Is the Proverbs 31 Woman For
By Dena Dyer
I tried to do so many things for God that I missed
being with God. But I've learned—the hard way—life
isn't about keeping it all together. It's about trusting the One
who can. —Nicole Johnson
Do you ever feel intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman—the
one who sewed like Betsy Ross, volunteered like Mother Theresa,
and ran her own business like Oprah? I know I have.
But I have a theory about that “perfect” biblical
woman. As we know, Solomon wrote Proverbs, and Solomon had hundreds
of wives. So, dear reader, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman was
a composite. Solomon simply took the best qualities from
several wives and created a word portrait of his “ideal”
companion. (It works for me!)
Seriously, I've often felt discouraged while reading that famous
biblical chapter. I can’t tell the difference between soufflé
and flambé, and—to my mother's horror—I can’t
even sew on a button. I've ruined laundry, sent "belated
birthday" cards, and taken my kid to preschool in my pajamas
more times than I can count.
For years, every time I read Proverbs 31, I felt as if this spiritual
Superwoman was up in heaven, mocking my paltry attempts at being
a wife, friend, mom and daughter. I didn't realize that the chapter
was most likely an overview of the woman's entire life (and not
one day, week, or even month)—or that, as my friend and
fellow author Char Barnes says, "In Proverbs 31, the woman's
children rise up and call her blessed. Toddlers don't rise up
and bless their mother—this lady obviously had grown children."
After I began to experience panic attacks because of my perfectionism,
I realized God was calling me to a different standard than the
one I had erroneously set for myself. And through the wisdom of
a godly counselor, I discovered that in the verse I had taken
as my mantra—"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly
father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48, NIV)—the word "perfect"
can also be translated as "mature."
Part of my becoming mature has meant learning that I have limits.
We have just one life, and our Savior died and rose again so that
it could be an abundant life. When Jesus said in John 10:10, "I
have come that you might have life, and have it to the full,"
He wasn't talking about a day-planner jammed-packed with activities,
or a schedule crammed with "to do's."
Christ was speaking about a life of purpose, contentment, and
peace. As a busy wife and mom, I've come to believe that we can
experience abundant life daily if we get off the hamster
wheel of perfectionism, recognize our limits, and nestle close
When I remember that He loved me enough to leave the perfection
of heaven and soil His feet with the crud of earth, I can see
myself as He does. I can accept God's mercy, and impart that mercy
to the imperfect people around me.
Then—and only then—can I live each day with joy and
Notes from the Coach:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth
far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life . . . She is clothed with strength
and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks
with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue . .
. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman
who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31: 10-11, 25-26, 30, NIV
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn
the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy
or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn
to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:29-30, MSG
on Spiritual Life
More from Spiritual Life
Excerpted from Grace
for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms, Copyright ©
2004, by Dena J. Dyer. Used by permission.
Dena Dyer is wife to Carey and mother to their two boys, Jordan
and Jackson. Her other roles include professional actress and
singer, women's speaker, and author. Dena has written for Woman's
World, Today's Christian Woman, Writer's Digest, Christian Reader,
and Discipleship Journal.
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