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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Wife or Wonder Woman?

Ok folks, this week is officially being dubbed "Wonder Woman Week, " and here's why: by all appearances, there isn't a single thing the Proverbs 31 Wife can't do, there's no skill she hasn't mastered. It's intimidating at best, discouraging at worst. We'll be jumping around the verse order a little bit this time, but bear with me. This is how I processed the apparent magnificence and boundless energy of the Proverbs 31 Wife. So here we go...

To begin, she is a master craftswoman. Here are the examples sprinkled throughout the chapter:
  • (v. 13) She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
  • (v. 19) In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers
  • (v. 21-22) When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
In case you were wondering, the distaff and spindle were tools used to spin wool. So this woman picks out the wool and flax, spins it into fibers to be used as yarn or thread, and sews everything her household needs, including clothes and linens. She couldn't just run down to her local Hobby Lobby or Old Navy and pick everything up. Nope. She did it all herself, from picking the wool to tailoring. She makes Martha Stewart look like an amateur. 

So what can I possibly learn from these verses? Look a little closer. " with eager hands." I don't believe this is a comment on how adept she is; rather, it's highlighting the attitude with which she approached her responsibilities. She was eager. She not only does things with a willing attitude - she's eager!

Then there's that last verse. "When it snows, she has no fear for her household." Why? Because she can afford to warm her families with fine linen and purple cloth? No, although we'll circle back to those details later. I believe what this verse is trying to tell us is that she was prepared. She eagerly got her work done in advance so that her family would be prepared when winter came. If we were to go down a rabbit hole briefly, we could extrapolate that this verse isn't even just talking about a literal winter. She was prepared for growth spurts, nasty tumbles, hard work, and normal wear and tear. Whatever the challenge, she was prepared.

She's also an adroit businesswoman. Here are the examples provided in this chapter:
  • (v. 14) She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
  • (v. 16) She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
  • (v. 18) She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
  • (v. 24) She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She knows a good deal when she sees it, whether it's driving all the way across town to Aldi's to buy the cheapest produce or finding a good real estate investment. Not only that, she uses the previously mentioned skills (sewing, etc) to make money to use in these ventures, and "she sees that her trading is profitable." I picture her with a big envelope full of coupons, an organized planner with trustworthy business contacts scribbled in the back, and a pocket in her purse filled with nicely embossed business cards. She is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her budgeting and spending! These verses make me think of brilliant women like Crystal Paine and Ruth Soukup who make a living advising women on Godly ways to run their homes and budgets.

In addition to having a mind for business, the Proverbs 31 Wife has a more few secrets to her success.  "Her lamp does not go out at night." This tells us that she is diligent. She's burning the midnight oil to make sure the numbers don't just balance, but work in her favor. This doesn't mean she's Lady Scrooge, scrimping and hiding away pennies for selfish gain. No, she is diligent to ensure that her family's money and investments are profitable in a way that glorifies God. To me, this means that she is following some of Dave Ramsey's Biblical financial principles - tithe first, pay the bills, then save and invest. She is diligently making sure that their hard-earned money (that she has contributed to) is working for them.

PLEASE HEAR ME: I'm not saying all wives have to get a job and contribute monetarily to the family resources. I am saying that the Proverbs 31 Wife is gratefully and worshipfully frugal. She knows that any money they do have is a blessing, and she works hard to maximize its impact for her family and God. 

So what are the overall takeaways here? Well, it's certainly not that we all need to learn to weave, knit, and sew, get real estate licenses, work full-time, etc. If you can do all of those things, you're a super hero and kudos to you! We should meet and become besties because you can probably help me in a million ways...But that's not the point; the point is that the Proverbs 31 Wife uses the skills and talents she is given to eagerly and diligently care for her family. She anticipates and prepares for their needs and even their desires. She tirelessly works to ensure that everything she does will benefit those around her and ultimately point others to God. I know that sometimes that's easier said than done. There will always be long days with packed schedules or scary emergencies that cause us to question if God knew what He was doing putting us in this position. Rest assured, dear friend, He knew EXACTLY what He was doing. Remember Esther from the Old Testament? She had to have wondered and doubted and worried about God's plan for her life. But God put her in that position "for such a time as this." I love that phrase. 

Ladies, Mommies, Wives, Daughters, Sisters - we have been put in these positions with specific talents that only we can bring to the table in order to do God's work in and on behalf of our families, "for such a time as this." Somehow, that's less intimidating than thinking I have to master the same laundry list of accomplishments mentioned above. With God's help, I can learn to care for my family eagerly and diligently, preparing them for God's work and whatever circumstances may come our way. 

Hapless but hopeful,

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