Ruby Tuesdays--Back to the Beginning...

Welcome to Ruby Tuesdays. For a few weeks we've been exploring different aspects of the Proverbs 31 woman from the perspective that there's a wealth of possibilities in this passage that often serves to discourage women. Today, we're going back to the beginning where I shared how I see her and why it's an encouraging example to me.

I'd love to hear your perspectives and whether this is an exploration you're interested in continuing.

Endless Possibilities

Do you remember those "Magic Eye" pictures? The ones where you'd kind of squint and let your eyes go blurry and you'd see an image hidden within the picture.

That's kind of how I look at "the Virtuous Woman" of Proverbs 31. Hidden in the picture of this role model of efficiency and accomplishment is another image that doesn't get discussed as often.

The thing that initially made me give this woman a second look was that she had "servant girls." She had household help! I like that idea. (Someday...) Beyond that though, she was a woman who made the most of her time and found activities in which she excelled.

She's the type of woman that a mother wants her son to marry—respected by the community, praised by her family, industrious, wise, resourceful, enterprising. And while we might resent if someone else holds us up to that seemingly impossible standard (and the implication that we're not really okay the way we are), we still make our own efforts to become just such a woman.

Let's face it; we want to be more attractive, more fit, more interesting, more accomplished. We buy magazines and books by the armload to try to "improve" ourselves. We stand in the checkout line with our basket full of good intentions, deciding whether this week we will take home instructions for "Foolproof Chocolate Cheesecake," "A Romantic Bedroom Makeover in a Weekend," or "10 Easy Steps to a Whole New You."

For many years, before marriage was even a faint possibility for me, I found myself frustrated by what I perceived to be a limited number of options for Christian women. It seemed like most of the descriptions of women in the Bible were about being a wife and mother. I was neither. What was I supposed to do with the gifts and abilities that God gave me? And was I ever going to actually be happy in a life of "cooking, cleaning and babysitting" as I unflatteringly referred to it?

Those feelings of limitation were transformed the first time I realized that Proverbs 31 is not a checklist of accomplishments or a yardstick by which to measure my own achievements. It is a portrayal of the endless possibilities of a woman's life; a poetic description of a life of creativity and career, caring and commitment. Here was a passage that spelled out what my heart had always known—life wouldn't begin on my wedding day or end the day my last child left home. Instead, married or unmarried, I have a lifetime to learn and grow and become the woman God created me to be.

I am so not a "woman of excellence" in many ways. I don't particularly like to shop or cook; I heartily dislike the "E" word (exercise) and didn't marry until I was in my 30's or have kids for several years after that.

So what do I find exciting about Proverbs 31? The possibilities.

I am excited and challenged by the idea that there's more to life as a Christian woman (and homemaker!) than that old cooking, cleaning and babysitting. And as much as I may have to learn, I am encouraged to know I've got time to work on it. In the same way we're allowed a lifetime to become Christ-like, we have all the time in the world to become creative, caring, committed women.

"...of this one thing I am certain, He who began a good work in you will perfect it." Phil 1:6

Is there something in your heart that you've longed to pursue, but you've been afraid it didn't fit the picture of a Godly woman? As you read Proverbs 31, take another look at your life and find a new way of viewing the endless possibilities God has given you.


Priscilla said...

the one most amazing thing that I pursued (with Peter) was going to Ecuador with Lifewater to teach hygiene and sanitation. I did this in my LATE 50's!!! God is SO GOOD!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I, for one, have loved the exploration of thought into the P31 woman because of your Ruby Tuesday challenge. I've probably got a few more things to say in the matter, but if for any reason, you need to close this chapter, that's fine with me. I'll continue to ponder and add some concluding writings as I can.

Thank you for continuing to allow God to shape your life and heart along these lines. I pray for you that out of the overflow of these writings that God would further clarify and define what he would have you to do with them. As always, you are a gifted communicator and a treasured vessel of God's grand design. Walk in that truth today!


RefreshMom said...

Elaine, thanks for your participation in Ruby Tuesdays and your encouragement in my endeavors.

I've been invited to contribute to another devotional site on alternate Tuesdays (5 Minutes for Faith). I think I may continue my musings on Proverbs 31 but in a more informal way for the time being. Maybe keep it going on the in-between Tuesdays, maybe just randomly.

You've gotten great responses to your posts; I'd love to see you continue with your explorations with her--I've enjoyed it and your readers clearly have too.

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