My prayer right now is that you would be inspired to hope for and work toward excellence as a wife and mom, if you've been called to those. That you would desire to spend your days loving your husband and/or your children, even if it means dropping some other things. Love always involves a sacrifice; for wives and moms, it's usually a sacrifice of time (and sleep). I am praying for you, dear one, that you would joyfully realize that being a wife and/or mom is beautiful role and that you would want to emulate this lady. What better way to share (and grow in) the love, patience, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than to start with those you love the dearest?
If you'd like to take a closer look at the Proverbs 31 woman, here are some wonderful resources:
-Proverbs 31:10-31 [quoted above]
-The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
-Beautiful in God's Eyes:
The Treasures of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Elizabeth George
And here are some other fantastic resources for wives and moms:
-Stay-at-Home Mom by Donna Otto
-Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains
-My Heart's at Home by Jill Savage
-Authentic Beauty and Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
-The Power of a Praying Wife and
The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian
-Becoming a Titus 2 Woman by Martha Peace
-The "I heartily recommend..." list of blogs on the left side of this page!
[These are by no means exhaustive lists!]
Dear friend, if you are a wife or mom or a homemaker, it's not just because you chose it, but because the Lord created you for it long before the foundation of the world. Your work is important to Him. It is no little thing to be "just" a wife and mom. Great men & women throughout all of history were nurtured and raised by women who took their "job" seriously and strove for excellence. Will your husband or children be raised to greatness because of your excellence and obedience, for God's glory? Join me on this journey of growth in grace and excellence...
Only by His grace, and for His glory!
I may be sharing this post at these Link-up parties!
...her worth is far above rubies. [v.10]
Rubies are some of the most valuable gems on the planet. A real ruby is rarer than many other gemstones. And God - the God who spoke all of the rubies ever into existence - the God who never, ever changes - declares that a wife who strives for excellence in her role is MORE VALUABLE than rubies. You, as you choose to grow in excellence, are more precious to God than the rarest gems on Earth. And infinitely more beautiful.
Want to know a bit more about rubies? Check out www.gemstone.org and search "Gem by Gem" for them. Read about how rare a perfect ruby is, and be encouraged that your work in your home and the work God is doing in your heart is worth more than the money people spend on gems.