We are taught early on in our lives not to fail. The world has even taken bad grades out of school in order for children not to fail a class. The world tells us if we don’t do or have certain things, we are failures.
This goes even beyond the world, and into our Christian world. Us ladies are told by some that we are failures if we work outside the home. We’re failures if our homes aren’t perfectly spotless. We fail if our children don’t wear absolute modest clothing 24/7. We fail if we do or don’t wear a head covering. If we’re not super sappy sweet and host the most amazing parties and act like Martha Stewart on steroids, we are failures. If we don’t homeschool our children, we are failures.
This should not be. We work hard at doing things, reading blogs that teach us how to have the perfectly spotless germless bacteria-less homes, how to make our own clothes from cotton we grew in our backyards, spun on the 1700’s loom and dyed with dye made from plants we grew in the kitchen herb garden box, how to homeschool our 25 kids plus the 15 we adopted from China and a quaint little village in the remote mountains of Nepal, all with a special need that requires each to have one on one attention 24/7. I know…silly isn’t it? Who are we trying to impress? (For the record, we only have 3 children, in public school.) We work pushing ourselves to meet someone else’s standards.
We fear failing in meeting these standards.
The bible tells us the ideal woman in Proverbs 31. Us women are familiar with this chapter, which has this woman who can do no wrong and works her fingers to the bone from sun up to sun down and runs a business and makes her clothes and tends her family and has her various servants and so on. Oh, and a hubby who’s well known in the community and isn’t a poor farmer out in the fields. We push each other to attain this high standard, of being everything to everyone. But is this what the Bible REALLY tells us to do? Are we really to put her on a pedestal, as many of us have done for years?
Lemuel pointed out over 20 reasons why this Proverbs woman is the “perfect wife”. Break these down, and see how this woman really can be attainable. FYI—I am speaking to myself here as well….
She is rare. Are you like the ladies who are around your husband daily? Or, are you different, keeping your eyes, heart, etc only for him?
She is trustworthy. Can your husband trust you? If he trusts you with a secret, will you spill it on Facebook or Twitter, or go gossiping at the next women’s bible study as a “prayer request”?
She is constant in her love. Can your husband count on you to love him even when he realllllly doesn’t deserve it?
She is industrious. This woman knows how to do things around the house that would put Bob Villa to tears. And her tools aren’t pink. She knows how to get things done when hubby isn’t home to help her.
She is thrifty. She doesn’t go out and buy the latest Gucci or high ticket item. She makes the best of her budget and doesn’t waste what she’s given.
She is self starting. She doesn’t go lay in bed all day. She is the first to rise and get things going without someone telling her what to do. She’s got that pot of coffee brewing and working without being told or asked.
She is enterprising. This woman can run a business if she needs to. She can develop skills to make extra income if needed. She can buy and sell wisely.
She is willing to do hard work. No lazy woman here! She’s not afraid to break a nail or muss up her hair.
She is willing to work long hours. Think about it—a woman’s work is never done! She’s more than likely the last to bed and the first one up.
She is willing to do monotonous work. Dishes, scrubbing the toilet, washing the laundry, etc. Throw in the old fashioned way of doing the work back when Proverbs 31 was written, and that would most certainly tie in with doing hard work and long hours.
She is compassionate. This woman cares about people. She runs across someone who may not have enough food to make it through the month, she’ll bake them up some bread and maybe make a meal or two for them. Someone’s sick, she’ll make them some goodies (cookies and chocolate heal most sicknesses!) She cares about people.
She is prepared for the future. She looks ahead and prepares for a lean time, makes sure there’s food in the pantry or freezer. She takes a look at the closets ahead of time to make sure that her family has appropriate clothing for the upcoming weather. She looks beyond the present day.
She is a good seamstress. This woman can do wonders with a needle. This is a lost art that is slowing reviving as our economy goes sour. A little knowledge with a needle and thread, whether a machine or hand sewing, saves so much money, and can earn a little as well. You are able to provide clothing for your own family, for others by selling, as a ministry, make items for the home, etc. A little knowledge can make a big difference in the home!
She is married to a leader. She married someone who is a self starter, who has desire to do well in his life. She didn’t marry the first bum she met who gave her puppy dog eyes. She encourages him to do his best, and he uses her encouragement to be a leader. Does this work in every case? No. Each man is different, some won’t go beyond the bum, some like middle management, some will become leaders. Even if he doesn’t lead in the world, he is to lead his home…and is therefore still a leader.
She is not swayed by circumstances. She is firm in her faith, her foundation is in the Lord. The winds may blow through, she stands firm. She may have the life of Job, she stands firm. This woman portrays a mighty oak. Can we say the same? When things get rough, do we stand firm, or do we run? Do we crumple under pressure?
Oh, there’s more that describes this woman, but I think we get the picture. She has a lot going for her. But, if you’ll notice, she has to be firmly grounded in the Lord. She has her failings, she is not perfect.
She’s had to do some frog stitches (rippit, rippit). She’s burned the biscuits a time or two. Seriously, she’s human.
When we start adding someone else’s standards to the mix, we get bad results. We have a lot to live up to just in this one woman. It doesn’t say that she homeschooled her 25 kids and 15 adopted kids. Is homeschooling a requirement that must be met and you don’t love the Lord if you don’t homeschool? No. Does she have to wear a certain uniform or else she’s not a Godly woman? No. She didn’t have folks demanding she wear a certain button down dress in certain colors or skirts and tops in certain lengths…she wore the traditional Jewish attire of her day. If she doesn’t wear a triangle piece of cloth on her head, is she less Godly? In her day, women wore long flowing head covers, traditional to Jewish culture. Was she of the “quiverfull” movement? It doesn’t say how many children she had. Back then I imagine it was just part of being a woman—you have children, no specific movement name about it. She was a wise and Godly woman, she knew her bible inside and out.
Basically what I’m gathering so far is that the Proverbs 31 woman is a hard working woman, who is frugal, who can run a business if need be, can make for herself and family, knows the Lord, and loves her husband. When broken down, it doesn’t look so hard. We put so many other requirements and standards and guidelines on living the Christian life, and we fear failure if we don’t meet those standards.
There is only one standard I want to meet, and this is the only one I fear failing. I want to hear “well done thou good and faithful servant.” This is the area in which I do not want to fail. I don’t care about the other “standards” put on by well meaning Christians, whether it be homeschooling, clothes, hair, music, how strict or not strict, etc. I want to please my Lord…and His opinion is the only one that matters in the end. When the Jones family is long gone, my Lord will still be there.