Proverbs 31… A Christian staple.
Loved by many and quoted by even more. You see it quoted in every church girl’s bio on twitter, every inspirational page for Christian women, and the social page of every woman aspiring to be married . Now don’t get me wrong, the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 is a great model for women… HOWEVER, it is a model that is appropriate at the appropriate time and in the appropriate season.
(If you are unfamiliar of the verse see the quote below.)
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
– Proverbs 31:10-31
In Proverbs 31, we are introduced to a woman who is a wife… She is married, has kids, and is a public servant. She wakes up early in the morning, keeps her house clean, and is very kind. She is a seamstress, strong, a public servant, humble, and a role model for her family and her community. These are all GREAT things that a woman should aspire to be…
So what’s the problem? …I’ll tell you.
The problem is many Christians force the narrative of the Proverbs 31 woman down the throats of young women before they even have an identity of their own. And honestly it’s not just Christians. From the moment little girls come into the world, society begins to groom them for marriage. We buy baby dolls that they clothe and feed. We buy play kitchens and cleaning supplies. Little girls play house and beg little boys to join in and put down the trucks and video games. Without even knowing simple addition, we become accustomed to gender roles and implicit life goals.
Identity is very important. So when we have 7 and 8 year old girls quoting Proverbs 31, we have set marriage as a standard and a necessity. This becomes a problem for many young girls and women over time. Life becomes less about who I am and more about who I should nurture and marry. Sometimes it creates a cycle of serial dating and discontentment. Women and girls begin searching for the standard of the love set out in fairy tales and chick flicks.
Being a nurturer is a blessing. Nonetheless, we all should attempt to be nurturing, but nurturing others is done best after we learn to care for and nurture ourselves FIRST. And before we aspire to marry we should know how to love ourselves FIRST. Nonetheless, Proverbs 31 is a great model for wives BUT before we are wives, we must first become women.
When we groom young girls for marriage, they lose sight of who they are and they believe that their sole purpose in life is to become a man’s wife. A woman’s walk with God then becomes contingent upon her receiving a spouse. “Well if I become more active in church and pray, maybe God will send him.” It causes women to treat marriage and receiving a spouse as the reason why we seek God and do good works. So Instead of doing good works for the sake of love of God alone, we follow Christ because of what we think he may offer us.
It’s important for girls, women, boys, AND men to discover themselves. Learn what you like. Learn who you are. Explore life without thinking about finding “the one” or when “the one” will come to save you. Paul, the author of many books in the bible even stated, “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” Marriage is a gift from God. We all have different gifts. Gifts are to be received in their proper season. Only God determines when you will receive this.
I’m not saying that you should not desire to be married or to one day be a Proverbs 31 woman. BUT we should make sure that we know that this are aspirations and not indications of who we are or absolutely need to be. There is more than one type of woman. There’s no need to rush. What God has in store for you will be yours… we just need to make sure we’re focusing on GOD first. Marriage is a commitment and full of sacrifices. It requires dying you your flesh daily. If marriage is a thing you desire, prepare for it BUT don’t let it become the focus of your walk with God.
There is standard God has set. He requires that we seek him first and ALL things will be added unto us. We’re not supposed to seek marriage first or kids first, but GOD FIRST. We have to be in position to receive the gifts God has designated to us..
Many of women and young women aren’t married. Some aren’t mothers. Some aren’t “morning people” or seamstresses…. but we are women and young women working to become better… Some women become distraught and believe that they’re value has been diminished because they aren’t married, don’t have kids, or are incapable of having them. Be not deceived.
So for every woman whether married, single, windowed, barren, and everything in between… God has you in your proper season. And there is no doubt in my mind that you cannot be virtuous too.