Monday, April 02, 2012

Her Children Call Her Blessed

I wrote this paper for my Hebrew Poetry & Wisdom class a few weeks ago and got 10/10 for it.

The author of Proverbs 31:10-31 gives a model for women to be excellent wives and mothers. The title of these verses in the ESV is “The Woman Who Fears the Lord”, setting a standard right at the beginning. There are a number of qualities and attributes listed, and then the title is echoed in verse 30 saying that such a woman is to be praised. This passage has been used countless times as a checklist for heartsick bachelors and young maidens hoping to catch the eye of a potential spouse. The problem is, today’s society has discredited many of the items listed and has made men and women believe that beauty, above all else, is the key to happiness. While these attributes are seemingly hard to come by, they are not unattainable. I have seen all of them in a few women I know, and more specifically in my own mother. I was inspired to write a poem parallel to what I saw in her using this passage for mother’s day in 2006 (copy attached).
            As I myself have grown in the years since, I have come back to Proverbs 31 numerous times as a reminder of the standard to which I am held as a woman of God. At times, the expectation has seemed daunting and impossible, and at others an inspiration that has spurred on changes and hopefully improvements to my character. Admittedly, I am not an early riser unless forced, I have no one but myself to cook for, which is unsatisfying, and I have never mastered sewing or farming. However, this year alone I have begun to learn what it means to fear the Lord and certain ways and actions in which to present myself in a way that honors God. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a guideline of the type of woman I hope and aspire to be like when it is time for me to take on the role of wife and mother.
            I have been blessed in having been taught scripture from a young age and to have a set standard of something more than the empty, materialistic happiness the world presents. Not only has the world’s perception of a successful woman been completely turned backwards to that of the biblical standards and calling, it has made marriage something easy to get out of rather than to be worked on and cherished. Divorce has become a quick fix to marital dissatisfaction, and is hard to ignore by statistics, celebrities, and the effects of broken family dynamics. Verses 10-12 and 23 speak of the blessing on her husband’s life as a result of her noble character. It is wonderful to think of such a woman who, in her meekness exudes strength that is noticed by the elders of the town, yet doesn’t overstep her husband’s authority and role in the marriage.
            The art and beauty of knowing how to wisely run a household that is not only peaceful, but brings profit, has greatly been lost in our present culture. It has become acceptable and expected for women to seek work outside of the house, and we are met with derision if we aim to be “simple” housewives. Often circumstances call for both spouses to have jobs, but it is evident in history that if as young women we learn practical skills we can be successful at home while instilling Godly values into our children. This goes against so much of what the feminist movement of the 20’s and 30’s fought for, and yet I believe so much good could be restored if we could return to the biblical model. Not merely to stay home cooking, cleaning and raising children, or sending them off to daycare, but to work diligently, willingly, using our skills to supplement and support our husband’s hard work.
            Unfortunately, this is not the case for most women and is passed over as some ancient fairy tale of a super woman. It has been viewed through an over-romanticised lens so that at a young age we are led to believe that women like this are few and far between. A woman of this calibre would be completely out of the context of today’s society and fast paced culture that we fail to even think it could be possible. On the other hand, they are out there; women who fear the Lord, make wise decisions for the good of their families, and do not give way to idle living.

Proverbs 31 Woman
She chooses wool and cotton
and sets the knitting needles to work.
She awakes in the night
and prays for her family and coworkers.
She sees potential in the dirt
and a garden grows from her insight.
She opens her arms to the poor
and her hands and heart to the needy.
She does not fear the snow;
she has clothed her family in warmth.
She has quilted a blanket for each bed
and their warmth is always appreciated.
She is clothed in fine fabric
and is admired by all for her youthfulness.
She makes clothing and toys
and sells them at the market for a fair price.
She provides others with her wares
and the world applauds her creativity.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks in kindness and wisdom
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She conducts her household with efficiency
and is not caught in idleness.
Let her children stand and bless her
and acknowledge her good works.
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
These are the words we praise her with.
Although outer beauty may fade,
the radiant light will shine forever.
This is a woman we should praise
for she fears and trusts the Lord in everything.
No earthly trinket can express
how much you mean to me.
I can only attempt to tell you
what an inspiration you have been.
To me and the world
you fulfill the woman of noble character.
So here’s to you, my true Proverbs 31 woman,
my mom.
Written May 14, 2006

1 comment:

Wendy Roste said...

Wonderful write up Joanna! You might find it interesting that on the basis of Proverbs 31, I started a business and worked with 50 churches in greater Vancouver. g""
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