having it all: proverbs 31 after women’s lib

so, i’ve been thinking a lot about this “having it all” thing. Can we have the family and the kids and the job and the happy husband and STILL be happy ourselves.

In one of the church small groups this morning, we talked about the woman from proverbs 31.

Proverbs 31:10-31
10A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,a
ll the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from far away.
15She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her servant-girls.
16She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17She girds herself with strength,
and makes her arms strong.
18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the city gates,
taking his seat among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them;
she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:
29“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.

She is the ideal woman – and for many thousands of years has been this image of what women should strive for.

What amazed me during this study this morning is how much better I started feeling about this passage of scripture! I always thought it was some rediculously idealistic picture of womanhood that no one could possibly live up to and it had to have been written by a man… who wanted his wife to be everything for him. whatever. But as we talked about it this morning, we talked about how enterprising this woman was. She was the breadwinner while her husband sat on his ass (okay, sure he was an elder in the community and sat at the gates of the city solving people’s problems…) But still, she was the one out making business transactions, she was not only making goods, but selling them, “she perceives that her merchandise is profitable. her lamp does not go out at night.” – which either means that she is burning the candle at both ends… OR that she is making enough money to support the family that they don’t have to worry about putting the candle out at night and feel free to use that extra oil.

And then you get to the later verses. “Strength and dignity are her clothing… she opens her mouth with wisdom… the teaching of kindness is on her tongue… she does not eat the bread of idleness” I think that these are totally virtues that we can apply to our “do it all” lives today. We can do what we are called to in our jobs and have families as long as we keep these things in mind. We can be strong, be wise, and be kind and compassionate. we may not have a lot of time left, but we will be filling our lives up with good things. and we just might even be satisfied.

The last verse i love: ” give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” – notice her gifts and the fruit of what she is doing. We don’t have to do it all… we just have to do what we love, what we have been blessed with, take that and be fruitful with it. In today’s world, I don’t have to make clothes and buy vineyards and get up before sunrise to make food for my family. I DO need to be faithful and a good steward of the gifts that God has given me. I need to take this gift of ministry and do something with it.

Like the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14-30. We need to fear (read: reverently awe) our God, by acknowledging the importance of what has been laid at our feet. And then we must do something with it! If this whole pastor thing is my calling… along with being a wife and someday a mother – then it’s okay if I find the balance between those things… as long as we are being faithful. As long as we are not wasting our time with idle things.

The big trouble I have, in my own life, is with that idleness piece. I like to waste time. I like to procrastinate. I like to get on the grey’s anatomy message boards and read what other people have to say about the show. I like to play wow with my husband. I like to watch top chef. and I am eating the bread of idleness.

more community. more support for one another. more deep and holy sabbath time (instead of wasted time). more done for God’s glory.

1 Comment

  • Emma

    April 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm Reply

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts about this verse.I recently started reading your blog, and I really enjoy it.

    I plan on becoming a youth pastor eventually,so it’s kind of refreshing to see that not all pastors are “older” like they seem to be in my community!(I hope that makes sense!)

    –Emma

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