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Is the Proverbs 31 Woman For Real?

By Dena Dyer
Guest Columnist --

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 to Jesus.

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 perfect peace.

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

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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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