I admit it. I have a love/hate relationship with the Proverbs 31 Woman. At times she inspires me to no end. Yes, who can find a more virtuous, capable woman? She is an exquisite portrait of a truly remarkable and lovely woman, wife, and mother. At other times I want to know where she lives so I can toilet paper her front lawn. Anyone who makes Martha Stewart look like a slacker has serious issues. I am sure she has never had a bad hair day.
She probably doesn’t even know what cramps are. Her foot never finds its way into her mouth, repeatedly, like mine. The meticulous woman would almost certainly be aghast at my dusty floors then would give me pointers on housecleaning. I am sure she would then wash my floors herself like some deranged Mary Poppins. What a show-off!
I have often compared myself to this epic woman whom we will call Prov. She is like that tall, beautiful model trying on the same clothes as you. You compare your assets with hers and find yourself seriously lacking. As you gaze in the mirror, your reflection looks pitiful next to hers, like a speck of sand against the breathtaking superstar. According to the Bible, not only does Prov do everything perfectly, but all around her think the same.
Plus, she has a husband and children surrounding her. For us single ladies, we feel even more inept. We hope that our singledom gives us the blessed loophole from trying to be everything Prov is. Does my empty ring finger give me a Get-Out-of-Proverbs-31-Free card? As I read and studied Practically Perfect Prov (her formal name), I was inundated with questions. What is a woman’s worth? What is my value? Does a woman have merit if no one is there to acknowledge her capabilities? Why does she have to be so flawless? And why is God pressing on me to examine her?
A mother wrote this discourse on the most excellent women in the hopes her son would recognize a Godly wife when he saw one. Generations later, and these 22 verses have become a checklist for some and others a carnival mirror that distorts perception. I read about Prov and grow tired as I remember the dirty dishes in the sink and the spider webs in the ceiling corners. I tell myself that I don’t want to be like her, but secretly I crave to have someone say those things about me.
Someone determined she was of great importance and value. I think that is what I am most jealous of. The Bible says Prov has excelled over all other women, and she has surpassed Deborah, Ruth, and Esther. She has outdone Miriam. She outshined them all, and she is the ideal that I am to live up to. Are you serious? “Susan?” “Yes, God?”
Obviously, He was tired of me talking smack about Prov. “Do you even know what it means to be a virtuous woman?” “Pure, perfect, capable, high morals, quiet, and always polite.” On a good day, I am maybe two out of five. “That is what the dictionary says.” “Dig deeper, Susan. You might actually like her.” “Wait, God, I have so many questions.” “You usually do.” “God, what is my worth?” “You will figure it out. Susan, meet Prov.” And so began my character study of this exceptional and highly irritating woman that had taken up residence on a pedestal. Like any difficult person, once you get to know them and what makes them tick, your opinion softens, and you see something of yourself in them.
Or in this case, you discover components that are missing in yourself. I have found myself housecleaning my soul and spirit, and she is the tool God is forcing me to use. How convenient that this investigation started during the days of Omer. The second day of Passover is the beginning of Firstfruits and the counting of the Omer, which lasts the next 49 days leading to Shavuot or Pentecost. The Israelites would take the omer or grain,
Divide it before it is winnowed and sifted. Then it was parched over a fire. After the heat came the refining and grinding, followed by another thorough sifting. Eventually, the best of the best grain was brought before the Lord and waved in His Presence as an offering. It was a declaration that everything came from God.
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