The Dreaded Proverbs 31 Lady, Part Uno

April 25, 2012

in the generous life

woman housework I don’t know about y’all, but there are times that I have hated the Proverbs 31 lady. She’s like this mysterious perfect gal whose example we are all supposed to live up to.

Well, in years past, I did a heavy stint of research and found that much of what is said about her is pretty bogus, mostly because people didn’t take the time to understand the culture and habits of the people that Proverbs was written to. 

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 
19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  Proverbs 31 NIV

Stuff like this just used to toast me. I sew and crochet, but given my lifestyle, there was no way that I was going to take my family’s clothes from raw materials to final product.

What really helped me was learning that these activities were considered “women’s work.” Look at her attitude. She’s eager, intentional and energetic. She obviously doesn’t have an issue working hard at what it takes to run a household and she doesn’t have a pride issue over doing something assigned by culture to her gender.

I can deal with that.

I can care about my family, work hard to take care of their needs and not cop an attitude about it being “women’s work.” In my culture that’s going to look a bit different, but I think that’s the part that we need to understand. It’s the principles and heart attitudes that we need to catch. What that looks like lived out is going to be unique because our families are unique.

I think the reason that I’m talking about this is that I realized I was slacking on housework. I got busy with some other projects. My husband and (adult) son always pitch in and help around the house, so I haven’t heard any complaints, but I am really slacking and that’s not OK. I needed to remind myself that work that keeps the household going is important work, just as important as any project. My family deserves to have a lovely and functional home.

… I’m off to clean and organize my pantry. Hmmm. What should I fix for dinner?

Image credit © Candybox Photography | Dreamstime.com

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Do drop in and leave a comment ~ Mitigate Risk In Your Marriage  It would be a very cool resource to have a huge list of ways to reduce risk. (from Marriage Works!)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs VK April 25, 2012 at 5:44 am

I have always thought of the Proverbs 31 woman in her context, also keeping in mind that many women would have had servants (only the VERY poor would have to do it ALL herself). I always look at the Proverbs 31 woman as though she knew how to do all those things and could direct in their doing. Having read a lot of history, I have read of many women who have done almost everything on that list ~ but the women who have done the most of those things always had servants (even Proverbs 31 speaks of maidens).
We DO have it much easier today, only all our “maidens” (i.e. washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers etc) are not people who need to be fed (they also can only do the task that they do ~ they can’t take the mail to the post office for you).
The thing that gets my attention the most is the fact that there is no child care spoken of (except the clothing of her household and rising up early to give food for her household and maidens). It appears that our Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t nursing babies all night or potty training. So that makes me wonder if the other view that I have heard from time to time, that the Proverbs 31 woman speaks of stages in the woman’s life. But I don’t know how to explain that. :) I do know of a few Godly older women who are constantly busy like that. They fill their time serving others: taking good care of their homes, loving their husbands, caring for the poor etc. I look up to those women and hope that I will be like them one day.
Whatever the case, I agree that our attitude does make a difference and that we can be the Proverbs 31 women in our homes, in our cultural context etc.
Thank you for the thought provoking post!

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Kate April 25, 2012 at 7:58 am

Lori, I love that you are tackling the Proverbs 31 women. Not literally of course! I think you have hit a very important part about her-her attitude. I love the part where it says that she rises early and prepares breakfast for her family. I have always struggled with getting up early and being a homeschool mom, we really don’t have to. But my hubby has to get to work and he is blessed when I make him some coffee to go and his lunch. I enjoy blessing him and while it may be considered women’s work, it is a way to be generous and bless your marriage and family. I aspire to have the attitude and drive that the Proverbs 31 women has within the talents and gifts that God has given me.

Ahh . . . as for the housework, well God is still doing a work within me on that. Yet I do agree that an orderly house makes for a better home atmosphere. Notice I did not say clean and sparkling, because my house is almost never, but having this organized and cleaned up in so nice and we all feel so much better!

Thanks for sharing this and can’t wait to see what else you share about the amazing, somewhat intimidating example of the Proverbs 31 wife! :)

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Mariane April 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

Love the post, love the comment!
Our roll as wives makes a HUGE difference for His kingdom!
Attitude is everything. God looks into the heart.
is there a part 2,3, ….31?

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Hannah Williams April 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

God bless you for tackling the Proverbs 31 woman. Definitely someone who is hard to live up to on the surface… I’m still learning how to run my household, and I don’t sew, get up at dawn to cook, or have kids. But I do agree with you about getting to the heart of the attitude she has. I think this is what Solomon was trying to emphasis when he wrote Proverbs 31. When we are right with God, we will ultimately want to love and serve others since God’s love will spill out in everything we do.

The longer I am married and the deeper in my relationship with Christ I go, I realize how much I aspire to be more godly and feminine, and how much I enjoy serving and taking care of my husband and home. It is such an under-appreciated job that many women in America and around the world have and I wish I could thank every single one of them for taking the time to care for their husbands/families. I definitely appreciate my own mother so much more for all the work that she did in raising my sisters and I (mostly as a single mom) and taking care of the home, bills, etc. I’m convinced that we don’t have to exactly imitate the Proverbs 31 woman’s actions, but we should be imitating her cheerful, willing heart and humble Christlike service to those most important to her and others around her. She doesn’t have to be intimidating – she is actually quite liberating – because she receives her beauty and worth from Christ and He enables her to do her service.

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JennyBean April 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm

To be honest, I have never understood why women get so up-in-arms about the Proverbs 31 woman. I ended up writing a devotional/article about it after reading Captivating, where she is spoken of so negatively (grrr). Is she really living so differently from how we are expected to live as followers of Christ? We are called to be generous, and loving, and many other things mentioned in the chapter. Women get so focused looking at the outside actions that they forget about the heart attitude behind it (like you said); they can’t seem to see the wood for the trees. Well done on bringing up this subject; perhaps it will challenge some women to look a little deeper and realise how much gold we can take away from this chapter.

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Dr. Ann April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

Lori,
I’m new to No Ordinary Bloghop and saw your post over there.This is a great post on the Proverbs 31 woman, and I love your point about keeping our attitudes/hearts on the right track when serving our families at home. I’m definitely one of those who can cop an attitude at times! Thanks for the encouragement and real-life sharing.
Blessings,
Ann

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Beth April 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Interesting info about the “mysterious perfect gal.” Thanks so much for sharing and giving me a new way to appreciate her. :)

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Diane May 2, 2012 at 6:59 am

Okay, I’m weird. I love the Proverbs lady! I love my life as a wife and mother and now grandmother and I love housework! I take pride in a pile of clean, folded clothes. I love a clean kitchen and gleaming bathrooms and floors. Yep. Call me strange. These things give me great satisfaction. I don’t always do them perfectly. In fact, I never do them perfectly. Life just has this way of getting underfoot. But I love doing them. Over and over. I appreciated your comments and insight. It helped me to see myself a little more clearly! Thank you for sharing on NOBH!

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